My first “real painting” was of a gerbil that I did in a summer art program as a kid. I remember that magic encounter with a fan brush which helped me to achieve the appearance of fluffiness. I was so proud. That day I wore two different colored socks because I was an artist and in my mind artists are transgressors.
Many years later I cried tears of joy when I survived a studio emergency while hand building a bench using mortise and tenon joinery for the first time. It was exhilarating. My entire woodworking class was in the studio working late into the night and when they saw I was struggling, they came to my rescue. I realized then that art-making does not always have to be a solitary struggle and the studio could be a communal space.
Why teach art? To me, making art is a way of thinking, a process of discovering multiple answers to the same question. It is also the way to pose more compelling questions to wrestle with. It gives permission to dream. It can be extremely personal and universal at the same time, connecting us across history and cultures. Creative expression and problem solving through play and practice, is something I would like to share with my students. The art that we make is not only about the finished product, but the process of making. What I hope for my students is for them to think carefully and critically about visual representation, to trust in themselves, and to find their own paths in artistic expression as I cheer them on.
I am currently the Chair of Visual Arts at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, where I get to continue my work at the oldest Quaker school in the country!
From 2012-2018 I was the Visual Arts Department Chair at Friends Academy, a Quaker school on the north shore of Long Island where I worked with children from 6th-12th grade and collaborate with colleagues in various departments.
From 2010-2012 I worked at a Democratic Charter School in Portland, OR. You can see some examples of what I did here: Trillium Art Program. While I was a teacher at Trillium I had the wonderful privilege of traveling to Southern Africa on a curriculum development grant. You can read more about it here: Joy in Southern Africa