Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Great teachers I have Known
One of the most rewarding things an artist can do is teach. I was blessed with great teachers both in my life and in the classroom. My mother was head of the English Dept. at Lyndon State for 38 years. She was a great talker with a lovely Welsh musicality in her voice. She taught Shakespeare, Chaucer and Romantic Poetry and reveled in language and the world of ideas. At 85, she is now very frail and homebound, but every year her mailbox fills up with loving holiday cards from her students. Teachers make a difference in people's lives. Larry Golden, art teacher at the Academy in St. Johnsbury was another great mentor for me. I went to school with Curtis Hale's Dad and so a generation later, Larry Golden was an influence on Curtis! Dorian McGowin of Lyndon State helped me prepare my portfolio to get into Pratt Institute. Dorian is endlessly creative and he always made the art room into a wild bohemian environment filled with sculpture, puppets, paintings, stained glass and his oddball collections.
At Pratt I studied with Rudolf Baranik, Gillian Jagger, Franklin Faust and Sal Montano, amazing teachers all. I can still hear their voices in my mind.
I have never been a classroom teacher. I have an Art Ed minor from Pratt and the Brooklyn Museum helped me get a Masters in Museum Education at Bank Street College of Education. I have taught in museum galleries, been a tour guide on the Brooklyn Bridge, created the Education Dept for Socrates Sculpture Park and spent ten years in Prospect Park, Brooklyn where I opened Memorial Arch to the public, and founded the visual art program for the Park. I think I did all this just to avoid being a classroom teacher! I'm too restless....I need art materials in my hands.
Teaching drawing means helping people to see. Finding their edges, editing their forms, placing shapes into space, adjusting tone and value, translating the world onto the two dimensional page. I love teaching drawing and painting. It is exhausting and energizing all at the same time.
I now teach for the Woodstock School of Art and the Arts Center at Old Forge in the Adirondacks. Currently, I am writing a series of grant proposal for the Kentler International Drawing Space to keep the school groups' programming happening for public schools in one of New York's poorest communities, Red Hook, Brooklyn.