Art is a mode of communicating that transcends language, ethnicity, race, and age. It is a powerful tool for building community and creating beautiful connections between students, parents, and faculty. I take great joy in spearheading collaborative projects where students work together to envision, plan, and execute communal works that involve the entire school. My program also emphasizes peer mentoring and group shares.
Interdisciplinary collaboration brings learning to life, inspiring students to take concepts beyond the classroom and to bridge connections across subject matters. By partnering with classroom teachers and other specialists, opportunities abound to infuse art-making into any school subject, creating a beautiful, holistic synthesis of the creative and the academic in which learning flows organically from class to class.
Engaging with nature is a profound way for students to appreciate, connect, and ultimately protect the world around them. My art students develop their ecological awareness through hands-on “eco-art” projects that inspire wonder, curiosity, and reciprocity with our majestic planet. They learn that sustainability is not just a buzzword, but a perspective and a practice: a way of engaging in art-making that brings intention to materials, purpose, and the practices which inspire the art. “Sustainability” in the art room might mean learning natural dyeing or traditional basket weaving from local artisans; collecting, sorting, and crafting from a rainbow of discarded plastics; or it could take the form of spirited discussions around artistic impact and the message that their work tries to convey.
Art-ivism: The intersection of art and activism. I empower students to be change-makers. When they have a voice in the issues that matter to them — whether it be social justice, environmental activism, or animal rights — the art curriculum comes alive with relevance and possibility. Students become motivated to learn, create, and to take action to achieve their goals. I believe students of all ages can be art-ivists and that art can give children a voice in the world.
Finger painting, glueing leaves to yarn, feeling the textures of clay as it molds under pressure… children thrive when given a chance to get messy and explore art with their senses. I encourage students to be resourceful and innovative with a wide range of media (printmaking, painting, sculpture, assemblage, textiles, photography, land art, and more!) and allow them the space to explore and connect with their creative process. Access to quality art supplies is important… and equally important is that students understand the magic of repurposing, redesigning, and reusing materials found in nature, their recycling bin, or anywhere and everywhere!
My art program integrates experimentation with traditional ‘elements of art’ (line, shape, texture, form, space, color, value) and ‘principles of design’ (contrast, harmony, balance, emphasis, movement, repetition, rhythm, pattern, unity, and variety). The goal is to empower students with the creative language to visually articulate the ideas of their inner world. In creating projects, I balance the value of play and discovery with the importance of technical skills, and the particular development of each child. Lessons take a growth mindset approach, providing a safe space for experimentation and risk-taking. This method of teaching honors each child’s individual journey and builds stronger resonance with their ability to accurately express and connect to the world.
Progressive education puts students in the center of their own learning experience, enabling them to take agency and ownership over their education. In the art room, this translates to students being deeply engaged in projects that stem from their own passions, interests, and curiosities. There are no mistakes in the art room; accidents simply become exciting opportunities, building the foundation for the next new lesson. As an educator, I aim to be flexible and curious, listening and learning alongside the students.
Cultivating artistic literacy — a student’s ability to talk about art and the art-making process — empowers students to articulate their own creative choices and to express informed perspectives on the work of others. I have developed my curriculum to integrate these skills in a variety of ways: understanding and modeling the use of artistic vocabulary; practicing the art of observation; engaging thoughtfully and critically during peer critiques, and exposing students to a diverse range of artists and artworks from around the world and from art history.