How many years have you been teaching art at Cherokee School? This is my 10th year here at Cherokee, and before that I taught 3rd-8th grade art for two years in Arizona.
What is your teaching philosophy? I feel that my job is to instill an appreciation of art and a creative way of thinking in all my students and to expose them to a wide range of art styles, techniques, and mediums. I want the children to enjoy art and think of the art room as a safe and fun place to be. On the very first day of class, I tell the kids that there is no "right or wrong" in art, while following directions is important, there are no red pens here in my class, at least not to grade with! The kids light up and are ready to communicate through their work and let their individuality
shine through, knowing they are safe, that everyone's different, and they are free to express themselves through their artwork. By exposing the kids to many different techniques and mediums, they can find what they enjoy working
with and where their strengths lie. Art is also an excellent means for students to make connections and reinforce what they are learning in all academic areas. While not everyone will choose an art related career, my goal is that students
understand how art can be an outlet and resource for people of all ages, and how it can help to develop creativity in everything we do. It is so essential for future generations to have an appreciation and open mind for art, cultures,
and the ability to work and think creatively. That's the expectation in the 21st Century and through the arts, students gain innovation, communication, problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.
Tell us about the Cherokee art curriculum. When the curriculum and lessons are developed, there are many factors that I consider to ensure success of all the students. It's important to build upon past experiences, and
continuously challenge the students more and more each time. I take into account fine motor skills, sequence, concepts, variety of materials, art history, famous artists, and the arts experience as a whole. I definitely
focus on quality over quantity of projects, and it's great to see the kids, and even adults, so impressed with what elementary level students are able to produce with some direction. All of our students are very creative, and it
truly shows in our art shows and the halls! Two core concepts that I continually teach are the elements of art and principles of design, which include but aren't limited to color, shape, line, variety, texture, proportion, space and form.
The current curriculum we are working on includes: Kindergarten - using a variety of line and mixing colors with
white (to create tints) to make a Valentine's painting; First Grade - creating a monochromatic painting of the Eiffel Tower, and using a splash of color to create a focal point; Second Grade - using highlights and shadows to create a
painting of a snowman at night; Third Grade - studying Native American tapestries and creating a loom and a weaving of their own; Fourth Grade - each group is currently working on a different clay project and preparing for the
Annual 4th Grade Art Show at Gallery 300, which opens March 7th, from 6-7!
How has art class changed since you were a student? When I was an elementary student, art class was more "cookie cutter" and there were not lots of opportunities for students to add their own personal touch. Today, I
discuss and applaud differences in the final outcome of my students' work. We often talk about what art is conceptually and why it all looks so different. I encourage the kids to use their imaginations and go above and
beyond what I challenge them to do in their work. The pride and confidence I see in the students when they show each other their work is very rewarding. The kids' creativity inspires me and often teaches me how to instruct the same lesson differently in the future. We are all constantly evolving and learning.
Who are your favorite artists? My favorite master artists inspire my teaching and own art, they include Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Jean Arp, Fernand Leger, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Vincent VanGogh, Christo, and Charley Harper. If you've ever seen pieces by these artists, you know for the most part their work is simple, abstract, modern and almost child-like. I enjoy art that clearly comes from the imagination, uses a
variety of big, bold colors and free forms. I like outlines and patterns, which not only is inspired by my favorite artists, but the art of my students. As Picasso once said, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child".
What are your favorite pastimes? I just got married in October, and my husband, Eli, and I are enjoying decorating our new apartment in Evanston. We love Danish modern furniture, and often go to auction houses and estate sales to
find new pieces. We have even refinished a few ourselves! Eli teaches guitar, and we both enjoy music and art, so we often see different bands play in the city, or go to the Art Institute. I enjoy working on my pottery wheel, sewing,
painting, printmaking, reading, and traveling.