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Art (painting & drawing)

Year Graduated

Major/ Minor
Art, BFA; Painting & Drawing

Noteworthy campus activity or achievement
Being an art major is NOT for the faint of heart, but I LOVE it. We had an all-star staff that taught me so much, and inspied me to push myself. While in JMU's Art Program, I had a show at the student-run gallery, and interned with Gary Freeburg at Sawhill! While at Sawhill I got to interact with artists around the world and photograph their work which was amazing.

What are you up to now?
I currently teach at Indian Hollow Elementary in Winchester, and I LOVE IT. I student taught in Loudoun County, but the commute drove me insane. I got really lucky at my school, I'm their first full time art teacher, and my administration have complete faith in me and trust how I run the Art Program. I really am blessed, because I have quite a bit of freedom and often refer to the 'better to ask forgiveness than permission' adage. Sometimes I might add to admin's grey hair when they see me encouraging the kids to let the paint fly in true Pollock fashion, but I love teaching art by day and creating art by night. The JMU Art Ed Program truly prepared me for my career path :)

How does your art major/minor inform your career? How did it help you get to where you are now?
Since I opted for the BFA, I got to take every studio. Did I sleep during my time at JMU? No, but I was able to gain insight into a wide range of art-making. I often think of projects I did at the college level, and enjoy making them elementary friendly because what kids can do is truly limitless. When they see they can do something they'd ruled out before, they learn to accept more challenges.

What are some of the most valuable skills you gained from the School of Art, Design and Art History?
Practice, practice, practice. I constantly practice my painting and drawing skills, and I ALWAYS make time for my own art. It is essential to my sanity. If it is appropriate, I share what I work on with the kids. It makes a path in art seem so much more tangible to them. They're so literal at the elementary age, so it's good for them to see a vast range of art beyond what directly relates to a lesson. I also learned the importance of challenging myself, embracing my strengths, and busting out of my comfort zone. My art has evolved so much since my first studio class.

What is your advice for JMU students knowing what you know now?
Don't create work half-heartedly. Take advantage of being given the freedom to create. Don't avoid a class or technique because you've mentally written it off - you'd be surprised what you'd take to. Be open with your professors, they're your teachers for a reason: they know their stuff. I thrived under Zurbrigg and Banks, therefore my artwork thrived. I STILL apply advice and skills they gave me. Don't take criticism from your teachers personally, they are challenging you and it is their job. It is YOUR job to decide what to do with it. If you're an Art Eddie, understand that the program has been developed over a decade by an amazing group of people that have an extensive bank of knowledge. When you're groaning about having to write 4 lesson plans by next week, accept that when you're going in as a first-5th year teacher, you will be creating all new lessons all the time. I'm in my 3rd year, and I still edit lessons from my first year, and I have 6 a week to do. Teaching doesn't end at the school building, you will bring work with you, you will create examples at home, you will hang up artwork for hours after school. It is a very personal job, and it will go home with you - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It takes dedication, and pure love for those kids and being given the opportunity to teach them to develop as artists. It is hard work, but it is rewarding work. I teach over 500 kids, I can tell you their names, their favorite colors, their allergies. I can tell you who is cared for when they leave school, and who is scared when they leave school. You will find that you are constantly learning as a teacher, and that's how it should be. No child is the same, and no class is the same. Good luck, guys. A path in art is a passionate one.

Website, Blog, Instagram, etc. of yours you want to share?
Twisted & True is my art page, which I try to update every few months or so.

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