This episode has been a long time coming! I envisioned this as a celebration of 100 episodes and a way to kick off the summer of 2022. Well, here we are in 2023 after a long hiatus. The theme feels even more fitting now – for this podcast, for art educators and artists, and for me personally.
This started as an idea and a bit too much confidence that I could figure out how to pull it off. It truly grew into a community with so many beautiful connections formed. I am so grateful for you – the artists, educators, parents, and good folks who have listened, contributed, and reached out – and stuck around even when I took a break. Thank you!
As I figure out what’s next for this show and for me, I want to embrace community even more deeply. I would love to make this a collaborative project and bring more folks into the creation of this podcast. If you’re interested in working with me and taking on a leadership role in producing this show, please reach out! In full transparency, I’ve never profited from this show. All of the donations and ad revenue generated have been split between paying the expenses and donating to Adding Voices. This is a labor of love, not a profit machine.
What a challenging few years we’ve had! The embrace of artist communities have held me through this time. I hope you’ve felt that support as well! When I put out the call for a community episode sharing several of your voices and advice for fellow art educators nearly a year ago, I was honored to hear from these amazing teaching artists.
Lana teaches elementary art K-5th at two schools in Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Art Education, a BFA in Printmaking and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Art Education. She is passionate about Choice-based Art Education and the philosophy of Teaching for Artistic Behavior. She is an advocate for play-based learning in the classroom and therapeutic approaches in Art Education.
She believes in actively viewing the world through an anti-bias, antiracist lens and is deeply committed to reshaping and reimagining the world of (Art) Education. She is also a digital doodler and artist who loves creating digital illustrations, paintings, and working with polymer clay.
Renee teaches high school (9th-12th grade) visual art including AP Art, Ceramics, Jewelry (metal working), Sculpture, Acrylic painting, and Oil Painting. She received her BFA in painting and sculpture from Elmhurst University while also double majoring in Art Education to earn her professional teacher’s license. She also holds an MA in Education from Concordia University, focused on differentiated instruction. Art became a considerable part of her life after being introduced to her first class as a teenager in high school. Having a childhood without much art, she was passionate about sharing art with young minds and being a positive art influence for students who may not have been able to express themselves.
She strives to support her students in developing their personal artistic practice. She pushes her students to create fine-quality work while exploring their artistic style and voice. She encourages her students to self-assess their portfolios while learning to critique and participate in showing their work to the public. Renee is a member of art ConnectEd through the Illinois High School Art Exhibition team as their Digital Gallery Assistant Director.
While being an educator, it was important for Renee to continue her personal artistic practice. Her work captures close-up portraiture that experiments with brushwork and dynamic abstract colors. Through painting the human form, these works explore themes of feminism and the human experience. As a woman battling anxiety and depression, her art brings to light these powerful emotions. Her practice is a means for self-healing and, on a broader scope, awareness of our inner battles.
Meera is the Project Resource teacher for visual art at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy in San Diego, CA where she teaches TK-5th grade visual art. She has a Master’s degree in the history of fine arts, drawing, and painting. Meera is also a paper collage artist. She was born in India and moved to San Diego in 2004. The formative years she spent studying textile design in Chennai, India deeply impacted the artworks she makes and the lessons she teaches her students.
She uses a multicultural approach to teaching that incorporates art from different parts of the world, so students develop curious minds, empathy, and acceptance. Her goal is to create lessons that are accessible to all students while keeping them challenged, motivated, and engaged. In 2022, Meera was awarded the Outstanding Elementary Visual Art Educator award by the California Art Education Association and her art program was awarded the Exemplary Program status.
Meera also started a podcast with her 5th graders! She gets together with 4 students each Wednesday to talk about a different artwork each week using VTS and compare/contrast. Check it out: Elementary Art Talk Podcast.
The past 6 months have been a whirlwind! We were finally able to buy a home because we were able to move out of the city. After decades of renting and many many moves (8 in the last 9 years, including back and forth across the Atlantic), it felt like a dream to put down some roots. The reality has been very stressful at times. Although my type-A planner self did manage to color-code our moving boxes, I somehow scheduled bringing a puppy home the same weekend we moved. There went the baseboard and chairs! My time has been split between house repairs/projects, puppy training/care, parenting, and working full time. Art and this podcast slipped away for a little while, but I’m ready to slowly, sloooowly start re-balancing my busy life.
Another thing that has taken priority is local activism. While we chose our home specifically for the highly rated schools, I did not anticipate the hostile takeover of the school board by Christian nationalists a month after we moved. That especially has been infuriating, but has also helped me find community in this new home. I’m buoyed knowing there are many MANY folks here who are standing up to the hate and bigotry and won’t stop. If you’re also fighting the good fight locally, please reach out! We know this is a national effort fought on local levels because they can’t win nationally. Let’s pool strategy and resources to combat the destruction of education (and so much more) in this country. If you’re up for chipping in to help with my local fight, donate to One Temecula Valley PAC. If you’re fighting similar things locally, find a group (or start one!) and get involved or support Defense of Democracy.
Keep embracing your communities: those you nurture in your classrooms and those that lift you up as an educator and artist.