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Episode 26: Melanie Anderson: Painting Happiness

Melanie Anderson has been teaching for 18 years, but had a 15 year career in advertising before going into teaching. She talks about the difficult decision to leave her first career in order to devote herself to motherhood and then her path to teaching. 

Melanie shared so much encouraging advice and experience. It felt so hopeful and helpful to hear her perspective as a parent. I definitely need that reminder to soak up this time with my daughter and give myself some grace with all the other things. This life is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be time when I won’t be juggling quite so much and maybe now I need to set down a few things momentarily. Do you feel that way?

This conversation was recorded the week that George Floyd was murdered and I awkwardly asked Melanie about addressing racism as a white teacher. It’s something that has been a part of my teaching practice for years, but I’m still (and will always be) figuring out how to do anti-racism and anti-bias work as a teacher and now as a podcaster. I appreciated Melanie’s willingness to share her thoughts and how she sees her role as amplifying student voices. Scroll down for a short video about the student project she talked about, which looks at stereotypes.

Melanie also talked about the book she has been working on, which sounds so exciting! Keep an eye out for Melanie’s book! 

Melanie earned her BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Memphis and her Masters of Art Education from Memphis College of Art.  She began her career as a graphic designer and served as the Director of Advertising for Catherine’s Stores Corporation for fifteen years before becoming an art educator.  She is a working artist, high school art teacher, and dog advocate living in Arlington, TN, a suburb of Memphis. She was recently named the West TN Art Educator of the Year, and she serves on the board of the TN Art Education Association. 

Melanie is most recognized for her large scale paintings of colorful, happy dogs. 

Her personal artwork was featured in 2014 and 2016 in the Incite: Mixed Media Series published by North Light Books, and was featured in August 2020 in the a special edition of acrylic works from Artists Magazine.  Her work and teaching practices are featured inthe college textbook Teaching and Learning in Art Education by Deborah Sickler-Voigt.  Melanie is in the process of writing a book entitled You Can Be A Maker: How to Find the Time and Space to Create. Her work can be found in personal art collections around the country.

Artist Statement: Why I paint dogs…

Dogs are gifts wrapped in spontaneity and freshness.  A dog’s experience is always new, even when catching the Frisbee for the fifty-seventh time.  With open hearts and soaring spirits, they brightly color our world.  My paintings represent the pure nature of liberation that dogs embody.  They remind me to be fully present and free.  I am lucky enough to have two willing subjects of my own to inspire me daily.  Their antics provide me with an endless amount of subject matter.

Links:

AP Student Spotlight: A Look at Stereotypes by Lanyce Williams

Annual AHS Art Show:

Art 2: The Memory Project: Students draw portraits for orphans in Peru


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