Episode 93: Suzanne Joyal: Something From Nothing

Suzanne Joyal had great advice about working with students with disabilities, which really applies to working with all students. I loved hearing about her path to teaching through motherhood and how she advocated for the arts in schools. It was also inspiring to hear about her art practice and how she overcomes artist block. 

Calling herself an artist is relatively new to Suzanne. She spent many years fitting art-making in around being a mother, a teacher, an entrepreneur, and an advocate for women and girls. Now, Suzanne’s work in arts education continues to inspire her art. 

Suzanne has exhibited her paintings and sculptures at galleries throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles. She is intrigued by the possibilities of paper: books, collage, as painting surfaces. Suzanne finds the best part of art-making to be experimenting, pushing how far she can push her materials to achieve the layers of color and texture she sees in her world. Suzanne’s paintings often include an icon from another part of her life: a drawing from a Zambian woman, a new way to use materials learned from one of her young students, a bird seen outside of her window, cloud formations noticed while doing other work.  

Suzanne found her passion teaching visual art to students with disabilities 12 years ago at Youth in Arts. Now Suzanne writes curriculum, coaches newer teaching artists on ways to work with students with disabilities, provides professional development workshops for educators, and advocates for equity and accessibility in arts education. Suzanne began her career as a teaching artist in 1998 when she co-created and directed Purple Crayon Art Studio in San Francisco. She then founded the U.S. branch of Give A Jump Start, a microfinance program for women in Zambia.

Suzanne holds a degree in Art History from Wellesley College and has worked as an appraiser of fine prints for Butterfield and Butterfield auction house. In 2020, Suzanne received her Master of Arts in Adaptive Arts Education from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.