Moving their work from classrooms to the showroom, a new exhibit at the Kenai Fine Arts Center is featuring the work of local art instructors.
It is not uncommon for someone who is passionate about something, art for instance, to share that through teaching. Once in the classroom, it's also not uncommon for them to have less time to practice the very thing that got them teaching in the first place.
Chris Jenness is one of the art instructors at Soldotna High School. He says it’s a good outlet for him and his colleagues, who might not have as much time as they would like for their own work. And actually finishing a project, on a deadline, is a good lesson for their students, too.
“There’s more than just the picky little assignments where you’re just trying to get things done or trying to get a grade. Art is so much more than that. It’s nice to be able to show that we can put this stuff to use in real life.”
Instructors from Kenai High School, Nikiski, Skyview and K-Beach Elementary all have work on display. There are plenty of paintings, but also photography, sculpture and even recycled jewelry. That work was done by Skyview teacher Andrea Eggleston. She says that ability to experiment and work in different styles, with different materials is what drew her to art and art education.
“It was never ‘somebody taught me how to do exactly this, so I did exactly that.’ That’s what I try to do with my students, too.”
A paper mache mask, like much of her work on display, started in the classroom, as demonstrations for her 7th and 8th graders at Skyview.
“It’s fun to show the students how you can elevate a flat piece of paper into something bold and three-dimensional and expressive and how each one is uniquely different. I also have a wire armature paper mache moose that is inspired by Oaxacan alebrijes, or wooden carvings from Oaxaca, Mexico. I introduce that to my students and show them how they can create a similar expression through our accessible medium.”
I’m intrigued by some of the more abstract work. Chris Jenness says students sometimes think the wierd stuff that doesn’t really look like anything is easier than, say, a faithful reproduction of a photo on canvas.
“It makes me think I could do something like that. I could take that back and show my kids," Jenness said.
Andrea Eggleston says with the more abstract stuff, it’s tough to teach. The key is exposing them to all sorts of different stuff so they can sort of get it, on their own terms.
"I like to share with my kids my own personal experiences. My husband and I designed built our own home. I tell them that just because you’re learning this artistic process, that doesn’t mean that your end result would be a piece of art work that you hang on the wall in the end. It could show itself in different creative ways. As soon as they see the stigma or stereotype as art being something you hang on the wall is taken away, that makes them a little more comfortable to just express and then who knows what direction it will take them.”
The show will be on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai through the month of January.