Rachel is our Education Co-Director, the creative mind behind our innovative curriculums. We asked her a few questions about her experience as a teacher (or "art doctor") and her love for art as a child.
How would you define yourself as a creator?
Tough question! If I had to choose one word: resourceful. I can make something out of almost anything. I love experimenting with materials, layering materials, working on a few things at the same time so I can start a piece and then come back to it later with an aha moment or with a fresh perspective. Ocassionally I have a specific vision in mind but most times whatever I'm working on goes through a true evolution of sorts.
These days I don't really create art just to create art. I create things for people or by request. I thrive when I'm faced with a design challenge like a wedding invitation, a painting for a child's room, a book plate to memorialize someone special, and protest posters. I also tell my students that in addition to being an artist and a teacher I'm an "art doctor," meaning I can typically fix alllllmost anything when it comes to an art project.
Did you begin your art career as a child?
Growing up my mom was an artist. She was an oil painter and had a painted-clothing business in the 80's (it's exactly like you're picturing, and yes I know you're jealous). We had every craft and art supply imaginable. I would go down to our basement for hours and just make stuff out of all kinds of things. I loved entering art poster contests for local organizations and any kind of diorama-like school project that required an art component. The highlight of my birthday every year was getting to pick out a DIY project from the S&S catalog for my birthday party.
What inspired you as a child?
When I was in third grade and in a Montessori program all the classes worked together to transform an entire hallway of our school into a big rainforest. We even had humidifiers pumping mist, animal sounds playing, and raised money for anti-deforestation efforts. We created all of the greenery, animals, everything. I'm not sure what the experience was really like but as a 9 year old it was the most magical thing I had ever seen or been a part of. Then in fifth grade my science teacher focused a lot on environmental issues. I was so inspired by how passionate she was. I remember that we even had class contests to see who could bring in their lunch using the most earth-conscious packaging. Oddly enough, science was never my favorite once I got to sixth grade and beyond. However I do think those experiences really impacted the types of art materials I'm drawn to and how I approach art making and teaching. I also now develop art projects for kids that tap into and connect many academic and social contexts.
What do you think we can learn from our MinniArtists?
Kids ask the best questions and have way better ideas than adults! I always keep post-its around when I'm teaching because I often get asked a really good question that I don't have the answer to and need to look up the answer to at a later time. Also, I LOVE when I have a vision for a project but the young artists I'm working with get inspired in a totally different way and create something wayyyy better than I could have imagined.