An art show in Templin Hall features the work of seven area high school art teachers.
The “Artist & Educator” exhibit in the Visual Arts Gallery in Templin Hall opened Nov. 15 and closes Jan. 10, but its effects will last much longer.
The show, put on by Thomas Nelson's Visual Arts Department, features acrylic paintings, watercolors, photography, ceramics and mixed media pieces by seven art teachers representing Bethel, Kecoughtan, Menchville, Phoebus and Woodside high schools.
“The purpose (was) to give them a showcase,” said Cece Wheeler, an art professor at the College and Visual Arts chair. “Art instructors at the high school level don’t have that many opportunities to exhibit.”
This is the first time Thomas Nelson has sponsored an event like this, and nearly 80 attended opening night. Josh Ostraff, an assistant art professor at Thomas Nelson, was instrumental in organizing the show. He said events such as this are important to the teaching community.
“You have these teachers who are working hard who are artists, too,” he said. “You recognize that they need the opportunity to show their work.”
Chris Hakanson, who is in his eighth year as an art teacher at Phoebus, appreciated the opportunity not just to display his works, but for the inspiration the experience provided.
“Walking into the (Templin Hall gallery) I was impressed, and I was more impressed as I walked into the building further,” he said of the surroundings and atmosphere. “In essence, when you see the building you get inspired to do more … You also see work in the halls by famous artists from the area.”
Hakanson added all of that, as well as meeting the Thomas Nelson faculty, is beneficial.
“It is an important thing for me to not only get my creativity exposed, but to have those other things involved also,” he said.
Wheeler noticed the teachers' excitement when they walked in.
“They were just so tickled to see their work up in the gallery,” she said. “It certainly exposes them to another experience that’s important to an artist.”
“These kinds of experiences are really important to them in their career and their development,” he said. “Being able to recognize them as artists and to have something they can put on their resume and connect with students and the community … helps them in terms of what they can bring to the classroom.”
Hakanson participates in three or four shows a year, which benefits his students as well as himself.
“There are lots of ways it helps,” he said. “It does trickle down because the students don’t realize what I do on the outside of school. It inspires if they see it on the walls. It inspires on social media. It inspires when they hear about it later on.”
Ostraff said the impact shows like this can have on high school students can last years because it helps the teachers be more effective. And it shows that these teachers are aspiring artists also; they practice what they preach.
“Teachers have a lot of impact on kids,” he said. “We can have kids come here (to campus), and we can talk to them about programs. But it’s those teachers that will interact with more than we can ever interact with.
“There’s nothing more impactful than when someone gives you information that you know they use it too. It validates it.”