A morning bell rings at Roosevelt High School, and outside a room in the deepest recess of the C Wing of visual and performing arts, Erin Nguyen waits smiling outside her ceramics classroom. As the high-schoolers file in, I note that it’s only the second week of a new semester, and Erin is able to greet each of her students by name.
Known as “Miss Winn,” to her students, Erin lives in Sioux Falls with her husband, Dan. She has ten years of teaching experience, and has spent the last two working her “dream job” at Roosevelt. Consummately expressive with her face and her words, Erin laughs easily and speaks at a leisurely pace, drawing out the vowels of certain words, turning her conversation into a kind of melody.
Art teachers are blessed in Sioux Falls, said Sherri Sherard, art educator at Edison Middle School. They are given leeway, and are able to be creative in how they teach and in what they teach.
That creative allowance shows in the array of tools and materials that line Sherard’s art supply room shelves. Students in her classroom are able to experience a wide range of artistic trades and crafts. Like many art educators know, not every student is going to be an artist. However, as Sherard notes, at least they gain the experience and process of creating certain things, like using a loom to weave. Sherard’s lessons are not just a practice in technique, they are woven with culture and history.
Eugene Field A+ Elementary School is a unique place. It is South Dakota’s first A+ school, and is the only one in Sioux Falls. With A+ standing for “Arts Plus Academics,” arts integration and collaboration are two of the four pillars of the A+ program. The classroom teachers and arts teachers collaborate to ensure that the curriculum is taught through the arts, and the arts taught through the curriculum. It is a creative environment for unique learning. With 80% open enrollment, an arts-oriented education is exactly why students enroll, and exactly what draws educators like Megan Boschee.
Originally from Watertown, Boschee received her arts education degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen. Her first two years of teaching consisted of traveling from school to school teaching art in Sioux Falls. When a more rooted position opened up at Eugene Field, Boschee knew if she did not at least apply, she would regret it. A firm believer that students learn in different ways that need to be accommodated, she was compelled by the idea of a school that focused on arts integration and incorporated Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. She was elated when she was offered the position, and has been at home there, in her own classroom, for the last 6 years.
Boschee is also no stranger to JAM. She and JAM’s Jess Johnson met when Johnson presented at a teacher in-service. After hearing how JAM could support classroom education, Boschee got in contact with Johnson about presenting at Eugene Field’s Multiple Intelligence Day (MI Day, for short). So far, JAM has presented on creative reuse for two of those events, and has become a student favorite. In fact, some of you may remember the interactive shoebox installation at Art Maze. That was a product of last December’s MI Day. Boschee’s students were thrilled to have the opportunity to be featured in a professional art show.
Another fantastic way Boschee exposes her students to the life of a professional artist is by allowing them to pick and publish their own art on an online portfolio. It is something she has trained nearly all of her students, K-5, to do on an iPad. Pretty phenomenal. Prior to receiving five additional iPads last month, by applying for grant funding through the Sioux Falls Education Foundation, Boschee’s classroom shared only one iPad (yet, still managed to publish around 1,000 pieces). Receiving five additional devices has immensely accelerated students’ ability to publish work in portfolios on Artsonia (1,000 pieces alone since January).
Artsonia is an online student art museum that allows parents/individuals to view and purchase children’s artwork. Funds generated through the site help purchase art supplies for Boschee’s classroom. Check out the rad work of future local Sioux Falls artists here.
Aside from watching musical theater, hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and listening to podcasts, Boschee also enjoys creating her own art. As an artist, she draws inspiration from graphic design, particularly magazine ads, window displays, and billboards. Her artistic focus is largely mosaics, which is apparent in nearly every surface of her house. While it is a creative release that she mainly does for herself, she hopes to market and sell her work in the future. -TNZ
Meet Megan Boschee.
What led you to teach?
My mom is an art teacher, as well. When I was growing up, I was convinced that I was not an artist and that it was my mom’s thing, but not mine. I enjoyed art as a child, but it was never my focus. During my senior year of high school I took a few art classes that I figured would be “easy” electives and I completely fell in love with creating. I actually had a moment in my painting class where I was working on a project and I was so focused that the bell rang for dismissal and I hadn’t even noticed. I remember thinking that if I loved art that much it should definitely be what I do professionally.
What do you hope to teach to your students?
I hope to give my students an exposure to many art styles and techniques, so that they are able to be creative and are filled with a belief that great art can be created in many ways. I also hope that my students develop the courage to continue creating throughout their life. Most of all, I hope that my students will see that art is everywhere they look, and not just in museums or galleries.
Tell me about your teaching style.
I am strict on procedures, but open to variety. My students know what I expect of them when it comes to taking care of the materials and maintaining order in the classroom. I don’t have a lot of rules (my only rule is “Do your job”), but we practice everything. Every material that is introduced comes with procedures that we review.
While creating, my students know that I will support their artistic choices. I encourage them to try something new, even if it means their project won’t turn out the way they hoped. I’m looking for individual results and not cookie cutter perfection.
What is your favorite medium to teach?
I love to teach painting—especially watercolor. It is a very friendly medium for my young students, and most of my students feel successful with it.
What is the most important thing you teach your students?
That art is everywhere. Everything that they touch had an artist involved. Living your life can be a very artistic experience when you view the world in this way.
Who are your favorite artists?
I love Andy Warhol—the way that he took such simple objects and created interesting images. The whole pop art movement is fun and my students love learning about it. I’m also a huge fan of graphic design. I find it very inspiring. Advertisements are my favorite part of magazines.
If you weren’t an art teacher, what would you do? What is your dream job?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a hair stylist.
What type of art do you personally enjoying making? Crafts?
I paint (acrylic and watercolor) and I create glass mosaics—usually functional pieces like tables.
What keeps you teaching?
Creating is crucial to living a happy life. My job allows me to guide young people toward a life of creating. Teaching provides me with a secure income, a schedule that allows me to spend time with my family and most of all it allows me to create every day.
How would you like to be remembered?
I hope I will be remembered in a positive way…beyond that I don’t have any specific wishes about my memory. I always tell my students that they get to create a story for their art, and then the viewer can create their own story about it. I would apply that same idea to how people remember me. They can have their own story. I just hope it is a positive one.
Can’t find a sitter so you can come out and support the Sweet Art Show? Excellent. Bring them along!
Kids are our favorite. For real. We love kids. Teaching kids in our group classes, private lessons, and seeing their eyes light up when their little, creative minds get to spinning – there is nothing like it. We love kids. We would love to see yours at the Sweet Art Show.
It is a kid-friendly event. We want families to attend. We are serving ice cream for everyone from little to big. There will also be some tasty snacks to munch on, as well. There is something for everyone (including adult beverages for mom and dad).
It is winter, and activities for kids are hard to find sometimes. So, bundle up the family and get out of the house to support a great cause.
There is a kid activity table. Let your child’s imagination run wild with the arts and crafts table we will have set up for them to play at. Socialize with friends and let your little ones have fun.
Let them experience an art show. Have you ever taken your kids to an art show? This would be a fantastic opportunity to show them how to admire and appreciate art, as well as meet the people who created the art.
The Sweet Art Show is the annual fundraiser for our nonprofit. It fuels our organization throughout the year. Money raised from this event is critical to the success of JAM. We look forward to seeing you at the show on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Icon Event Hall + Lounge.
Everyday JAM receives donated, lightly used art supplies that they are able to turn around and get into the hands of artists and crafters at an affordable price. That is just one stroke of the paintbrush. JAM Art and Supplies fosters community. Whether it is through their classes and workshops or their website’s First Friday Reviews and Inspiring Interviews, they are a palette of resources for the Sioux Falls art scene. To support that work, JAM hosts an annual fundraiser – the Sweet Art Show, two days before Valentine’s Day. If you heart art, you will not want to miss it.
Last year, with attendance exceeding 250 people, the first Sweet Art Show raised more than $10,000. Thanks to those generous sponsorships and donations, JAM was able to further their mission in 2015. They offered classes and workshops to Sioux Falls artists and children – ranging from free art clubs for middle school and high schoolers, business coaching classes for artists, private lessons, as well as toddler yoga and sing-alongs. They also held their first creative reuse summer camp last August. Kids 8 to 13 learned what creative reuse was, and were also introduced to art installation. As a group, they developed a concept and turned Exposure Gallery into a “candy thunderstorm.”
Last year’s event was held at the Museum of Visual Materials, and featured the work of 16 local artists. Other sweet attractions included a gourmet ice cream social with toppings (created by Chef Lance Catering), a cash bar, silent auction, a create your own Valentine station, and a surprise performance by the Washington High School drumline.
The night will also include the gourmet ice cream bar and other tasty treats, a presentation of an artist advocacy award, live music by Elisabeth Hunstad, raffle prizes…plus a huge surprise that will give you a taste of just how sweet JAM really is.
Looking forward, along with acquiring space for a classroom and providing scholarships for private drawing lessons, JAM looks to send staff to a Monart Method drawing seminar and a Visual Thinking Strategies workshop – both art-based teaching methods that increase core learning skills, comprehension, and problem-solving skills. Funds will also help sustain and improve JAM’s website, increase creative reuse summer camps to 4, and provide more class and workshop opportunities to Sioux Falls artists and children in 2016.
New year, new goals, one strong mission: get art supplies in the hands of local artists. Get involved, yo!
Exclusive sponsorship opportunities are available for you or your business! Become an art advocate, and support a nonprofit that is making waves in the Sioux Falls community. For more information on sponsoring JAM and the Sweet Art Show, please ask to see the 2016 Sponsorship Commitment Form or contact Jess. Share with your business-owning friends too.
Other great ways to get behind the mission? JAM takes merchandise donations year-round, and is always looking for volunteers.
Check out more of last year’s event below. We will see your face on February 12!
Chad Nelson’s roots in art and craft are well grounded. His father is an accomplished woodworker and studied art in college. His mother works needle point, quilting, and sewing. Nelson, himself, is an art teacher at Brandon Valley High School, and is also a skilled printmaker. However, printmaking was secondary, Nelson wanted to be a teacher. It is a passion he attributes to the strong role models he has had in his life – from his mom and dad, to his high school art teacher, to college professors.
“Not only did they teach me how to be an artist, they taught me how to be a person, too,” said Nelson. “They were all very caring, and usually went beyond their roles of just a teacher, [et cetera]. It very much affected me, and I wanted to do that for other people, too.”
I have not stepped foot in the halls of a high school during school hours in over 10 years. Initially, everything seemed pretty true to form, aside from everyone having his/her own laptop and a smart phone. Lunch hour was still the same balance of chaos and control, even more so were the halls in between class periods – like a Jackson Pollock of noises, bodies and puberty. The minute you walk into Mollie Potter’s classroom, there is a very contrasting tranquility. Whether it is the neatly lined rows of empty tables ready like blank canvases, the organized walls of previous art assignments or the instrumental yoga music, you immediately feel a particular kind of focus. This is a place to create, and I want to stay. Forever.
Jeff Ballard is searching. Like so many other souls, he is seeking that inexplicable trail, the elusive marriage of space and time, and our purpose within it. Comforted by solitude and the ever-pulsing company of his own thoughts, Ballard keeps himself open to whatever the universe may be trying to whisper into his subconscious. He quells the unknown with his study of relationships, seeking out intent and purpose between loved ones, nature and even God. As an artist, Ballard’s work is exploratory, his paintings giving reference to the struggle of just trying to make sense of it all. There is a painful awareness of the flux in life, if only to give fuel to further push through to clarity, and give an understanding glance to the metaphysical.
Jeff Ballard was raised in Sioux Falls, and received his MFA in painting from the University of South Dakota. He teaches art at Dakota State University and the University of Sioux Falls, where he is also the Gallery Director. Ballard is a co-founder of the Sioux Falls publication “The Local Artist,” a biannually released magazine featuring ten local artists a year.* Chatting with Ballard was a delightful, moving experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity. ~Amy
*The Local Artist is accepting submissions for their 2016 issue until October 19th. Apply here.