The sun smiling down upon Sioux Falls, unmuffled by clouds, I leisurely walk into the East Bank Art Gallery. Instantly enchanted by the creative expressions of local artists hung from wall to wall, I am warmly greeted by John Nelson; a man modest in stature but enormous in personality and compassion. I am surprised to find that he is a free-spirited, easy going guy, with a contagious smile that never seems to leave his face. He pulls out two chairs, hand-painted with bright colors and complemented with delightful flowers. Treating me as an old friend, we chat for a while before I get around to interviewing him. – Patrick
As a fellow employee of the Washington Pavilion, I have had the chance to meet Mercedes before interviewing her for JAM’s Educator Interview. We meet regularly at the Pavilion to go over future lesson plans, and she is there to help other teachers understand the more artistic processes with children. Mercedes leaves quite the great impression! She’s wonderful at creating a fantastic learning experience, even with adults. She especially cares enough to make sure every child understands, and is having fun with the projects. It was amazing to have that student to teacher base impression of her before sitting down and chatting.
Where/what do you teach and what ages?
I teach at the Washington Pavilion, ages pre-k through seniors. I teach drawing, painting sculpture and ceramics. I teach outreach to youth at risk at Juvenile detention center, Multicultural Center, Bowden Youth Center, and other afterschool programs funded by grants in the Action Arts and Science Program (AASP).
I teach private lessons, home school lessons, art smarts (primarily school field trips to the Pavilion) OLLI classes, and pottery classes like ‘Wine on the Wheel’.
What inspired you to begin your teaching career? Was the goal always teaching?
I knew I wanted to be an art teacher in 3rd grade. I had great art teachers in middle and high school that encouraged me to stay in the arts. Lori Boldt, Maureen Kaul and Sara Winterscheidt to name a few.
Is there a specific rule of thumb, style, or method that you like to follow when you teach?
Practice every day! Work those art muscles! Step out of one’s comfort zone. If one always draws the same thing, they’ll get really great at drawing that thing. One should try to draw other things, too! For example, I try to push people away from the classic “corner sunshine” composition and ask them if there is another way to put the sun in their picture. In my opinion, art is 90% problem solving and 10% skill.
What are your favorite aspects about teaching?
Watching the self-discovery, and winning the students over. Sometimes they come into the room and see the project we will be working on, and the first thing out of their mouth is, “We’re making that? I can’t do that.” Then when class is over they are usually pretty impressed with themselves.
Is there anything that you would want to change about teaching?
Not now. I taught in the public school system for a few years in Georgia, and grading art for 600 students was a challenge. I also felt I didn’t get to know my students very well. Now I teach in an informal setting at the Pavilion where there are no grades; only learning and exploration and discovery without pressure to make the grade. My students are in my classes because they choose to be, and that feels awesome!
Would you give us a glimpse into your hobbies and interests? What are some of your favorite pass times?
My 15 year old daughter and I like to sing and play a few instruments. I like to play in my garden and I love to feed people delicious food. I do Henna tattoos as a side business, When I get a chance to do art for myself, I like to make drums out of clay and cover them with goat skin. Then I do custom Henna designs on the skins of the drums.
Thinking about the future, what is a larger-than-life goal that you might have?
I would love to travel the world. I was able to visit Europe for the first time last year. Ireland was such a grand experience that it wet my appetite for more traveling.
Are you part of, or are you planning any big events with the public?
Well, we do a lot of outreach through the Pavilion at special events like the Pride Festival, Down Town Riverfest and Jazz Fest. It’s usually easy to find our table. Just look for all the kids having fun!
Can anyone sign up for classes with you?
Yes. Anyone. You’ll find most of the classes I teach at Washingtonpavilion.org. I’ve done private and semi-private lessons with students from 4 to 94.
Using three words how would you describe yourself and style of teaching?
Passionate, creative and FUN!
ANNOUNCEMENT: JAM Art and Supplies will be having Mercedes Maltese create henna body art both July and August First Fridays 7-8:30 pm. We’ll be open late till 9 pm.
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.
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.
Teachers are one of our primary customers at the JAM store. We love helping teachers find what they need, inspire projects or provide ideas for classrooms and students! Are you a teacher? Here are 5 great reasons to come out and support the event!
JAM is here for your classroom needs. JAM’s primary purpose is to offer deeply discounted art and craft supplies to anyone and everyone. From markers and crayons, to drawing pads to old frames to fabric, the store is filled to the brim with items you could be using in your classroom for decorations, projects, crafts, or even to stock up on extra supplies for student’s that don’t have any.
JAM is here for your students. If you do not know about JAM, your students may not either. Many kids in the Sioux Falls School District have a hard time paying for lunch, let alone art supplies. Promote JAM in your classroom! Let your students and student’s parents know where they can get quality art supplies that do not break the bank.
Other teachers will be there. Every year, we interview teachers in our Art Educator Interview series. (Know of someone who should be featured? Contact us!) We love hearing what teachers have to say about art in our community and classrooms. Mingle with other art supporters and bounce creative ideas off of each other.
We look forward to seeing you at the show on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Icon Event Hall + Lounge.
When you look at LindaAcklandKolb’s work, it’s easy to find yourselfstaring. That’s okay; I don’t blame you. Touching on inspiration from nature, fashion, and her musical background, Kolb utilizes pastels and beeswax to produce vibrant, controlled pieces suspended in soft, soapy deliciousness. Having spent several years working with mixed media, she has rendered some of that technique to her wax pieces, and it reads incredibly well. I was excited to view her work in person, and was even granted the pleasure of being walked through the technical nature of her creative process.
That is what I treasure most with these interviews, the opportunity to see an artist’s work space, to see theirprogress pieces, to see their home. A residence is an embodiment ofa person; small nuances giving circular direction right back to the source. A home resonates with memories, motives, little bits of your soul wrapped into those things your hold most precious. With Kolb, her Sioux Falls home is just as warm and bright as her seemingly perpetual smile. Several months ago, chatting by the warm glow of a fragrant Christmas tree, Kolb shared with us the necessity of creativity as a child, and the strength of perseverance when pursuing your goals. Herthoughtful and articulate words gavesoft guidance and strong advice. I found myself pulled in by her kindness, and hope that it translates through to you, the reader. Breathe in, breathe out, muster a smile and treat yourself to a great read about a lovely person. ~Amy
What is the path that has led you to where you are today?
My mom had a great influence over me and my siblings. We got along with what we had, and we used basic things to entertain ourselves, to be creative in some way. I grew up on a farm, so we pounded nails in some boards and floated them across the stock tank. She made our prom dresses. She was a seamstress, along with my grandma, so I’m sure I picked up some of that from her. She would put Continue reading LINDA ACKLAND KOLB – AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW→