Tag Archives: Teaching

AN EDUCATOR INTERVIEW: MERCEDES MALTESE

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.

-Hannah

Clay Castles camp. In the first one Mercedes about to load a student’s castle into the kiln.

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’.

Clay castle

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.

8-9 year old students working in the Rogers Clay studio at the Pavilion.

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. 

Paper strip sculpture from a sculpture class with Mercedes.

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.

Dr. Seuss style landscapes created by JDC students, through the AASP program for earth day.

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!

Mercedes teaching the wheel.

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!

Mercedes teaching the wheel, time to paint.

 

Mercedes creating a henna design.

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.

Henna done by Mercedes.
Henna done by Mercedes.

Lindsay Twa: An Educator Interview

Twa HeadshotMeet Lindsay Twa, an Associate Professor of Art and Director of the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery at Augustana University.  She holds a B.A. in studio art and music from Concordia College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research focuses on African-American art and the Black Diaspora, Haiti, and the economic structures of the art world. She has curated nearly 70 exhibitions and her recent book, Visualizing Haiti in U.S. Culture, was published with Ashgate in spring 2014. After a long hiatus, she is back in the studio again and enjoying, as she puts it, the struggles of being a beginner printmaker.

In front of the Taj Mahal.
In front of the Taj Mahal.

Twa is married to Dr. Mark Larson, an Associate Professor of Biology at Augustana College, where he teaches Pharmacology and Biochemistry.  The two love to travel.  Before arriving at Augustana, Mark was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham in the UK.  Being there for three years allowed them to travel throughout Europe, Turkey, Egypt and Israel frequently.

In 2001, after reading Katie Alvord’s book, Divorce Your Car, the Twa family began a “car light” experiment—driving a car once a week or less.  From 2003 until 2010, they went “car free.”  While they returned to owning a car once their son was three months old, they continue to try and be as “car light” as possible by remaining a single-car family.

Twa describes herself as a serious, but amateur, distance athlete. On top of finishing 8 marathons, including the Snowdonia Mountain Marathon in Wales, she has completed two triathlons, and biked across the state of Iowa as a part of RAGBRAI. In 2007, she was an inaugural member of the Central Plains Cycling team and completed races around the Upper Midwest.

“I was the #3 woman in SD that year, though that tells you how few women were racing at the time!” said Twa.

While she finds herself in a range of roles, Twa says her newest and most favorite role of all is being a mother. She and her husband have two boys, Alexander (5) and Isaac (3).

“The days are full, but life has never been so colorful and wondrous,” she said.

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LINDA ACKLAND KOLB – AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

LindaAcklandKolb

When you look at Linda Ackland Kolb’s work, it’s easy to find yourself staring. 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 their progress pieces, to see their home. A residence is an embodiment of a 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. Her thoughtful and articulate words gave soft 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