Exhibition celebrates art educators of all kinds

Making art provides avenues for expression and communication, engaging communities in a dialogue around ideas of beauty, history, social justice and more.

Teaching art also does all of those things, as one generation passes along the value of the individual voice of the artist to the next.

This dual call of the art instructor is at the heart of “Visionaries: Raising the Future with Imagination,” an exhibition of work by Central Ohio artists/teachers that opens Friday, July 5, at the Carnegie Gallery at the Main Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

It's a celebration of both education and art, said exhibition organizer Stephanie Rond, who built on an idea shared with her by Columbus City Schools art teacher Maggie Rapp Boggess.

“I wouldn't be where I am today without [the teacher at] Tuttle Park [Community Center], Teresa Weidenbusch, who really encouraged the track I'm on, and Pheoris West,” Rond said of those who've encouraged, mentored and paved the way for her to have a career in art, also mentioning her teachers at Fort Hayes Career Center and Ohio State University by name. “They were teaching technique, but the most important thing they taught me was that my voice mattered.”

“I remember being in high school ceramics and looking over at my teacher and realizing that what she was doing was an actual job,” Boggess said with a laugh. “It's the best job, to help kids be creative and to connect kids to each other and, sometimes, to the school or to their studies. I think if you ask teachers, most will tell you there are two or three kids who might not feel like they fit in a traditional classroom, but something like an art class can get them connected and engaged.”

Boggess said her students aren't represented, directly or metaphorically, in her art, but that they do provide inspiration, and that she does bring ideas from her work into the classroom.

“They call me Mrs. B, or sometimes ‘the crazy bee lady,'” Boggess said. “It's a family thing that we share bee-related gifts and images with each other. Plus, I think we all should have an awareness and concern over hive and colony collapse. But I have bees all over my classroom. My work is about that, and is filled with a sense of wonder.”

Rond said her hope is that viewers can also learn a little bit about art from these educators by experiencing the work they've made.

“What I have seen from the artists in this exhibition is that they have a passion and talent for how to teach other people to be excited about art. They are individuals who really care about how other people impart their voice, and who share the excitement and beauty and what art making can do for the soul,” Rond said.