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Teachers show art branches beyond the classroom

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Local art teachers exhibit their work at Wild Earth Gallery

By Becca Owsley

Area art teachers said an upcoming exhibit is providing them an opportunity to grow as artists and set an example for their students outside the classroom.

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Art teachers will display their creations in Paedagogus, an exhibit at Wild Earth Gallery Dec. 7-Jan. 31. Paedagogus is Latin for teacher, said gallery owner LaDonna Bird.

“This exhibit features nine art teachers from Elizabethtown and Hardin County schools, working in a variety of mediums such as glasswork, paintings, drawings, woodcraft and polymer clay,” Bird said.

Morgan Conwell of North Hardin High School is one of the teachers participating in the event. She works with many different mediums but prefers watercolor portraits.

Conwell is honored to be in a show with talented art teachers in the county.

“I am a first-year public school art teacher, so having the opportunity to show with my contemporaries so early in the year has been quite a blessing,” Conwell said.

She hopes to show her students how to apply the skills taught in class to the real world and how to sell their work in many art careers.

“The most important thing we teach in our art classes are ways to improve ourselves creatively,” she said.

And that applies to more than art. With the ever-changing scope of jobs today adaptability is a must, she said.

“A creative person will have an advantage over the rest because being creative helps us with problem solving,” she said. “If we prepare ourselves and our children to become more creative, we will be better equipped to handle future challenges.”

She hopes students see their teachers are “real artists” at work.

“I consider myself an artist first and teacher second,” she said.

Whitney Carpenter, another exhibitor, also teaches art at North Hardin High School. She enjoys graphic artwork using typography, but dabbles in all areas to better demonstrate techniques for her students.

As a teacher, her free time to do artwork is limited.

“I find that for the most part I create the same artwork as my students — as teacher samples — in order to help them visually reference techniques and media more often than creating my own artwork,” she said.

But she said it’s important to have an outlet to exercise her talent as an artist, not just a teacher.

Through the show, she hopes to illustrate her own growth and inspire students to choose art as a profession. But if they don’t choose art as a field, she said, art will show them creative and innovative thinking, which can be applied to any area of study.

Bethany Inman teaches at Heartland Elementary School. When she can find the time to practice her art she will experiment with any medium that makes her happy which can be painting, papier-machè or mixed media.

“I am currently really interested in glass mosaics and I have a glass mosaic piece in the show,” she said.

She hopes to be more active in the emerging Elizabethtown art scene.

“I am also grateful for the opportunity to share some of my work with others and I’m happy to share this as a learning opportunity for my students,” she said.

It’s important, she said, to lead by example and create “lifelong creators” in students.

Sometimes her students see art as something found in big cities or only involving paintings or drawings, she said.

“It’s great to give people a taste of the variety of work that is happening in our own town,” she said.

But many of her students have a passion for art that goes beyond visual arts and also participate in music, dance and drama which she thinks is great to see exposure to the arts at all ages.

Bird said the exhibit will show gallery visitors there is a variety of art in the community waiting to be discovered.

“It can be so diverse and sometimes challenge our way of looking at the world,” Bird said.

Art is for everyone, she said, and should be enthusiastically encouraged.  

A public reception is 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7. The exhibit will run through Jan. 31. Wild Earth Gallery is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily but closed on Tuesdays. The gallery is located at 110 N. Main St. in downtown Elizabethtown. For information, visit www.wildearthgalleryandgifts.com.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@

thenewsenterprise.com.