Art Teachers Share Works

Art educators in the North Kansas City School District opened an exhibition of their work Feb. 2 at the Gladstone Community Center, 6901 N. Holmes. For many years, according to District Visual Art Coordinator Mark Anderson, a primary goal of the district has been to seek out and hire candidates who are not only great art teachers but also great artists. “Today North Kansas City Schools employs 44 visual art educators, many of whom continue to produce a diverse range of artworks while sharing their expertise with students,” Anderson says.

Most of the art teachers attended the opening reception. Husband and wife teachers Heather and Matt Sulzen brought in three pieces of art for the display. Heather, a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, teaches at Winnetonka High School. Matt, a graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia, teaches at Eastgate Middle School.

“We are showing artists. We put our work out there too,” Heather says. “I have had my work on exhibit too. It’s not always easy to put your work out there. However, it is something we do in my classes. When we finish projects, we critique them. Being part of an exhibit, I do open up my own work for critique.”

Heather’s works on display are titled “Till Death Do Us Part” and “My Sky Is Falling.” “It was about a month before I married when I was working on the pieces. The common theme in most of my work is nature. I majored in print making so it’s common to see a sort of mixed media approach to my work. I experiment with different materials. In my classroom, I talk with the students all the time that you can work with whatever you can find. Art doesn’t have to require expensive supplies.” As a first-year teacher, Heather says her students inspire her too. She is even working on mixed media paintings that she says are inspired by her students.

Heather’s husband, Matt, is in seventh year of teaching. “It’s important for art to be viewed. A community center is a far more accessible place than a museum or gallery. After the initial reception, many galleries are tough to get into. Here there is a chance for the community to see the art.”

Matt says the students and the community can see the pride they as teachers take in their work. His work, “Frank’s Farm,” incorporates metal and wood found on a relative’s farm. “I like when found and recycled materials come together. I also like how wood and metal represent the opposite ends. It’s the natural world taking on the industrial one.”

Matt has been building furniture, including new works for the Sulzen home. He has also worked on commissions for others. “It has been several years since I have had work in a public space,” he says. “It’s a fun space to have our work.”

The Gladstone Community Center exhibition of teacher art will entertain another artist reception March 5 for fellow Missouri art educators in conjunction with the Missouri Art Education Association annual state conference and Kansas City’s First Friday Art Walk event in the Crossroads District. The MAEA, the state affiliate of the National Art Education Association, boasts a membership in excess of 600 art educators and is the fifth largest state organization in the country.

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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