One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John’s Prep
HOMETOWN: Beverly, MA
EDUCATION: Yes. Lots of it! I have my M.Ed. in Integrated Studies from Cambridge College in Boston. For undergrad I went to a small women’s school in Connecticut. There was a dress code. Needless to say, I broke it the second I walked onto campus. And I’ve studied and taken classes all over the place: Massachusetts College of Art; Academy of Art University in San Francisco; Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown; Montserrat College in Beverly; Taos, New Mexico.
YEARS AT ST. JOHN’S: 25
SUBJECT: Studio art, which means drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography.
DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: Do the past ten years still count as “growing up”? If yes, then Haig Demarjian. He’s a print maker. I took a class of his and went in not knowing a single thing about silk screen. I came out with a HUGE amount of information that I just revelled in, because I could come back and teach the kids how to apply it. And the thing I really grabbed onto was when he said, “If it doesn’t look good the first time, change it. Alter it, cut it up, put it away, bring it out again.” That was so freeing. He was my favorite teacher.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TEACH FOR A LIVING?: I kind of fell into it, actually. Initially,I was going into law, but the second I walked into one of the art studios, I knew that I was where I needed to be. I had visions of being the classic artist, living in a loft in Paris. But a friend told me a school near where I lived was looking for someone to work in an art department, so I decided to give it a try. I loved it. I loved it because I was doing it, and that makes all the difference in the world. That was 45 years ago. So it was a good thing to fall into.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?:
They’re all so different, but they don’t think they are. They think they have to fit into a certain “type,” that they have be a certain kind of person. It’s important to me that they understand that they aren’t like anyone else. Every mark they make on the paper is completely unique. And it’s okay! It’s okay to do things a different way. So you start to see them evolve into these fabulous young people who think, and talk, and question. You have a freshman or a sophomore who’s not quite sure of themselves, but as time goes on, they feel more confident and come into themselves.
WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?:
Everything. I get ideas at the strangest times for what kind of project to do. I’ll be gardening, or chopping firewood, and something will pop into my head. But I think taking classes and being around other creative people is important to me. Going back to education, there’s nothing I love more than taking classes with a bunch of artists. I always have such interesting experiences when I take classes; I’m always stimulated by new people. That feeds me, experiencing something, learning something, and I bring it back to the kids. I never want to stop figuring out how to do stuff, ever.
FUN FACT: Too many to choose from! I’ve worked on a farm picking fruit in Ipswich. I have a motorcycle. A woman in Home Depot once asked if I was a landscaper—I wasn’t, but I said yes anyway. I went to Woodstock and had a run-in with a very friendly cow. That was a really fun time; I still have the ticket. You can tell it rained for days because the ticket's all crumpled.