Street spirit: Talented teachers

Friday, October 1, 2010

The best teachers are those who've been there. Those people who have practiced what they preach.

Sometimes it's hard to see the experience of an instructor when learning is relegated to listening to them in a classroom where you only have words and anecdotal stories about the subject.

Sometimes we ask students to just blindly trust their teachers to know what they're talking about, but this month, two exhibits at galleries downtown will show students what their teachers have been saying.

The Black Door Gallery has more than 30 sculptures, paintings, photographs and works in other media practiced by the art teachers of the Cape Girardeau public school system -- from Alma Schrader to Blanchard to Central High School, where Beth Thomas works.

The work of the 11 artists who happen to teach at elementary- and secondary-education institutes is complemented by a show at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, which has art from professors at a higher-learning institution. "Surface" at the arts council sets professors beside a few of their students.

At that show, we'll get to see the dual workings of art teachers. Their art -- metal sculpture, clay sculpture and drawings -- will be in the third section of the gallery, while the results of their guidance will be displayed in the middle section.

Thomas, the brains behind the Black Door teacher exhibit, has a history of grouping artists together and getting them to produce art. She also coordinates an all-woman show at Black Door each year.

Getting these teachers to create new art for the show not only allows students to see the talent of their teachers, but it also spurs the teachers to actually use their talents. Too many times we put away our passions for our positions: I am a worker. I am a parent. I am a spouse.

These exhibits have given them the opportunity to pause and show a crucial position they all occupy: I am an artist.

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