Stories Celebrating 2017 Arts In Education Week

For National Arts Education Week 2017, LOLA celebrated all week long by sharing the personal stories about the importance of arts in education.  In case you missed it, here are the stories we shared! #BecauseofArtsEd #ArtsEdWeek

Story #1 – Artist Tim Black 

Tim in his studio.

“I grew up in Texas in the 50’s. By the time I was in the 6th grade I was reading on 2nd grade level & still couldn’t keep the alphabet straight in my head. I was labeled a non-learner & just passed from grade to grade. My older brother was a straight A student & my younger brother was reading well beyond me. My parents had no idea what to do with me & just thought & told me I was stupid. My career choices in life were zilch.

I went to summer school every summer just to get through high school. My mother read me most of my history, science & English studies. Writing reports was pointless & math was a disaster. I spent a great deal of time looking at pictures in books & magazines. Somehow I began drawing then painting but had no idea why or what for. I just enjoyed it. I went to college with the understanding according to my father it was a waste of time & money. He was right after one semester I was out.

It 1964 the military draft was looking for boys like me. It was the 1st week of January & I was one A in the draft. My fathers thought was I should join the service. I took one art class in college & made my first ever A. When I left., my art instructor told me about a new art school that I should apply to. So on a Monday I mailed my work & letter to the school & on Friday I got a telegram saying if I could be there on Monday to start the 2nd semester I’d have a full scholarship. Saturday night I was on a bus going north.

The absolute best thing was when I got there it was a school of misfits, weirdos, & social rejects…I was home. I also learned I was dyslexic & not stupid. I spent 4 years there with 2 summers in other art schools. Today at the age of 71, I paint every day for 4 to 8 hours. And I read for no less than 4 hours a day. In between reading novels I read philosophy, physics, chemistry, natural sciences, anthropology & the back of breakfast cereal boxes. If I had missed that one opportunity there is no telling what would of happened to me in a way art saved my life & I never forget that.” – Tim Black

Story #2  – RN and Arts Volunteer Laurie Tellier.

RN and Arts Volunteer Laurie Tellier displaying her artwork from LOLA’s Faux Batik class.

“I am a summer resident of Land O’ Lakes, but volunteer with a 4 year old kindergarten in Florida. The teacher asked me if I could do more art and crafts with the kids. I am an RN and consider myself “craft impaired”. I have told people for many years that I would rather take 10 toddlers backpacking than do art projects with them. But when you volunteer, you do what is needed. So I tried a watercolor, salt, and rubbing alcohol project with them…and the kids thought it was magical!!! I look forward to working with the kids again and bringing all the great art ideas I have thanks to LOLA and Toddler Tuesdays.” – Laurie Tellier

Story #3 – Artist and Return LOLA Teacher, Jane Barnard.

Jane Barnard teaching 4 Seasons of Watercolor at LOLA.

“My teaching experience at LOLA has been a wonderfully creative exchange of ideas, skills, and personal motivation. I do believe that ART HEALS and ART MATTERS! And LOLA has created a nurturing environment for artists at all levels to thrive. Thank you LOLA for including me in your teaching roster!” – Jane Barnard

Story #4 – Artist and Former LOLA Art Intern, Nina Fiorucci.

Nina helping a LOLA student during Nina’s Quirky Birds Art with Recycled Materials class.

“After finishing my first year as a high school art teacher, I am able to look back at my internship with LOLA to truly appreciate the experience. It was invaluable to my development as an art educator. Wendy was an amazing mentor and continues to be so for me. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to practice lesson planning, classroom management and so much more. I believe it better prepared me for my teaching position today…I highly encourage students to pursue the summer internship. I hope it continues and grows for years to come.” – Nina Fiorucci, Artist

Story #5 –  Artist and Friend of LOLA, and Watercolor Wednesday Regular, Helen Hayhurst.

Helen at LOLA’s Watercolor Wednesday

“Being an artist has taught me to see the details in things: people’s and
animals eyes, the colors and shapes in nature, the designs the ripples on
the water makes. When I get in the ‘creative zone’ my mind is free to wander away from the daily lists and chores! LOLA =Laugh Out Loud with Artists!
LOLA is a great place to meet interesting people and take classes to expand
your life experiences. Love it!” – Helen Hayhurst

Story #6 – Artist, Teacher, and LOLA Programming Director, Wendy Powalisz.

Wendy Powalisz - Programming Director at Land O'Lakes Area Artisans Inc
Wendy displaying some of her artwork.

“In my role as Program Director and as a teacher for LOLA, I have the opportunity to see how art education impacts students through classes offered at the center.  ‘I never thought I could make something’, ‘As a younger person, I was told I had no artistic talent’, ‘I can’t do anything artsy’ or ‘I can’t dance’.   These are the statements I hear all the time, yet – these people want to express themselves or create something, it’s embedded in our souls to do so.  With a nurturing teacher, inspiring materials, a safe environment to work in and of course, plenty of fun thrown in – art can be made by anyone.  It’s well documented about the effects art-making can have on a person.  Making art is a means for self-expression, making a statement, creating beauty and because it’s just plain fun to make things, art can give us great joy, positive thoughts and even healing. From the very young to our elders, the reactions I have seen are amazing.  Toddlers are filled with joy and clap for using colors of any kind, older adults feel a pride in their creations.  They become excited by learning something new and want to explore even more artistic possibilities, which in the world of art making, are endless.  I am happy to be a part of LOLA where the philosophy is that “art is for everyone and everyone can make art.” – Wendy Powalisz


Story # 7 – Writer, Photographer & LOLA Marketing Specialist, Adrienne Jaeger.

Adrienne guiding Land O’ Lakes Elementary students as they create art inspired by poetry.


“It’s hard for me to identify one moment to encompass why my arts education is so important to me.  What I continue to come back to are the many excellent educators and mentors I was so fortunate to have.

In high school, my English teacher Peggy Bolle identified my ability as a writer and held me to a high standard, beyond what was required for my general studies.  She encouraging me to submit my work, go beyond the required reading curriculum, and really engage with my education to develop my writing ability.  She gave me James Joyce’s ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ to read, introduced me to one of my favorite authors and opened my eyes to a whole new world of literature.  The more voraciously I read and wrote, the more my teenage fantasy of studying theater in New York began to morph into an insatiable desire to be a writer.

I ended up going to St. Norbert, a liberal arts college, to major in English with an emphasis in creative writing.  My poetry professor Laurie MacDiarmid taught me the importance of revision of my work.  I was incredibly stubborn at first, unwilling to seriously reexamine my writing or be open to revision and feedback.  Laurie was so patient with me and did not give up, believing in me, knowing that in order to improve, to be the best writer I could be I HAD to be able to receive feedback and revise my work.  Yet, she also taught me that I also need to be willing to fight for my work, that if I felt strongly about keeping a line in a poem the way it was, that it was ok.  It was MY work and my responsibility to fight for it.  I don’t think I truly let go of my own ego enough to receive these lessons until about my Junior year.  What Laurie taught me has been part of the strong foundation that has supported me as I continue to grow as a writer.  Professor John Neary’s enthusiasm and passion for literature was contagious.  My senior year he taught a course focused entirely on Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’.  It remains to this day one of the most fascinating, challenging, and inspirational courses of my educational career.

The passion of my art history professor, Father James Neilson was unparalleled.  He was not content for you to just sit there and stare at him while he taught.  He required enthusiasm, engagement, curiosity, dedication, and creativity. It was a joy to be in his presence, witnessing his rapturous love of art.  For my final senior assignment, Father Neilson allowed me to develop a project that brought art and writing together.  I wrote a series of poems inspired by art, opening my eyes to an entire new source of inspiration for my work.  When I was attending the University of Southern Maine-Stonecoast for my M.F.A. in poetry, I found out that there was a name for that kind of writing: ekphrastic poetry.  I ended up writing my critical graduate thesis on ekphrastic poetry.  Looking back, I am amazing at how so many of my experiences of art in my education build upon the other.  My arts education brought inspirational people into my life, made me a better writer, better teacher, and shown me that my writing is my art.” – Adrienne Jaeger, Writer


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