I’m hanging out with my friend Elaine Quave at NCECA this year. Check out her work. Her MFA thesis exhibition was one of the most thought-provoking, detailed, and sensitive installations I’ve ever seen – and I only have a slight bias. See, I’ve known Elaine since she was seventeen… and now, this year, we’re teaching colleagues.
Elaine was a student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH) when I worked there for a year, in 2000-2001. The fact that this school ever existed and still exists is beyond remarkable. It’s a residential public high school for the creative and performing arts. That means that South Carolina’s students, once accepted, do not pay tuition to live in a dorm and “study their art in a supportive environment of artistic and academic excellence.” According to the program’s website, “The nine-month residential high school is modeled after a master-apprentice community with an arts faculty who are all practicing artists, as well as educators in their areas of expertise. In addition to rigorous pre-professional arts training, students receive an intense and innovative academic education that fosters connections to the arts while meeting all the requirements necessary for a South Carolina high school diploma.” I can vouch for it – all of this is true, and even better than it sounds.
Elaine went on for a BFA from The University of the Arts (where Kevin Bogan is currently studying, and where Shannon Henry – ‘Shannon Queen of the Universe’ earned her degree) – and then an MFA from Tyler School of Art (where Ryan Wheeler is currently studying, and where Bethany Rusen, who helped us out so much with Empty Bowls this year, also earned her MFA). (Not sure what BFA and MFA stand for?)
Catching up with Elaine over dinner tonight, we talked a lot about teaching – because now, Elaine teaches ceramics at SCGSAH. The school is fairly young – it opened in 1999 – and she’s the first teaching alumnus! At SCGSAH, students follow a progressive curriculum in the arts with high performance and production expectations. Students live on-site and are expected to keep rigorous studio hours. This is Elaine’s first year of teaching there, and her challenges are very different than what I face… but there are still challenges, like in any school. She’s doing an amazing job – three of her students have work in the National K12 Ceramics Exhibition – and she is head-over-heels in love with teaching and with her students.
I’m just somewhat in shock that I’ve been involved in education long enough to have former students who are teaching at the high school level. I hope that Elaine is just the first of many on such a list, as my hair gets grayer!