This week my own art teachers have been surfacing. My high school art teacher, now 83, was in the news for creating a piece of public art about Covid-19 social distancing. It was aired on a news channel in my hometown and passed on by a friend. Another former art teacher, Heidi Hurley, had some drawings that were popping up in my Facebook feed. Heidi was a professor of mine years ago at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and is also a high school art teacher. I began to really look forward to these drawing and began to seek them out. More intriguing is how she used these drawing to connect and inspire her students, her friends, family and beyond.
Hurley started the challenge because she was sad for what her students were missing. Their annual art show was just hung. “I tried to think of a CHALLENGE to get them going, join in, do something each day. School was closed on a Friday and I started drawing on Saturday and have not stopped” Heidi wrote.
Heidi Hurley is a High School art teacher and K-12 Director of Art and Design for Braintree Public Schools in Massachusetts. Heidi’s teaching has spanned 29 years and all levels from Kindergarten to college. Braintree high school closed on March 16 this year in response to the pandemic. She reports art teachers are providing choice based distance learning. Heidi shares, “My little drawings are meant to be positive, mostly… but when I am feeling down or sad, I really have to share. I miss my kids at school… and have a few drawings that show how sad or happy I was when I think of my students.” Heidi has created a couple of Padlet boards for her students and friends to share their creative pursuits along with her.
Her favorites? “I LOVE Day 10 (the first shown here) because it is EXACTLY how I felt at that moment.” At the beginning of her drawing challenge she started with more serious studies but in time she loosened up and the humor and positive messages started to take the lead. Day 58 (the sixth shown here) is another stand out for her. Mother’s day was without her son and her husband’s focus was on the paper. That sketch she writes, “It says it all, humor sarcasm… you name it.” You can check out all the posts and pick your own favorite in her shared Google Photo Album. Want to join her challenge? Add your work on her Padlet.
Once again we are reminded by arts ability to connect people and its importance during the pandemic. From the balcony concerts in Italy to Heidi’s daily drawing we are reminded that we are not just surviving but finding ways to live and connect with art. While school isn’t in session, our mission as art teachers is still in progress.