Memphis Art Teachers

The Influence of Memphis Art Teachers

By Mary Katherine Kruczek

There sits a blank canvas, new and ready to be painted on. With every brushstroke and every flick of paint a picture begins to form. It takes time and consistent effort to transform the once blank canvas into a masterpiece.  All around Memphis art teachers, such as Mrs. Janis McCarty, Mrs. Allison Webb and Mrs. Jennifer Burford are guiding students on the journey of becoming artists.

Meet Mrs. Janis McCarty – St. Agnes Academy’s high school art teacher of Art 2, 3, and AP and sponsor of the school’s art and literary magazine, Calliope. An artist and teacher for many years, Mrs. McCarty “truly cannot live without putting paint on canvas” and thanks God oft en that He “blessed [her] with students to teach.” Beloved by her many students, Mrs. McCarty teaches with a contagious passion, and her art shines through in all of her work. She  encourages her students to practice the skills they develop in her classroom in all aspects of their lives. She feels that high school artists can have a strong impact in their communities by incorporating their “fresh, new and full of  promise” teenage outlook in community events such as art festivals, volunteer work, and fundraising for the arts. In teaching her students, Mrs. McCarty hopes that they will grow to cherish their artistic gift s from God and remember that “comparison is the thief of joy,” a phrase plastered on her classroom wall as a daily reminder. Additionally, she hopes her students will learn to persevere when things become difficult, in their art and in life, because “sometimes tears make us stronger and more resilient.” In her many years of teaching, Mrs. McCarty has found that she has in fact learned from her students, stating that they have taught her she “can still be young no matter what age [her] driver’s license says.” Most importantly Mrs. McCarty teaches her students to be “lifelong creators and find joy and passion in the process” of their creativity. 

By Ruth Ellen Berry 

St. George’s Independent School is overwhelmingly blessed to have an adored art teacher like Mrs. Allison Webb. Mrs. Webb spends her time on the Collierville campus teaching Middle and Upper School students, and they use her guidance to advance and grow confident in their creativity. In the classroom, she desires to help young artists understand the uplifting process of rebounding from failure and the importance of failing with grace. Th is life lesson is “a huge quality that every student should learn before they move on to the next step in their journey.” Mrs. Webb is repeatedly surprised by the unique creativity that is in every St. George student, and says that the diverse intellectuals at this school inevitably “always hit [her] with a new perspective on something, and it’s awesome.” In the atmosphere of a community, Mrs. Webb advises campus artists to help influence younger students and to use their voices in helping others get involved; while making their own, individual art in their freetime, students will discover their own identity as an artist as well. While also being a mother and wife at home, she continues to create her own, personal pieces on the side, and expresses her opinion that, as an art influencer, “if [she] is making art then [she is] more relevant in teaching art.”

By Annelise Griffin

Mrs. Jennifer Burford is a passionate and inspiring art teacher at Collierville High School. This year will be her 25th year of teaching art students and her contributions to the art community have not gone unnoticed. She received the Rotary Club Teacher of the Month award in March 2007 and February 2014 and the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts- Outstanding Teacher Award, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers”. She encourages her students to create personal artwork that “makes a statement” and incorporates their own values and ideals to make an impact in their communities. She hopes that by doing so they learn to “appreciate the beauty and process of art and gain  confidence in their skills.” Mrs. Burford also motivates her students to learn and understand various forms of art by urging them to visit galleries and museums and attend local art shows in Memphis. Th rough her joyous years of teaching she has learned the “diversity of each student” and how “no two students are alike” which enables her to attain a different approach specifically tailored to each student’s abilities. She aims for students to be persistent and driven by their artwork. “Being an artist is like being a musician or an athlete… you must practice on a regular basis… sometimes daily.” As a painter and printmaker, she continues her passion for art and displays her brilliant pieces. She participates annually in the Double Decker Festival in Oxford, Mississippi among other shows such as the MGAL Autumn Show, WTAEA Teacher Art Exhibit, and her one man show at the Collierville Morton Museum in 2014.

By Laila Travilion

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