Washington County art educators share passion through annual exhibit
“It is the supreme art of the teacher,” Albert Einstein said, “to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
The Washington County Art Educators Exhibit provides an opportunity for WCPS art teachers to share the fruits of their own creative expression with the community at large.
The 9th annual event will open with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Washington County Arts Council in downtown Hagerstown. The exhibit continues through Tuesday, Feb. 26. There will be an artist talk from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2.
EDUCATOR AND EXHIBITOR
Art educator Matt Wilson showed his work publicly for the first time at last year’s exhibit and described it as an enjoyable experience.
Wilson said teachers give so much time and energy to their students that they often lack time to pursue their own artwork. The exhibit gives them an incentive by providing an opportunity to display their work, he said.
Now the WCPS visual art curriculum specialist, Wilson is in charge of planning this year’s exhibit. He said the artist’s talk is a new aspect.
“A few of the art teachers will have a chance to share about themselves as artists and their work,” he explained during a telephone interview.
Wilson said exhibitors can be current or retired Washington County art teachers. Of a total of 47 WCPS visual arts educators, he said there were about 20 participants last year. Their art represented diverse media from painting and photography to sculpture and ceramics.
PUTTING LESSONS INTO PRACTICE
Barbara Ingram School for the Arts teacher Todd Geiman has participated in the exhibit every year since the event’s inception. His work won the People’s Choice Award in 2017 and 2018.
“Being the lead visual art teacher at BISFA doesn’t leave much time for personal art-making,” he said in an email interview. “(However) I do think it’s necessary for an art teacher to be an expert in the field of art and a practicing artist.”
Much of his work mirrors what he’s teaching in the classroom as he creates models for students to emulate.
Geiman did not always plan to be a teacher. He was a business major in college until an art appreciation class changed his path.
“I realized that through art I had a voice. It gave me direction that I hadn’t had before,” he said.
Geiman immersed himself in art classes and museum trips as he experimented with various ways of making art.
“It was in that first clay class that I became hooked on clay,” he said. “I had found my medium.”
He described the feeling of working on the potter’s wheel as “almost medicinal” and “euphoric,” he said. “It helps to center me as a person. It helps to make me feel complete.”
Geiman said he became an art educator “to provide others with the type of transformative experience art had provided for me.”
He has spent all 28 years of his career with WCPS.
“Teaching is hands down the best occupation ever,” he said. “It’s afforded me the opportunity to share the magic of art with so many people.”
Geiman noted that a successful career in art is based on hard work and drive as much as talent.
“If you want something in life, do your best to envision it,” he said when he advises students. “Make every decision or choice based on that goal.”
As an artist, Geiman said, his goal “is to create sculptural works of art that move people to act for the betterment of society.”
His award-winning 2018 exhibit entry was a ceramic and mixed-media piece that addressed the Trump administration’s restrictions on language use by government agencies.
The 2017 piece was titled “Make America Great Again.” His creative process involved creating red, white and blue vases, smashing them, and then using the pieces to craft a representation of the American flag. The piece was sold at the exhibit, and Geiman donated the profits to the ACLU.
“I’m an environmentalist and everything that goes along with that: vegan, animal rights advocate/activist, anti-consumer…” he said. “I try to spread some goodness and joy every day.”
Top photo: Barbara Ingram School for the Arts art teacher Todd Geiman will have works displayed as part of the Washington County Art Educators Exhibit at the Washington County Arts Council. (Submitted photo)