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 President’s Message  RI Art Educator of the Year Awards Ceremony   Scholastics Awards  Early Childhood News  Elementary, Middle, and High School Roundtable  Youth Art Month  NAEA Eastern Region Vice –President Elect Peter Geisser  RISD Project Open Door  STEM to STEAM  S.C.R.A.P.S. Conference Recap  “Golden Artist” Mission Statement

The Mission of the Rhode Island Art Education Association is to offer opportunities for professional development, leadership and service in order to advance the quality of art education.


It always baffled my mind that people call this the "dead" of winter, implying that nothing is happening. Implying that neither light nor warmth exists, and that any hope we have of joy or excitement will have to wait until some little rodent decides he no longer sees his shadow and winter will come to a sudden halt. Being a summer person myself, I can understand why winter is always referred to as the "dead" season. However, after seeing the last several events we have offered to our members, my heart is filled with warmth and light during our darkest time. These events really bring to light the power of art education, and the strength of teachers’ professional practice. This fall we started out with a bang, celebrating one of the most interesting conferences I have been to in some time. The theme was SCRAPS (See, Create, Reuse, and Problem Solve). Listening to the musings of artist Tom Deininger, and enjoying the glorious campus of our most gracious hosts at Salve University, one could not help but be inspired. The artists and art educators we had the pleasure of learning from added a sense of pride and joy to our everyday practices. Conferences like this help us understand and appreciate what we have to work with in our classrooms. By showing our students how to reuse and repurpose commonly discarded items, we dive into a whole new realm of art making. During the conference, we began collecting funds for one unfortunate New Jersey School who lost their entire classroom to hurricane Sandy. The RIAEA matched the funds and donated $500 to St. Rose high school's art department.

The art room in St. Rose School, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area.


Art educators like Linda Devlin from St. Rose have used the devastating events of Hurricane Sandy to bring to light the importance of schools as being a safe-place for students to learn. She is a true leader in art advocacy, and has gone forward with pushing the importance of art education to the media, essentially using the media outlet to rebuild her program from the ground up. For information about powerful educators like Linda, please see our article about RIAEA Art Educator Awards in this issue, where we highlight details about RI’s best in art education. These educators have gone far above and beyond in their commitment and professionalism.

As we all eventually go through a terrible event in our lives, we sometimes forget that visual arts can serve as a therapeutic sanctuary. The events of Hurricane Sandy where temporarily overshadowed by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. As educators and parents, we are quickly reminded the importance and fragility of life. Our heart bleeds for the families, teachers, staff and rescue workers involved with this terrible event. We all asked ourselves, “What can we do to help?” Unfortunately with situations like this, what is needed is time. Time to heal, time to reflect, time to celebrate the beauty and preciousness of life, time to mourn the lives that were so quickly taken from us far too soon. The RIAEA struggled with what to do, feeling, like everyone, that we needed to do something, and the desire to act quickly. The RIAEA sent funds to Drawn Together, an organization that connects with local organizations to help utilize art therapy and supplies for children and families who have experienced traumatic events. While the healing process will take time, we send our deepest sympathy and blessings to the survivors and families of Newtown.

Sometimes when we are surrounded by sad news we forget the more joyous events surrounding us. Scholastic Art and Writing Awards provide us with the opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness, intelligence, and talents of our young artists and writers. As an elementary art educator, I am always amazed by the work I see at Scholastics. The speakers during the ceremony are encouraging to the young artists, as is the faculty and staff at Salve Regina (our “Friend of the RIAEA Award Winner”), who hosted the event as well. A new addition this year is the display of the portfolio winners’ work at Gallerie Ellipsis in Newport. Ellipsis is also allowing the students to sell their work, giving many of them their first opportunity as a professional artist. Rhode Island Scholastics Director, Tricia Barry, is sadly stepping down from her position, this year being her last. Tricia’s commitment to our program is unprecedented, as is her professionalism, determination and organization. She will be missed, and we wish her luck with her endeavors in the future. I will be announcing our new Director shortly.

As Scholastics can be used as an art education advocacy tool, so can Youth Art Month. March is National Youth Art Month! In celebration of YAM, the RIAEA is going to be offering mini grants for elementary art educators (application coming soon). These grants are being offered and matched through a partnership with Jerry’s Art-A-Rama in Providence. Jerry’s is an advocate for quality art programs in schools, and has committed to helping the RIAEA provide it’s elementary members


with supplies that some desperately need. The Wickford Art Association is also a model of art education advocacy, as they are again offering their Scholarship Fund to 3 very talented and deserving senior high school students. This mailing will be out shortly as well, and we will be coinciding the Awards Ceremony with Youth Art Month this March. If you haven’t registered for a YAM exhibit yet, please know that doing so is crucial to educating our states officials and decisionmakers that when you start with art, you learn for life! Art is the heart of the Core! Visit for more details about how you can get your district, and your superintendent, involved with art advocacy.

So as I finish writing what will be my plea to you, dear art educators, to see all things warm and bright even when they are not, I remind you to enjoy your art, your students, your family and friends. Bask in the warmth of contentment at knowing that you are a greater influence than you realize to the minds of our youth. May you be blessed in your life and your professional practice, remembering that “People don’t know whether it’s winter or summer when they are happy” -Anton Chekhov.


RIAEA Awards John C. Chamberlin Lifetime Achievement Award  John C. Chamberlin is an Associate Professor, currently Acting Head Rhode Island School of  Design of Department, Teaching + Learning in Art + Design. Working with future art +  design teachers for the past twenty‐five years he has emphasized queer issues in his  teaching.  He was co‐chair of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Issues Task Force of the  National Art Education Association.  He is currently on the board of director for CityArts, Providence.  John is also an  accomplished ceramic tile maker.  He has created and installed custom ceramic tiles in  kitchens, bathrooms, and on fireplaces for clients in Rhode Island.  For many years, John  created plaques for annual RIAEA Awards.    John is a Past–President of the RIAEA and has held several other board positions over the  past 20 years.  His service not only to RIAEA but his example of human kindness and  passion for art has impacted a generation of young art educators.  Congratulations to John  and Thanks for your years of service to RIAEA and for your contributions to art education in  RI and the NAEA.  


Mary McMurtery Providence Public Schools Birch Vocational School Mary teaches at the Birch Vocational School, which is within Mt Pleasant High School. She has always stood out as an exceptional teacher for her passion for teaching and her dedication to her students, especially those with special needs. For the last 10 years while she has taught at a vocational school for adolescents and young adults, she has initiated numerous new programs for her students and has had a significant statewide role in advocating for all special needs students. By focusing on what the students can do, rather than what they cannot, Mary develops an attitude that results in the students developing high expectations for themselves. She is very involved in the school culture by helping students create their own yearbooks, organizing dramatic productions and makes sure student’s artwork is showcased throughout the school. Mary has held positions on the Executive Board of RIAEA as Art Teacher’s Exhibit Chair, RI Scholastic Art Awards Chair, Vice President and President of RIAEA. She is Nationally Board Certified. Mary continues to be a tireless spokesperson and advocate for special needs children and young adults. Her energy, determination, and great sense of humor are an inspiration to all who are fortunate to work with her.


Elementary Art Educator of the Year Kim Challenges her students to achieve the highest standards in visual arts education. She is a natural leader, and truly dedicated and outstanding visual art educator. There are many ways that Kim distinguishes herself as an exemplary visual arts educator. She has built a wonderful variety of rich art content strengths and important art education perspectives into her teaching. Students are inspired by her creative, inspiring art teaching, collaborations and passionate commitment to the field of art education. Kim Challenges her students to achieve the highest standards in visual arts education. She is a natural leader, truly dedicated and outstanding visual art educator.

Kim is not only involved in art education but is a vital part of the RI art community. She brings people together to do great things. At her school, she has mustered the support of parents and administration by bringing grant money into the art program and using community artists to support the work of her students. With her colleagues in art education throughout the state, she has brought a level of social responsibility to the table, encouraging people to participate in fundraising events that better the lives of our children with major health issues. Most importantly with her students, she sets an example of respect and goodness. The love her students have for art and creativity is not something that just happens; it is learned with the example of a great teacher.


Barbara is a teacher devoted to creating lasting joy for her students. For Barbara, the finished product is not perfected technique, or a series of work a student can be proud of, it is the student themselves. She is a consummate professional and is tireless in her energy and commitment to providing the students she teaches with quality arts learning experiences. Barbara has long recognized the importance of advocacy as a powerful strategy with which to promote art as a core subject in her high school students’ education. Her innovative Legacy Project, in which seniors produce work that is left at the school as the legacy of their time at West, inspires students to follow in their path. As an advocate for her students, she has been opening doors for her students to the best colleges, universities and art school. Her infectious joy and tenacious spirit set Barbara apart. Not only does she make all things seem possible, she shows you how to make them happen. For students who often limit themselves to the worlds they create on the paper in front of them, there is no greater gift.



Barbara Voccola, Visual Arts Educator at Cranston West, was bestowed the honor of "2012 Secondary Art Educator of the Year" Award in a ceremony at the Wickford Art Association on Friday October 19, 2012. A good array of current and former students were present to share in this recognition with her. Above are four former West graduates and Barbara Voccola. She is also a West graduate. They are from Left to right: Jordan Walker (2012), Sarah Pollard (2009) Barbara Voccola, Visual Arts Educator and class of 1982, Erika Ferrandi (2001) and Sarah Carr (class of 2004). Jordan Walker and Sarah Pollard are enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design's undergraduate program. Sarah will be graduating this year and Jordan has just entered his freshman year. Erika Ferrandi is a lawyer and Sarah Carr is a Screenwriter and Art Historian.

From Left to Right: Kelly Thies, Olivia Braga, Farzana Zubair, Barbara Voccola, Maria Zapasnik, Meika Matook, Alex Pizzuti, Jordan Walker Barbara Voccola, Visual Arts Educator at Cranston West, receives the honor of "2012 Secondary Art Educator of the Year" sponsored by the Rhode Island Art Education Association, and was honored on Friday October 19, 2012 at the Wickford Art Association. Appearing in the photo are some of her students from West and Jordan Walker a recent graduate, who is currently a freshman at Rhode Island School of Design.



2013-14 RIAEA Outstanding Art Educator Awards Are you proud of your school’s Visual Art Department? The Rhode Island Art Education Association is a professional organization whose mission is to promote quality art education in RI by providing leadership, advocacy, a format for communication and opportunities for professional development. Our annual Art Educator Award Program recognizes outstanding art teachers who have made significant contributions to art education programs within their school, community, or professional organization. The Rhode Island Art Education Association cordially invites you to send in nominations recognizing Outstanding Art Educators in your district. Applications are now available for the 201314 RI Art Educator of the Year in Elementary, Middle, Special needs and High School levels. Deadline April 30th!


This years special guests at the ceremony held on Sunday, January 27 were Joe Pari from Ten31 Productions, as well as, Sister Jane Garety from Salve Regina and Stephanie Mattera from Alex and Ani. Thank you to Savle Regina University, The Hamilton Gallery and the faculty and staff of the art department for the continuous sponsorship of The Awards - Jay Lacouture, Ernie Jolicour, Gerry Perrino, and Gianna Sullivan. Another thank you for a very special addition to this year’s exhibition goes to Christine Manory at (gallerie ellipsis) in Newport who offered her space to display all the portfolio pieces. This is the first time in a very long time that the majority of the portfolio has been on display. This all couldn’t be possible without the help from all the volunteers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, especially Christine Mullen with gallery set up and Mary McMurtery getting the judges.

Tricia B., Nancy B., Mia T. Four of the Scholastics Gallery hanging crew: Hope C., Nancy B., Diana B., Jill A.


Hamilton Gallery Salve Regina University

Special Awards Senator Reed Best of Show Citation

Caroline Dunn-Packer, St. George's School, Photography Catherine Streich, East Greenwich High School, Digital Art Isabel Archibald, Tiverton High School, Printmaking Gabriel Bielawski, Cranston High School East, Mixed Media Anthony Anderson, LaSalle Academy, Fashion Duan Xianoyang, Rocky Hill School, Painting Brendan Lada, Rocky Hill School, Ceramics & Glass

Governor Chafee Best of Show Citation for Portfolios Haley Moen, Nancy Stephen Gallery and School of Art, Art Portfolio Samantha Campanatico, School One, Photography Portfolio


Gallerie ellipsis

Here is a link to the RIAEA website and a complete list of Scholastic Award winners:


Early Childhood News‐Mary Geisser This year is starting out to be an exciting year for Early Childhood education, especially in  the arts.  I was thrilled to discover that NAEA’s 2013 Lowenfeld award winner is Christine  Marmé Thompson, Ph.D. Professor of Art Education from Penn State University.  Christine’s  work has focused on young children and the arts and she has several wonderful  publications including “The Visual Arts and Early Childhood Learning” a wonderful  anthology that focus on art and young children, published by NAEA.  Some other highlights  include, “The Arts in Children’s lives” and “When we were Young: New Perspectives on the  art of the child.  In her writings and practice, Christine’s depth of understanding and respect  for the work and learning of young children is exemplary.  I have had the privilege of meeting with Christine at several different conferences: NAEA,  The National Association for Young Children, and the Art and Early Childhood Conference.   Her research and writings have demonstrated the importance of young children and the  multiple ways in which art impacts them.  She is also a wonderful human being.   Congratulations Christine!  If you are attending the Convention in March, be sure to make  her Lowenfeld Lecture on Friday from 1:00PM ‐ 1:50PM.  It will be time well spent.  The  Lowenfeld Lecture will be available on the NAEA homepage after the convention.  You can  also read more about her in this interview on Penn State’s website:‐award‐has‐special‐meaning‐art‐ education‐professor  I also wanted to share a series of free professional development workshops happening at  Lesley University, in Cambridge, MA, this spring called the Innovations Series.  All of the  workshops are free and open to the public.  This is our second annual series and they  include some inspirational speakers including Nancy Carlson Paige, Ben Mardell, Lisa Fiore  and more.  On April 8th Ben Mardell will be sharing work that he did with young children in  good ol', Providence, RI!  Hope to see you there.   Mary Geisser  To learn more about the talks check out the website at:‐ school‐of‐education/events/  The upcoming workshops include:  February 26 Infusing Inquiry into Prescribed Curriculum March 21 

Transformational Anti‐Bias Practices

April 8 

Children as Citizens


Elementary, Middle, & High School Roundtable: Figure Drawing Do you want to refresh yourself and get back to drawing the figure from life? This All Level Roundtable will help reacquaint you with drawing the human form. It will begin with several short gesture drawings and then finish with some longer poses. Bring your own paper and supplies and join us on Thursday, February 28, 2013, 6:00 to 9:00pm, The Mill at Shady Lea Studio 205. This roundtable is for Elementary School, Middle School and High School Educators. Please come to rejuvenate yourself and enjoy the complimentary refreshments! Limit of 20 people Registration below RIAEA members $5 model fee. $20.00 fee for non-members. Payment to be paid at the door. For more information contact: Christine Lonergan-Elementary Art Representative Debbie Engel-Middle School Representative Susanne Suprock-High School Representative




"I of the Tiger" A Self Discovery Experience to Encourage You to Step Into Your Power. Come and meet author Wendy Rappaport and learn how her new book "I of the Tiger" will encourage all to connect with your inner strength and power through hands on activities such as art making, expressive movement, creative writing, and story telling. Chocolate and Wendy's playbook will be available. Date: March 12,2013 Time: 4-6 pm Where: Chariho Middle School Fee: None To register for the class please e-mail Debbie Engel<> or call 401-3152191

Introducing a new concept in Arts Education programming in Rhode Island.... The Mobile Arts Classroom is a 33-ft custom trailer equipped with all the comforts of an art studio. We offer children, adult, and senior classes in many mediums such as ceramics and painting. We specialize in parties, after-school programs, and special events. Please visit our website www.mobileartsclassroom<http://www.mobileartsclassroom> or call 401-7422759 to find out how the Mobile Arts classroom can visit your school or special event




Photo credit: Eric Sheridan, RI Art Archive Project Peter Geisser Eastern Region Vice President-Elect of NAEA RIAEA’s own Peter Geisser has been elected Eastern Region Vice President-Elect of NAEA. Linda Popp of Maryland, current Eastern VP will step down in March 2014 and Peter will take the VP office from 2014-16. There are four NAEA Regional Vice Presidents, who represent their region on the NAEA Board, write a column for their region in the NAEANews, and coordinate the NAEA Delegates Assembly at the NAEA Conventions. The Eastern VP heads “Team East” which includes, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Overseas APO. Peter has served on the RIAEA Board since 1995 and has presented at numerous NAEA Conventions on Special Needs topics. He was a founder of the Special Needs Issues Group SNAE, and established the national Special Needs Art Educator of the Year Award, which was named for him when he stepped down as SNAE President in 2011. Last year he was awarded the NAEA Marion Dix Leadership Award. Peter retired as the art teacher of the RI School for the Deaf and works in stained glass, mosaics, and teaches part time in the Art Ed program of U Mass Dartmouth. This spring the RI Art Archive Project will premiere a film featuring Geisser’s work. For more information go to:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Christina Miles, RISD Project Open Door Associate Director,, 401.277.4826 Jennifer Hercman, RISD Project Open Door Angell Fellow,, 401.277.4826 Project Open Door Exhibition of High School Student Work In Collaboration with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Atrium Gallery @ One Capitol Hill, Providence, R.I. 02908 February 11 – March 15, 2013 Providence, January 18, 2013 – RISD Project Open Door has curated an exhibition at the Atrium Gallery at One Capitol Hill of artwork created by high school students. Project Open Door, a public engagement initiative of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), now in its 9th year, is committed to providing talented teens attending public high schools and charter high schools in Rhode Island’s urban core cities of Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket with access to free programming both at their schools and on RISD’s campus. Project Open Door was established as a portfolio-based access program designed to advance urban teens’ artistic practice and to provide a network of support leading to competitive applications for college and university. Teens are encouraged to view themselves as artists; so making their work public through exhibitions such as this provides the teens with an important opportunity to share what they create with the community at large. The teens exhibiting in this show have taken up the challenge to develop their creative practice - for some this has meant dedicating time at the end of a school day, while for others, it has meant a commitment to attending a Portfolio studio at RISD on Saturday mornings. “Project Open Door is extremely appreciative to have been invited by Elena Calderon-Patino, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts’ Director of Community Arts Programs, to exhibit in the Atrium Gallery as part of the RISCA’s New Visions / New Curator Series,” said Paul Sproll, Project Open Door’s Director. “We are extraordinarily proud of our teens’ achievements and it is my sincere hope that visitors too will applaud their success as young Rhode Island artists.” Exhibition of High School Student Work at The Atrium Gallery at One Capitol Hill. Opening Reception From 5:30pm- 7:30pm, Thursday, February 21, 2013. ABOUT RISD Project Open Door Project Open Door (POD) is a community arts program supported by the Rhode Island School of Design. It draws creative urban teens from under-resourced public schools from across the state. Students participate in art classes and build a portfolio of work to prepare for college. Please check out our website to learn more about our program. ABOUT Atrium at One Capitol Hill The Atrium Gallery at One Capitol Hill was developed to exhibit the artwork of Rhode Island Artists in the State Capitol Complex. Exhibits are hosted on a rotating basis, in partnership with community artists and art organizations from across the state. These partnerships will showcase the art and the artists of these diverse communities. ABOUT New Visions/New Curator Series The Atrium at One Capitol Hill is encouraging the development of new curators and gallery directors from communities of color with the 2013 New Visions/New Curator Series which provides mentorship and opportunities to curate several exhibits in this year’s season. For images of featured work please email


the studio practice model creates innovators

‐Dr. John Maeda  President, RISD, &   MIT graduate.   

STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math STEAM is STEM with the Arts integrated into it to maximize the creative process. STEM began November 23, 2009 when President Obama launched “Educate to Innovate” campaign. This was a nationwide effort to help American students move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement. The objective is to have this accomplished over the next decade. STEMtoSTEAM is an initiative championed by the Rhode Island School of Design. The president of RISD, Dr. John Maeda is an MIT graduate and sees the connection between the STEM fields and how Art is a vitally important component to problem solving in design. On Saturday, March 2, 2013, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Joseph L. McCourt Middle School is hosting a STEMtoSTEAM conference for 20 middle school students from McCourt and 20 students from North Cumberland Middle School. Students from the middle schools of Cumberland Public School in grades 6, 7, and 8 have been asked to apply for this STEMtoSTEAM conference. It is comprised of two different hands-on workshops that demonstrate the creative arts side of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Workshops will be presented by a variety of instructors from regional companies and businesses and higher education, with assistance by university students and STEM graduates. Some of the participating institutions that will be presenting are the Rhode Island School of Design and the Museum of Art, the United States Military Academy at West Point, Second Stage Studio, and other engineer volunteers in the state. Our plan is to make this a model for any school to use to incorporate STEMtoSTEAM. For more information, visit the following website: or email, -Submitted by Carolyn M. Dooley Art Educator Joseph L. McCourt Middle School Cumberland, RI


SCRAPS Conference Recap  On November 3rd, 2012 more than one 100 RI Visual Arts Educators descended upon Salve Regina University in beautiful Newport by the Sea for RIAEA’s State Visual Art Educators conference SCRAPS. Keynote speaker Tom Deininger gave an exceptional presentation and wowed us with his Art created from Trash. If you haven’t visited his website you are missing out. Many of the SCRAPS presenters shared their presentations with us and we uploaded them on to the conference website which is available at this link. Our workshops were all based on the theme of creating with scraps. There was bookmaking, Technology, Sculpture, AP studio information, bookmaking and Art History presentations, Just to name a few. All in all there were 21 workshops! There were assorted Vendors and Artisans and a longer lunch than usual, which allowed for plenty of networking. Our surveys are in and the feedback revealed that RIAEA’s State Conference “SCRAPS” was a success! Some of the comments from participants from our “How did we do Survey” were quite encouraging to read. “ Excellent workshops” “Tom Deininger was awesome” “ I enjoyed making the decorated bag in the morning” “Thanks for a Great day” “ Lots of goodies at this conference and great workshops” “Loved Salve for this” I’d like to thank Salve Regina University for allowing us to use their fabulous facility for the SCRAPS Conference, all the volunteers who helped organize and set up, and especially Tom Deininger for inspiring our creative juices! Submitted by: Susanne Suprock,


Shannon Puerini: MHS’s “Golden” Artist

Shannon Puerini (’13) is grateful for advisory period. “A good advisory period for me is not spent catching up on school work, but staying in the art room,” the artist reports. That her AP Studio Art class meets during the period before advisory is a happy coincidence. “I find it very hard to pull myself away from whatever I’m drawing, and advisory allows me to continue working.” In the confines of Mrs. Susanne Suprock’s art room, Shannon sits undisturbed, and—generally—alone. “Since Mrs. Suprock doesn’t have an advisory, I have the whole room to myself,” she cheerfully reports. It is undeniable that Shannon values solitude, which is as much a reflection of the artistic nature of her pastimes as it is a fundamental aspect of her character. Although she loves hosting parties and get-togethers with friends, Shannon describes herself as “inclusive,” citing the fact that she spends the majority of her free time, especially during the winter months, by herself. “I can never spend less than a couple hours doing art,” she explains, “it’s like I get sucked into my own little world and nothing else matters.” Shannon maintains a calm, even temperament that at least partially explains why, despite her state and national artistic recognition, she assumes a generally low profile at MHS. “Shannon is quiet, but she gets an incredible amount of work done,” commented classmate and fellow artist Sage Salvo (’13). But Shannon is not so much reserved and reticent as she is ruminative and reflective. “I get my inspiration from what I see around me,” she discloses. Her portfolio of artwork, which encompasses a wide range of mediums and techniques—from drawings to paintings to digital imagery—also straddles the stylistic and thematic worlds of reality and unreality, idealism and disillusionment, romanticism and surrealism. The artistic diversity of Shannon’s work is obvious, even to the lay-viewer. With equal skill, Shannon captures both the tortured face of the starving child and the vivid beauty of the setting sun (see below for featured pieces from Shannon’s portfolio). Shannon’s incredible artistic range is a reflection of her diverse artistic influences—as she terms


them, her “constantly changing sources of inspiration.” Shannon ranks artists as diverse as Claude Monet, Maxfield Parrish, Albert Bierstadt, and Charmaine Olivia among her favorites, indicative of her own stylistic eclecticism. Shannon’s work most obviously resembles that of Bierstadt, known for his sprawling, hyperrealistic Western landscapes, and that of Olivia, a contemporary artist celebrated for her intimate, vividly colorful, and symbolic portraits. Shannon reconciles Bierstadt’s romantic appreciation for aesthetic with Olivia’s surrealist overflow of emotion. She comments, “I want to make the viewer feel something when they look at my work whether it be empathy, joy, or amazement.” Shannon’s stylistic achievements are compounded by her ability to wield various different artistic media, including paint, pencil, ink, graphite, watercolor, and charcoal. When drawing, Shannon’s preferred medium is charcoal, which, she says, “gives you wonderful contrast.” For painting, Shannon loves using oil on account of the wonderfully “vibrant colors” and enjoys the challenge of watercolor, which she describes as “the most personally difficult medium.” Though Shannon might seem a natural virtuoso, she credits her achievements to “great mentors” without whom she “probably wouldn’t be the aspiring artist” she is today. Among Shannon’s mentors are her mother, a local painter, and MHS art teacher Mrs. Suprock. Of her mother, Shannon recounts, “I remember sitting down next to her easel and watching her paint and feeling awed.” Shannon credits her mother with supporting her throughout her artistic career: “She has been the biggest supporter with my art for my entire life.” Shannon also reserves much praise for Mrs. Suprock, with whom she has collaborated with for all four years at MHS. “Mrs. Suprock has taught me many valuable things, and I've always been able to stay after school with her whenever I wanted,” Shannon reports. Mrs. Suprock has also supported Shannon by entering her artwork into shows and competitions. Shannon recently won four Gold Key Awards for the portfolio she submitted to an annual statewide artistic competition sponsored by the Rhode Island chapter of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Gold Key is the highest level of achievement on the regional level. One of her Gold Key pieces, titled “Lights,” landed a nomination for the American Vision Award, the highest national honor awarded to young artists. “It’s a tremendous honor,” says Mrs. Suprock. Past recipients of the American Vision award include Andy Warhol, Richard Avedon, and Truman Capote. Mrs. Suprock describes Shannon as “an outstanding artist with a bright future,” citing both her personal and artistic accomplishments. “She’s not only talented; she’s also incredibly kind and compassionate.” For her Capstone project, Shannon organized an art exhibit that featured the work of other Middletown artists, including students John O’Hanley (’13), Angie Phrasavath (’13), Jessica Barnes (’13), MHS art teacher Ms. Bissell, and Shannon’s mother painter Filomena Puerini. The art show, which featured more than 40 pieces, was held for a week at the Middletown Public Library in November. “Shannon and her family are so very talented. I thought like I was looking through a window into another world,” commented Sage Salvo, a classmate who attended the art show. Although Shannon’s artwork has been featured in various exhibits, organizing her own art show proved an entirely new experience that cemented her plans to pursue a career as an artist after graduation. “I look forward to the time when I’ll have my own studio with tons of art supplies and I won’t have to keep my artwork stuffed in my room anymore,” says Shannon.


After graduation, Shannon hopes to attend art school. “I’m applying to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and a few other art schools,” explains Shannon. “There are many parts to the RISD application, with two required graphite drawings that must be folded and mailed. The folding is what kills you,” she adds. Like the typical college essay, the required drawings are meant to showcase the applicant’s creativity and their ability to respond to a standardized, sometimes quirky, prompt. “They ask applicants to draw a bike,” says Shannon. Applicants are required to complete RISD’s infamous twodrawing “hometest,” one of which involves the trademark RISD bicycle drawing. She hopes that her unique depiction of the bike will stand out among the thousands of other applications. “I enjoy playing with perspective,” Shannon comments, “and I’m glad that the RISD prompt allowed me to do that.” The application also includes a standard application and an online portfolio submission. Shannon expects an admission decision by March 15. Of Shannon, Mrs. Suprock anticipates nothing but great promise. “I expect to hear great things about her in the future. I think she’ll make it.” We at MHS wish her all the best.

By Gunnar Rice


RIAEA Winter 2013  
RIAEA Winter 2013  

Rhode Island Art Education Association Newsletter Winter 2013