Mastering the art of collaboration: Northgate teachers undertake master’s program

A few art teachers from Northgate High School became students again.

An exhibition of their collaborative artwork is currently on display in the Françoise Gilot Gallery at the Nixon Center for the Performing and Visual Arts. Titled “In the Third Person,” the exhibition is the culmination of more than a year’s work – with most of the creation taking place during the spring semester.

But it’s not just provocative and beautiful work. It is also a research project that helped earn the few degrees from the Kennesaw State University Master of Art and Design program.

The program is part of an emerging trend of coursework moving away from traditional classroom lectures in college and to individually tailored education – something that the sharpened technology of teaching in the time of COVID-19 uniquely prepared them to embrace.

“If we had done our masters at any other time in history, we would never have learned so much to bring technology to our classrooms,” Horne said. “I have a friend who has her master’s degree, which she received in 2002, and the technology class used transparency at the time. So I’m glad we did it now, because we’ll never know all this cool stuff. ”

Some of the “cool stuff” available through the KSU program for Horne and Teets was the choice to replace the usual master’s thesis with a year’s artwork and an account of their processes, thoughts and emotional growth and how that what they have learned, can be incorporated into their own classrooms.

“I’ve never seen (a program) where you can actually do a project or a thesis, so we were like, ‘We’re in!'” Teets said.

But it was not easy to pave new routes as longtime teachers. The days were long during the school year, when hours of bookwork, studio sessions and time were spent in each other’s classrooms at Northgate – together in the most literal sense of the word.

The plan was to literally make canvases pass back and forth, each adding elements of their own unique art styles. Circles and lines, natural elements, colors and textures added by the artists as they took turns formed themselves into what Horne and Teets think of another artist’s abstract work.

The first official piece for their project, “Rooted,” was painted as three women: Horne, Teets and the Mysterious Artist, which is the inspiration for the name of the exhibition.

“She symbolizes a combination of our styles, perspectives and worldviews,” according to the exhibition’s artist statement.

The exhibition is unabashedly feminine, with women depicted in paintings, multimedia pieces and sculpture. It is a reflection of the different facets of the women who created the artwork, of their fears and setbacks and victories. Individual artwork highlighting the influences of the other partner, each artist also flanks the collaborative work.

Nixon Center staff hung up the show for the artists in early June and also hosted a June 23 reception. The exhibition will be open until August 1 – and closes just in time for the Custom Masters to return to the classroom.

Horne and Teets, both veteran classroom teachers and skilled practicing artists, say they will return not only equipped with new skills, but also with a changed outlook. Especially after they had to answer the question of why they choose to teach.

“We feel it’s really going to affect our teaching,” Horne said. “For me, I was really closing down and I felt that I was starting to hate teaching. But jumping into (the master program) really brought me back to life. ”

Teets said putting herself in her students’ place changed her perspective.

“We currently have a lot more empathy for our students,” she said. “We feel we are likely to invite more opportunities for collaboration in our classrooms.”

A message from the “In the Third Person” artists:

The art (in our exhibit) is the result of a research project conducted between January and April 2022 for Kennesaw State University as part of our Master’s degree in Arts and Design program.

We wanted to know what would happen when two art teachers with different education, worldviews, personalities and artistic styles work together to create an assignment. How would they

individual studio practices? How would this affect their teaching? Furthermore, how would it feel to relinquish total control and ownership of a work of art while the process is typically a highly independent endeavor?

With the exception of the sculptures and individual works, all the pieces on display were created by sending them back and forth. The artist in possession of the work at any given time had free power to add, edit or even delete what the other artist had previously done.

Through various criticisms and discussions, we have brought the pieces to their current conditions.

The participation in the collaboration not only yielded what we believe to be surprisingly creative and thought-provoking work, but also expanded our thinking about making and teaching art.

In addition, we experienced a bond that could only be fostered under these circumstances, because mutual trust and respect for each other’s creative preferences and perspectives were essential to the process. ‘

About the artists:

Jennifer Horne is an artist / teacher currently living in Historic Downtown Newnan with her husband Billy and two children, Mailey and William.

Originally from Alabama, Jenni moved to Georgia after marrying Billy in 1996. These southern roots grounded her and shaped her artwork to what it is today.

She can often be found in her home studio working on several pieces at the same time. Her process leads to the creation of paintings in a series, each series focusing on different topics. From landscapes to portraits, her work is full of color and thoughtful marks.

She is currently working on a series of female portraits using a mixed media technique. Horne says, “Influences have to come from the things that make me alive and excited to a certain extent. I seek balance within my work by applying a variety of materials and layers to each canvas. I love my painting process. exploring, experimenting and developing. Always a student who is ready to learn, my work is fascinating and exciting and refreshing for the viewer. ”

Horne attended Auburn University where she received a degree in Fine Arts, cum laude, Phi Kappa Phi in 1995. Her concentration was printing. Shortly after graduating, she returned to college and attended the University of West Georgia to obtain her teaching certification in Art Education.

Horne knew sharing her love of art through teaching was her calling. She has taught in both the public and private school settings over her 25-year career at all grade levels. She also taught painting workshops to adults across the United States.

She currently has an online teaching platform called Paint Something where students from around the world take her painting courses. Horne has taught at Northgate High School in Coweta County for the past seven years as the digital photography and painting instructor.

Erin Smith Teets is an artist and art instructor living and working in Newnan. Her typical work is characterized by a limited color palette and mix of both water-based and drawing media. The manipulation of the media is meant to evoke a sense of transience, mystery and the psychological layers of the mind.

Through symbolic use of imagery such as the crow or cicada, she seeks to make connections between the natural and spiritual worlds, as well as to continually investigate her own personal metamorphosis.

A desire to elevate both her studio and teaching practices led her to begin pursuing her master’s degree in the fall of 2021 at Kennesaw State University. Her experiences in the Master of Arts in Art and Design program have driven her not only to diversify her artistic repertoire, but also to expand her teaching ideologies.

Erin is happily married to her 21-year-old husband, Richard, and is the mother of a 12-year-old German shepherd, Ava. She was a native of Fayetteville and graduated from Fayette County High School in 1991 before enrolling at Georgia State University.

It was during the crucial years at Georgia State under the guidance of highly skilled and influential instructors where she not only honed her art skills but also became inspired to pursue art education.

After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education in 1997, she taught art at Pate’s Creek Elementary in Stockbridge for two years. After settling in Newnan with her husband, she taught at Madras Middle School for three years before transferring to Northgate High School.

NGHS has been her proud home away from home for the past 19 years. Her mission is to empower students through the creative process, and to instill in them the same sense of accomplishment and confidence that her former instructors did with her.

It is her sincere hope that they develop a lifelong love and appreciation for art, no matter what path they take in life.

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