What inspires you? It’s a question that’s often posed to students at Williston, but it’s just as important for faculty as they navigate planning coursework and lessons for each academic year. This past winter, three members of the Visual Arts Department got a dose of inspiration on a professional development trip to Art Basel, one of the world’s premier arts events, in Miami Beach, Florida.
“In our discipline, it’s important not to be stagnant,” says Visual Arts Teacher Wendy Staples, who first broached the idea of taking the trip with her colleagues. “We don’t want to teach the same things. To inspire our kids, we have to be fresh and excited about what we are doing on our own and bring that to the classroom.”
Department Head Natania Hume and Visual Arts Teacher Ed Hing ’77 also went on the trip to Florida with Staples. Together, the three teach visual arts, AP Studio, and Williston Scholars classes and actively collaborate on other art projects. “It’s super exciting to look at more contemporary art and see what’s going on in the art world right now,” says Hume. “It’s nice to have your finger on the pulse, or at least see where the pulse is as opposed to just virtually trying to keep up with stuff.”
Hume notes one of the highlights for the trio was when they started looking for one piece of art that “matched” with what each specific student in AP Studio was currently working on. By the end of the trip, they collected a piece of art to show each student and inspire them to take their work further.
Williston faculty members have over 30 different professional development funds to draw from for trips like Art Basel. For the administration, opening access to these funds is critical for the overall health of the school.
“There’s value in individual learning for our adult community, and there is even more, in my opinion, value in sending multiple folks to learn in the same space,” says Dean of Faculty Corie Fogg ’99. “It’s fertile ground for returning to campus with new ideas to employ and serve the needs of our students well.”