Art teacher group
Three art teachers

Lab Teaching Artists

Artist as Teacher


Coloring Outside the Lines

Why the Visual and Performing Arts are “on fire” at Lab

When some parents hear their children talk about following their creative passions, doing what they love, and believing that the rest will follow … the job, the money, the stability, the success, they panic. They imagine drafty garrets, empty refrigerators, piles of unpaid bills…. But as it turns out, some of the most innovative, uniquely successful — and happy — people in the world do just that; they fly toward their strengths, choosing love over fear, and spending the majority of their time and efforts doing what they are good at, what drives them, and, from that, creating an enviable career and life. And employers are recognizing that art majors are good problem solvers for many different industries. 

The 15 teachers in Lab’s Visual and Performing Arts departments — most of them working artists and successful businesspeople outside of Lab — are examples of these enviable people who love what they do, year after year, growing as artists, teachers, and humans. Some of them came to Lab with the primary purpose of sharing with young learners their talents, experiences, and passions as artists. Others came to Lab to fill in as a temporary substitute or summer camp instructor, got hooked, and stayed. Either path, they didn’t push their art aside, they simply rejiggered their life to be both artist and teacher, never one without the other, one drawing great strength and deep creativity from the other. 

What follows are voices from our amazing teachers on how their art informs their teaching, why going to an art college can be the best career launch pad for some students, what neuroscience says about arts and the brain, and why Head of School Katherine Schantz says, “This year, especially, our Arts department across all subjects and divisions is on fire!” 


“Born with a weakness in my left eye and having had Scarlet Fever at 10-months old caused my ‘lazy eye’ to offer me many years of visual therapy and two eye surgeries. With all the focus on vision and lots of support from my artistic mother, I started thinking of myself as an artist from a very young age. Doing art has been my strength and my ‘flow state’ all my life. All of these opportunities have formed in me a strong arts-integrated way of viewing the world. Through improvising and collaborating with others and in other disciplines, we can appreciate the art and aesthetic connections all around us. I truly hope to be able to inspire this connection-making in all my students. Learning thorough the arts creates an entry to learning for many people. The arts are about ourselves and can make learning in other disciplines accessible.”

- Art Teacher, Artist, and Puppet-Maker Azure Lea


“My own practice of art absolutely informs my teaching. When I teach about the creative process, I speak from experience. My number one goal in all of my teaching at Lab is for my students to understand that while there is a mystical element in creativity, the process of art making is exactly that — a process, a set of steps to be approached with respect and patience, and also with confidence and daring. I want my students to develop an understanding — while they are at Lab — of the solace and lifelong joy that art-making and art-looking can bring. I also want them to know art as an endless and reliable road to deeper understanding of themselves and of others in their families and communities, and the wider world.”

- Visual Art, Language Arts, and Club Discovery Teacher, Singer-Songwriter, Band Leader, and Visual Artist Mary Battiata


“Performing artists have to think less about a physical portfolio, but it is never too early to start learning and preparing for the college audition process. Being prepared and confident is at least half the battle! I think that learning how to work in an ensemble is so important for our students — and everyone! Being able to collaborate, compromise, communicate, and problem-solve are important skills in every avenue of life and these are all skills that are honed in the performing arts.”

- Elementary Performing Arts Teacher, Actor, Singer and Musical Performer Sally Kiernan