Art class taken for fun leads to career
Stephanie Skeen never took one art class in high school, yet she is an art educator.
This is Ms. Skeen’s first year of teaching art. She taught first grade in Korea for three years.
“I loved Korea,” she said. “The people are so nice, everyone is family.”
She is glad to be back in the United States, though and teaching art in Rugby.
Her dad worked with the U.S. Government on counter attacks and counter narcotics. The job took him all over the world. He was always bringing art and artifacts home from his various trips. As a child, Skeen was surrounded by art work in her home.
“My parents filled our home with art work, so art has a big place in my family,”said Skeen.
When Skeen was six-years-old, her family moved to Rome, Italy.
“We’d go to art galleries and I would stand at one painting while the rest of my family wandered throughout the gallery,” said Skeen. “When they were done, I pointed out all the details I had seen in that first painting.”
She enjoyed doing art work in elementary school but when she got to high school, Skeen took band for all four years. She did not take one art class in high school. Her interests were elsewhere at the time.
When it came time to choosing a college, Skeen took a look at UND in Grand Forks because the financial package they offered to attract out-of-state students was too good to pass up. It was comparable to Virginia’s in-state tuition and her mother’s relatives lived in North Dakota, so she chose UND.
Skeen’s mother was a first grade teacher before she retired and opened a sewing store. Her dad is working for a farmer in his retirement. Both are doing something they enjoy.
“There are a lot of educators in our family,” said Skeen who comes by her career choice, naturally.
While at UND, Skeen’s mom suggested she take an art class just for fun. Little did she know that her daughter would take that suggestion and run with it. Skeen kept taking more art classes until one day one of her friends said, “Why don’t you major in art?”
She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2004 from UND. In 2008, she went back to school at Minnesota State University, Moorhead and in one year was able to get a bachelor of science degree in arts education from MSU-M. She hopes to get a masters degree in arts education when she can fit it into her schedule.
Her philosophy on art is that the program needs to be an all-encompassing one, not just art classes.
Skeen has over 100 students in junior and senior high in art classes in Rugby. Her classes cover art production, art history and art criticism. The students in one of her classes just finished painting on shoes.
When the students first come to class, Skeen has a piece of art work displayed and the students look at the art and answer a question she gives them about it.
As for Skeen, she enjoys fiber arts and metal smithing as favorite mediums of art. She likes to make jewelry and can take sheep wool and process it all the way through to a completed garment.
“I was always better in 3-dimensional,” said Skeen. “Drawing for me was not a natural gift, I had to work hard at it.”
She believes anyone can learn art. It just takes a lot of practice.
She will be teaching her students both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art this year.
Skeen is very excited about starting an Art Club at RHS, which is open to all students not just those currently in art classes. The first meeting is Monday, Nov. 28 right after school.
She hopes to have an art show in the spring to display the students’ works for the public to see. In the meantime, the students will display work at the high school winter concert.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page