Artist Connect: Susan Peterson

In an effort to connect our communities and networks with our teaching artists, we are beginning a new blog series called "Artist Connect". Each week, we will feature one of our artists on our roster and dive deeper into their art form and history with Young Audiences. 

Susan Peterson just recently completed a semester long residency at Longfellow Elementary School. During the 18 week residency, Susan worked with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms for a total of 72 creative sessions. Students were given a theme of "Ocean" and were able to have their creativity take over. The result is a beautiful mural, installed at the school for future generations. Read below to find out more about Susan Peterson and her passion for arts education.

 Susan Peterson has taught ceramics, papermaking, bookbinding, printmaking, mask making, and sculpture. In addition to teaching, she creates and exhibits her works of sculpture, much of which has been inspired by her travels to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Susan Peterson has taught ceramics, papermaking, bookbinding, printmaking, mask making, and sculpture. In addition to teaching, she creates and exhibits her works of sculpture, much of which has been inspired by her travels to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Getting to know...Susan Peterson

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

I have been a ceramic sculptor for many years. My imagery was animals and made commentary on environmental issues. I incorporated found objects into the pieces. These days I am making collages from magazines with imagery of flowers, rose windows, and mandalas.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you have brought to students with Young Audiences?

All the tile murals have been my most memorable. They create such a strong validation of the children’s artwork, and look fantastic.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

We talk about all things in the world that are made of clay – from the tiles in your kitchen or bath, to the dishes you eat on to the bricks that buildings are made of.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

Many children suffer trauma. A recent study by a pediatric doctor revealed that 67% of Americans have experienced trauma. Art heals. Art is like vitamins, it feeds you.  Also, there are many different ways we learn. Art making is one way that we can absorb knowledge. Some students do not enjoy school, but love art class. We can sneak lessons of math, science, etc into art class. Making a lesson visual can make it more exciting. I love what I do because it brings such joy to so many. I also like the quote “Science makes life easier, Art makes it worthwhile”.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Ceramics has connections to both the visual arts and science. We do this through connections  to particular subject matter that the children are studying, such as animals, oceans, and health. Most recently, I used the current volcanic action on the Big Island of Hawaii and the lava flow to make a parallel to the process ceramic glazes go through to transform from dry chalky paints to a rich, glossy finish.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Susan Peterson for providing these responses. Learn more about her here!

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