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Talking to Anna Lacey, Vicksburg art teacher

Anna Lacey’s students hard at work painting portraits.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

An interview with Anna Lacey, Vicksburg High School art teacher

How many years have you been teaching in the district?
This is my 2nd year at Vicksburg High School. Previously, I taught 10 years at Vicksburg Middle School.

What classes do you teach?
I teach Art 1, Sculpture, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, AP Art.

How do you develop student artists?
All people are artists whether they feel they have “strong” skills or not. Art is a fundamental skill to developing critical thinking, problem solving, fine motor skills, creativity, and alternate ways of thinking. Art isn’t “picky”; there isn’t one way of doing something, and, in a way, anything goes!

What do you think inspires your artists?
I teach students to look around them for inspiration, what captures their attention and how that can translate to their work. Allowing students to tie in personal connections helps them become invested in the work. Student choice is a big component of my classroom and teaching philosophy.

Could you explain the Advanced Placement Art offering?
Every other year VHS has an AP Art section. Students have to form an independent investigation/inquiry that will guide their work for the year. They produce artwork throughout the year and submit a portfolio of 15 examples of their work (processes, ideas and materials). The College Board evaluates the work and awards scores based on the final portfolio and written reflections. Generally, there are 8-12 students who participate.

What competitions do your students enter?
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has a juried art show each spring. Last year five VHS students had work accepted and displayed in the show, and three even earned college scholarships. Last year one student had a piece accepted in the Michigan Art Education Association state art show. The piece was on display in Ann Arbor along with a selection of other work from students around the state.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching art?
When students can be themselves in my room. Many find art to be an escape. My favorite is when I see a student truly feel proud of their work, when they accomplished something they weren’t sure they could.

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