Q&A With a Senior Art Education Major

Gabrielle Kennedy looks toward some of her artwork on the walls.

Originally from Lake Wales, located in Central Florida, Gabrielle Kennedy is an upperclassman, on track to earn her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Studio Art as an Art Education major here at Rowan University.

Are you taking art classes and education classes? Can you tell me a little bit about the classes that you get to take as an Art Education major? 

“With the art education program, you’re taking art classes and education classes together with each other. So it’s not just all art classes at one time and all education classes at one time. It’s really nice because you get that blended experience.”

How do these classes prepare you to be an art teacher? 

“They prepare you because they take really nice, baby steps, they don’t just throw you in straight away. They really introduce you to all the basic things first, and they give you a little bit of experience as you go. Then the more you start taking the classes the more time you have, and the more you start amping up the concepts and different things that you’re doing.”

What do you hope to do with this degree? A few years out, like what would you love to see yourself doing if you could do anything? 

“So my personal goal is I would love to work in a studio just like this in a college, like what I’m doing now. But I’d like to do that more professionally, and be involved with the students and help them with their projects, and do that full time.” 

How did you learn about art education? To elaborate, what drew you to that major? 

“I’ve always been interested in art since I was a little kid. I knew, right from the beginning, that’s what I wanted to do. Art education came up for me as an option when I was in high school because that’s when I started thinking about college, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be able to share that passion with others, and teach people about art and why I’m passionate about it, and why they should be passionate about it, too.”

What makes you passionate about art, then? Where does your inspiration come from? 

“A lot of my inspiration comes from the world around me. It is more like the nature aspect of it, I like to spend a lot of time outdoors. And that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration stems from.”

What kind of things do you like to create or do you create?

“I create a lot of drawings. I do a lot of watercolor paintings. I do a lot of digital art, and a lot of modeling, and I like to make sculptures as well. I like to do a little bit of everything.”

Gabrielle putting her creative mind to work.

So what advice would you have for someone who’s looking at this program and they’re not sure if It’s a good fit for them where they’re nervous about coming into some of this? Do you have any advice as someone who’s kind of already lived through it? 

“I would say try to get support from all the people you know. So reaching out to people that have been in the program before, if you can. Reaching out to your parents, and your friends, and having them come to appointments with you just raises your confidence. Also going out to the advisors trying to get involved with programs and growing as much as you can just to learn about things. I think that will make them feel welcome and confident.”

Are there any student clubs that you can get involved in that are geared toward just art or education? 

“Yeah, there are tons of clubs at Rowan. The one that we have for education specifically, is the national educators. The National Art Education Association has its own club here, and it’s very professional, they do a lot of fun things. We also have the Women of Westby, which is named after the building where it’s held, but it’s women-oriented. And it’s art-oriented as well. So it’s a good mix of that.”

Did you have to student teach as a part of this program?

“You do student teach I believe in the last two years of the program. I’m actually in one of those years right now. So this year, we have something called the SMART program, and every Saturday kids come in, in the morning from 8:00 to 12:00 and you give a lesson to them. And you do that weekly, throughout the semester. Then the last year, you head into a school at least once a week, it might even be more than that and you give lessons with a teacher.”

Can you talk about the importance of art in the development of children?

“The importance of art for children is something I’m really passionate about. Art is where kids learn individuality, it’s where they find freedom, and there are no rules. It’s essential to the growth of creativity, everywhere we look, art is there.”

What impact do you hope to have, whether it be in your community or art in general, what impact do you hope to have on art as a whole? 

“My goal is to just inspire people, whether that’s through my actions, whether that’s just through being myself, and then showing my art, as well just to inspire people to be themselves and to do what they want to do.”

Gabrielle soaking up some beautiful pieces of art.

Lastly, why did you choose Rowan?

“I chose Rowan because I heard a lot of good things. A lot of people I knew went to Rowan and actually one of my teachers in high school, she came from Rowan. And she was a great teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher just like her.”

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Story by:
Asiya Robinson, junior writing arts major