Teaching Artist Spotlight: Laura Frantz

Name: Laura K. Frantz

Hometown: Eugene, Oregon

Media: Paint

Website: laurakfrantz.com

NURTUREart program: I work in the Visiting Artist Program at PS 147 in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  This particular residency integrates sculpture projects into the fourth-grade science curriculum.   We’ve been using a lot of found objects and materials, and looking at how these materials take on new life through the creative process.

Funny story from the classroom: In a recent 4th grade art project, I was having the students use a single color to paint their sculptures.  In most classes, this went over well; they blithely accepted my choice and went to work.  But this particular class had spent more time with NURTUREart than any other, and had fully internalized the lesson that the artist is in charge, and makes decisions on her own.  They were not impressed with being given a single color and told to use it.  “We’re artists,” one kid informed me.  “And artists need to use more colors.”

I gave them more colors.

Why do kids need art?

Visual art is a primary language, and kids communicate in it as naturally as they breathe.  It’s a way of thinking, of puzzling through curiosities, of expressing identity.  We ALL need it.  But natural as it may be, kids can lose this visual facility if it isn’t given class time and encouragement.

Other than nurturing the next generation, I also paint in my studio whenever I can, often early in the morning before I go off to work (I’m a graduate assistant in the Hunter College Art & Art History Department) or during the day on weekends.

In addition to the class at NURTUREart, I teach a class at Hunter College called “Introduction to Visual Experience.”  ‘Visual experience’ is a very broad subject, so planning and executing a course that feels focused and cogent has been a real challenge. But Hunter students are wonderful, and working with them rewards the hard work.

When I’m not doing any of the above, I help run a gallery space called Underdonk in the 1717 Troutman building in Bushwick.  We are a collective of about ten practicing artists and take turns curating shows in a tiny room on the second floor.  It’s a good laboratory for art ideas.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be in a five-person painting show at the gallery on Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus, coming up March 1.  The other artists in the show –Sarah Gamble, Clare Grill, Linnea Paskow, and Elisa Soliven–are all smart and rigorous, and make beautiful semi-abstract paintings.  I’m happy to be included in the group.

See more photos of Laura at PS 147 on flickr.