Perhaps no one person has had more impact on the artistic abilities of neighborhood children than TAMMY GORE, who opened the Lakewood Arts Academy in 1992. She has since sold it to her friend and loyal employee, Barley Vogel, who moved the academy to Lake Highlands and renamed it Studio Arts Dallas. But Gore still teaches the occasional class, and the studio continues to operate on her founding philosophy: “All children should be given the opportunities that art offers in a nurturing, creative and safe environment.” Now in her fifth year of teaching art at Hexter Elementary, she has discovered her true passion is reaching out to a wider, more diverse community of people where the greatest needs exist.
WHAT PROMPTED YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN CHILDREN’S ART?
After graduating college, I began working with The Young Artist Program, Dallas’ first after-school art program for children. I quickly came to realize that there was a need for art programs outside a child’s regular school day, and that parents were looking for these opportunities. Inspired, I decided to start my own arts program in a studio setting within my beloved community.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF TEACHING?
The prize for me is the personal fulfillment and inspiration I get out of teaching 500 beautiful, smiling faces every week at my school. Making art with kids all day is my idea of the perfect job, and my way of contributing something positive to the world. Hexter Elementary has an amazing dedicated group of parents, teachers and community supporters who are willing to come together once a year and put on a silent auction, a two-day arts festival and a home tour in order to support enrichment in its school. Talk about a grassroots effort. This proves that people really can work together to change the world, even if it is just a little part of the world located in a little neighborhood in East Dallas!
IS THERE A PARTICULAR ART FORM OR SKILL YOU LIKE TO TEACH?
I love teaching observational drawing the most. I love opening kids’ eyes to details — teaching them to stop, to be still, to be quiet and just observe something closely for a minute … I prefer teaching third-grade and up, simply because I can teach more concepts and technique. I’m still trying to figure out how to teach preschoolers.
WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU CREATE ON YOUR OWN TIME?
I’ve always enjoyed the arduous process of painting in oil, but more recently I’ve discovered the delights of collage and found objects together. I love dabbling in all of it, and my worktable at home is covered with projects in-the-making. I’m considered fairly proficient in all forms of art making; however, I can’t throw a pot on a potter’s wheel worth a flip!
YOU BECAME INVOLVED WITH DALI, THE DALLAS ARTS LEARNING INITIATIVE, LAST YEAR AT ITS INCEPTION. HOW DO YOU SEE IT AFFECTING YOU AND YOUR STUDENTS?
Little did I know that my own story — my own little part-time job in my corner of the world — would become a major topic of discussion, would be studied and presented as proof that communities will go to extremes to have arts brought in when their schools have nonexistent arts enrichment programs. All Dallas ISD children in the district who have never even seen a paintbrush will finally get the wonderful experiences that making art can bring. When all children are served, we will all benefit — when all the elementary-age children are happily making art, I predict TAKS scores will be better. Art can be such an ego boost, especially to those kids that struggle academically. Often, some of our most creative and talented students have learning differences, and it is in the art classroom that they can finally shine.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DALI, visit fyifamily.net.
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