Pursuing Happiness with Passion
Kelsey King ’14 Forges Her Future Through PAEA Children Art Exhibit
By Marie Mikols ’17
Ever since she was a young child, Kelsey King, a senior at Moravian College, had a passion for art. “I loved to draw and make things. My mom use to keep a big box of crafts for me,” she recalls. This love for art followed King into her high school years. Upon entering college, however, King’s original plan was to major in French and German because she felt discouraged by many from pursuing a career in art. It wasn’t until a high school teacher convinced King that her interest in art might lead to her dream job: being an art educator. King began taking AP art and studio classes while still in high school. “I couldn’t separate myself from it,” she says.
Once enrolled at Moravian, King was firm on her decision to teach art. During her freshman year, King attended an educational program meeting in order to gain a better understanding of what it meant to become a educator. She was inspired by one of the speakers on hand, Robert Mayer, professor of education, who she described as “a positive educator who believes in education.” King knew she had chosen the right path and proceeded to become more involved.
While in her first semester at Moravian, King began taking art classes, which led her to eventually pursue opportunities for hands-on experience. She came away impressed with the opportunities offered through the College. “Moravian gets students out into the field,” says King. From there she began student teaching at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. Being in a classroom setting allowed King to realize that one day she wants to teach at either the elementary or high school level.
Wanting to further expand her educational experience, King became involved in the College’s Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR) program during the summer of 2013. SOAR is a student-based program that allows students interested in a specific career to explore opportunities in the field. This hands-on learning program enabled King to become a curator for the Children’s Art Exhibit, open to grades kindergarten through 12th, held at the Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA) conference in Bethlehem. She learned about this opportunity through her advisor, Kristin Baxter, co-chair of the PAEA conference and an assistant professor of art. As soon as King heard about the project, she became excited for the opportunity, recalling her own experiences as a young artist. She vividly remembered how motivating it was to see her own artwork on display as a high schooler. “It altered how I saw myself as an artist and I wanted to provide this same experience for others,” says King.
Throughout her SOAR project, King juggled many different responsibilities as an exhibit curator. In August, she began communicating with 800 different schools involved in the PAEA, soliciting student artwork to display in the Payne Gallery, which hosted the PAEA conference. Over the next few months, which led into the College’s fall semester, King continued to work on the exhibit. She made sure to take special care of the submitted artwork and compiled a spreadsheet to organize the art pieces. “I wanted to take care of the artwork just like the artist would,” explains King. She also created a gallery guide that explained how to educate children on a gallery and make it a memorable experience. Titled “How to Talk Art with Children,” the guide offered unique ideas on engaging children to interpret and understand the art they might encounter at a gallery.
Art is expressed visually and is an exploration of oneself to the world.”
– Kelsey King ’14
During her experience with the Children’s Art Exhibit, King said she enjoyed working with teachers in the art field and seeing the smile on a young child’s face when they saw their own artwork on display. This brought back fond memories for King, especially when she saw one family take a picture of the child next to their artwork. She recalls the pride she felt seeing her own creations exhibited in school. Seeing the same reactions on another student’s face was priceless. “I was proud to provide that moment for a student,” says King.
When asked why she believes artwork is important for children, King explains it enables an exploration of materials not only in a physical aspect, but idea based as well. Problem solving can also be applied to the creation of art through deciding how the final piece should look or the process in which to complete a project. This allows children to express themselves in different ways. “Art is expressed visually and is an exploration of oneself to the world,” concludes King.
By pursuing her love of art and not giving up on her dream, King is an inspiration to those who want to pursue a major based on their passions. She advices those who might want to follow a similar path to “not get discouraged and keep your head held high.” She believes a career is not about the money, but something you’re passionate about. As King pursued her major in art education, she knew her heart was in the right place. The SOAR project deepened King’s love for the arts and called her curatorship “an incredible opportunity.”
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