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MC Spotlight 20/20 Kristin Baxter Associate Professor of Art

Spotlight 20/20

Kristin Baxter

What is your role at the College and what is something many may not know about the work you do?

As Associate Professor of Art my “home” is in the art department, but I actually teach for three different programs. I teach art education and art history courses, but I also teach a course for the Early Childhood Education Program as well as First Year Writing Seminar. After earning my yoga teacher certification in 2016, I designed a section of FYWS called “Yoga, Art, and Writing” and I teach yoga to my students in Payne Gallery each week. 

My favorite spot on campus is ______ because ______. 

Reeves Library. I love all of the potential that’s bubbling beneath the surface of libraries.

My favorite college tradition is ______ because ______.

My favorite college tradition is everything greyhound because last May I adopted Marv Levy, a six-year-old brindle greyhound (who is usually mistaken as Benny!). Marv raced in 192 races in Palm Beach until he was four years old!

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One thing that many of my colleagues don’t know about me outside of my Moravian College responsibilities is ______. I am sharing this with you because ______.

One thing that many of my colleagues don’t know about me outside of my Moravian College responsibilities is that I teach art every other week to teenage residents in a juvenile justice center. I am sharing this with you because my students at the center teach me so much about what’s really important in this life. I love every minute of my time with them.

My typical weekend would go something like this: ______.

Look at my long “to-do” list and decide to go to yoga; go on a Target run for paper towels and maybe some socks and then leave after spending $300 on who knows what else (how does that happen?); do laundry; grade student work; prepare art materials for some new project I’m scheming up; drive my kids somewhere; go to the dog park with Marv; avoid cleaning the bathrooms (at all costs); avoid vacuuming (again); order dinner from Grubhub and then watch something good on Netflix with my daughter.

I gave and/or received a MoPaw to/from ______ and it made me smile because ______.

I received a MoPaw from my student, Shun Yang, and it made me smile because he is an entrepreneur, a science major, and a business owner, yet he has been one of the strongest supporters of art education at Moravian College. I believe he models the goals of a liberal arts education. Plus, I just love his energy and positive vibes he brings to my classes.

My favorite thing to do when I am away from campus is ______ because ______.

My favorite thing to do when I am away from campus is spend time at my parents’ log cabin in Upstate New York. My dad and my uncle built it when I was four years old and we’ve been going up there for family vacations ever since.

I like the color ______ because ______.

I like the color orange because it seems like it is completely accepting of others. It often gets left out (who, for instance, likes the orange Skittles or orange Jolly Ranchers? No one.). Orange is overshadowed by more popular colors like blue or purple or pink or red. To me, orange seems like a patient color, hanging out on the sidelines, just happy being orange. I like that.

When I grow up, I want to be ______ because ______.

When I grow up I want to be a foster parent because I’ve been blessed with so much and loving others is life-affirming and life-enriching.

A funny pet peeve of mine is ______. This has encouraged me to go so far as to: ______.

A funny pet peeve of mine are long emails. Or even worse—long emails with attachments. Or worse still—long emails with attachments AND charts (OMG, I’m guilty of sending these!). This has encouraged me to go so far as to think that we should all be fired on the spot for sending these (if my supervisors are reading this, I’m just kidding!)

Who is your hero? Why?

My dad, Tom Baxter. He’s 79 years old and still runs his own business, a commercial HVAC company in Long Island City, NY. He still climbs up into ceilings and on rooftops all over New York City with his men. He can tell you every trick for avoiding traffic anywhere at any time in any of the five boroughs. He grew up as the youngest of five kids in Brooklyn, NY to immigrant parents from Ireland. He dropped out of school in eighth grade and later joined the Army, where he earned his GED. Now he travels the world with my mom, drives a gigantic fancy car with all the “bling,” and builds custom furniture in his spare time. (And sometimes I have days where I’m proud of myself just for flossing.)

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“Life is one damn thing after another.” 
I don’t think that’s actually “advice” and it wasn’t given to me specifically, but I took a class with the renowned philosopher Maxine Greene while in grad school. She would often say that and I took it as advice, meaning that you just gotta keep going. Life gives us setbacks, betrayals, disappointments, tragedy, uncertainty, loneliness, and fear. Such is the human condition. I have learned that when I connect with people in authentic ways, we realize how much of these seemingly “negative” experiences we have in common. And we realize how much support is out there in the world for us if we just open our hearts and be honest with those we trust. I love that. 

Make up your own question and answer!

Q: What would you do if you knew you would not fail?
A: Volunteer to be the guy inside the greyhound mascot costume at Moravian football games.

What sound do you love? Why? 

My two teenage kids often have their friends over our house on the weekends and they watch Vines or ridiculous YouTube videos. Sometimes they bring their ukuleles (yes, it’s a thing now) and guitars (and amps…ugh) and I love to have my house full of this “noise”—laughter and random outbursts of music. It just reminds me of that feeling of effortlessly being with the people we love, of feeling free, open, and being in the moment, not fretting about the past or future.

What is your favorite ice cream? Why?

Chocolate chip cookie dough with rainbow sprinkles because unicorns like rainbows and I also collect unicorns.

I can never resist a good ______.

episode of whatever my students recommend on Netflix.

What makes you happy?

imperfect people, glitter, Netflix, silence, reading, Grubhub, stickers, flossing, oatmeal, Sharpies, unicorns, rainbows, encaustics, Radio Lab, Rhinebeck, journaling, paint-by-numbers, knitting, houseplants, John Oliver, Breaking Bad, rail trail walks, hummingbirds, Hudson Valley, New York City, drive-in movies, Stephen Colbert, Stranger Things, exquisite fabrics, young people who question the gender binary, Call the Midwife, Wonder Woman, asparagus picking, evening birdsongs, 500-piece puzzles, days with no plans, life’s incongruities, Snapfish photobooks, my hair stylist Ryan, The Promenade, a day without worries, New Hope and new hope, traversing internal geography, enlightenment in this lifetime, The Great British Bake-Off, Asian Nachos at Grand Lux Café, grumpy, chubby, stubby-tail cats, launching my kids into their lives, solar-powered yard decor from Rite Aid, effortless conversations with students who linger after class, the 100-year-old man who jumped out a window and disappeared, birthday cake from ShopRite with buttercream icing and cannoli filling 

If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why? 

Millie Bobby Brown because “11,” who she plays in Stranger Things, is an amazing character. Her life’s mantra is “friends don’t lie;” she’s fiercely loyal; she doesn’t give up; she’s doesn’t talk a lot; she knows what love is; and she likes Eggos.