“Art is the crux of the community,” according to McCracken County High School art teacher Shand Stamper. And while expression is a tool that we are all born with, not everyone understands how to utilize it, says Stamper. That is why she and other art teachers from the region are participating in The Paducah School of Art and Design’s (PSAD) Legacy exhibition—to show aspiring young artists what they too can accomplish if they choose to express themselves through art.
“You can outsource jobs and you can outsource trade…but you really can't outsource culture. And at the core, at the heart of American culture, is the arts,” said Stamper.
Stamper identifies as a mother, a teacher, a business owner, and a creator. It is important to her that her students see that a person can wear many hats and still make art. “The faculty exhibition is an opportunity to show what professionalism in art looks like, because we don't really have that many opportunities,” said Stamper.
Stamper and her husband, Mitch Kimble, also an instructor at McCracken County High School, moved to Paducah with the Artist Relocation Project almost 10 years ago. They have since renovated an 1890’s Victorian home and studio in Lower Town, where they occasionally make space for visiting artists through the artists-in-residence program hosted by Paducah Arts Alliance. Their studio houses a wood-fired soda kiln which also serves as a gathering place for friends and other clay artists.
Stamper often tells her students she is an activist and explains that art can represent much more than a pretty painting; it can cause others to think and question their surroundings. “So the pieces that I have that are in the faculty show are really just crisp, evenly defined, a juxtaposition between the hard exterior and a soft interior,” said Stamper. She likens the example to many of the hard structures, like homes and buildings, that make up our communities. “If you think about the inside of these places, they are all filled with soft things, like carpet and curtains.” She challenges her students to think about how these objects can manifest into other things that represent our environment—internally and externally.
PSAD Dean Paul Aho says teachers like Stamper and Kimble embody the spirit of Legacy. “Our intent is to present an exciting exhibition showcasing the work of regional art teachers and honoring the contributions they have made within their respective communities. Mentorship and a contagious passion for art are key factors in shaping the lives of student artists,” Aho said. “Being able to connect the work produced by their teachers provides a direct connection to the school as well as the students.”
To date more than a dozen artist/teachers have agreed to participate in the faculty exhibit.