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Local art teachers awarded cultural trips

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(Left to right) Art teachers Beverly Y. Smith and David Theissen; contributor Gail Thomas Peacock and her husband Ed Peacock; and art teacher Kristin St. Martin. (Photo courtesy of McColl Center for Visual Art.)
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McColl Center for Visual Art has received a major contribution to its annual Art Teacher-in-Residence Program (ATIR.) Gail Thomas Peacock, a former art teacher, recently made gifts to the Center to establish the Gail Thomas Peacock Art Teacher-in-Residence and Travel Awards.

Peacock's support of the Art Teacher-in-Residence Program marks the largest individual contribution the Center has received for a program that has been historically supported by corporations and foundations.

The ATIR Program creates residency opportunities to the dedicated art teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and has helped to improve arts education in the Charlotte region over the last decade.

Peacock’s contribution directly supports the residency of current CMS art teacher David Theissen as well as provides three CMS art teachers with Travel Awards to visit New York City and Washington, D.C., to experience museums, performances, and cultural amenities in two- and three-day excursions.

Her support was motivated by her personal travels in 1966 when she was given the opportunity to join five other teachers on a trip to New York City and D.C.

“We’re repeating this for three of these wonderful teachers, and they’re going to have a ball, I know. I came out of my trip never forgetting” said Peacock. “I was an art history major out of Vanderbilt and I had seen the slides, but to walk in and see [paintings like] ‘The Boating Party’ by Pierre Auguste Renoir, for the first time and realize that it was the size of an entire wall has a lasting effect and changes who you are and how you teach.”

The recipients of the travel award are CMS art teachers, David Theissen (South Charlotte Middle School), Beverly Y. Smith (West Charlotte High School), and Kristin St. Martin (Mallard Creek High School) who were selected through an application process.

With an itinerary that includes visits to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Phillips Collection, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Gallery of Art, The Holocaust Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim, and The Frick Collection, the teachers will also have the opportunity to attend other cultural events, such as performances of ballet, symphony, and/or opera.

To date, 12 CMS art teachers have participated in three-month residencies at the Center over the past 12 years. Each ATIR receives $2,000 for materials and is relieved of their teaching responsibility for three months while still receiving full pay and benefits to focus on their personal practice in a private studio.

With 24/7 access to their studio at the Center, each ATIR has the chance to focus on their own body of artwork, experiment and learn new techniques. They also get to work alongside other artists-in-residence and conduct research in a 30,000-square-foot facility, which includes a darkroom, woodshop, sculpture studio, media lab and printmaking studio.

Additionally, the ATIR also leads in-service teacher workshops for every art teacher in CMS and while in residence and devotes time to developing a new curriculum for their students.

“McColl Center for Visual Art has been the perfect place to accomplish what I wanted to do,” Peacock said. “We hope our support will encourage more teachers to apply to the Center’s program and grant the opportunity for more teachers to grow and learn as both a professional and artist.”



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July 22, 2014
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