Local art teachers featured in collaborative First Friday Artwalk exhibit

Audrey Dwyer
Local artists Erin Kreis
John F. Russell

If You Go...

What: Art Show with First Friday Artwalk

When: 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 4

Where: Comb Goddess, Old West Building on 11th Street

— In art, there is more than one way to approach a subject or medium.

Friday, three local artists who are also art teachers will show the integration of various mediums and personalities while also illustrating a succinct theme.

“If you look at all of our work together, you have three art teachers who approached their own art show with very different perspectives,” said Morgan Kraska, who specializes in photography and teaches at Steamboat Springs High School. “We are constantly trying to bring it back to the classroom with this idea that in an art class you get to learn that there is more than one right answer and more than one way to go about it.”

Taking their lesson plans out of the classroom and into the real world, Kraska, Erin Kreis, who teaches at Strawberry Park Elementary School, and Susanmarie Oddo, who teaches at Steamboat Springs Middle School, will be featured at Comb Goddess for September’s First Friday Artwalk.

Encouraging students of all ages to attend, the colorfully whimsical exhibit will have a candy reception and give the kids a chance to interact with artists and see a different side of the artistic process.

“There is a public side to being an artist as well,” Kraska said. “It’s not just in the studio, which is most of what they see. This is us not just telling them what to do, this is reality and will make them feel more comfortable to do this on their own.”

When Oddo was at Comb Goddess getting her hair cut about seven years ago, she was inspired by the idea of hosting an art show for kids. It motivated her to have her first exhibit at the salon years ago, and now, the timing was right to include two other teachers in the show.

“I think it’s important for our students to see that we are also artists and to understand the process from discussing it, to see what an art walk is like and to see us in that role,” said Oddo, who is known for her “Kidspiration” collection that depicts lively cartoon creatures inspired by the personalities of local Steamboat kids.

As teachers, they are always trying to push their students to assess and critique their own work, Oddo said. With an event like this, students are challenged to get out of their comfort zones to speak with artists and make a connection between the pieces and inspiration behind them.

Hanging on walls throughout Comb Goddess are Oddo’s paintings full of lively hues that reflect her humor and quirkiness as well as the personalities of each of her students.

Kreis specializes in working with metal and creating 3D objects. Since 2007, she has created her unique jewelry line “Bent,” which she describes as mixed metal with a splash of color.

“The cool thing about this exhibit is that all three of us are art teachers but we are concentrated in different mediums,” Kreis said. “I was telling my kids in class today that we each gravitate toward one medium, but we have to experiment and try all different kinds of mediums to see what would be the best for you.”

Photographs throughout the space are inspirational moments Kraska discovered during a trip to New Orleans for a National Art Education Association convention. Rather than representational photography, the work taken with her iPhone explores the genre of iPhoneography to “transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.”

“The biggest thing I really want to teach the students isn’t necessarily the techniques you use, the tools or even the subject, but that you learn how to try something without a fear of failing,” Kraska said.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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