Teacher Appreciation Art Show

Demonstração de Valores Essenciais (Demonstration of Core Values)

Collection of various art works in the 3"x"3 Canvas format.

Amanda Alvarez couldn’t believe her eyes when she checked Instagram and saw one of her original paintings being celebrated at an event 5,000+ miles from home. 

Alvarez serves as a middle school teacher at Colégio Dante in São Paulo, SP.  Her painting offered a fresh interpretation of the infinity symbol used to represent Autistic Pride Day. Alvarez has presented on the importance of inclusion and supporting neurodiverse learners in the classroom. She has also shared that this work matters to her both professionally and personally. 

In December of 2022, Alvarez participated with 50+ educators in a special arts integration workshop hosted by Mizzou Academy. The workshop, led by Dr. Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, Brian Stuhlman, Stephanie Walter, and Ana Nikolau, explored how values inform our work in schools. Drawing on multimedia influences including music and visual arts, each educator brought their own lived experiences to the prompt. The resulting paintings were surprising and bold, and they told of the important work educators do every day. 

Stuhlman said, “Creating the works with colleagues and friends at the end of our conference was an experience both joyful and pensive. It was fun and exciting to be doing art with each other, next to each other, in many ways portraying the dynamics in our own classrooms. Some were very confident in their art skills and jumped at the opportunity; others were less sure and so hid their work from others in a kind of shy way.  But at the end, they were proud of their work and what they’d accomplished, both as an individual, and as a part of the group.” 

The group celebrated with a gallery walk in São Paulo, SP. However, the show didn’t stop there. Earlier this month, Kathryn Fishman-Weaver and Brian Stuhlman unboxed the set of 50+ original paintings, which had traveled with the Mizzou Academy team from Brazil to the U.S. The Mizzou Academy team worked with Dr. Laurie Kingsley, Assistant Dean for Teacher Education in the College of Education and Human Development, to book a special show at her Gallery 717.  

Compelling Art of Miniature Proportions

The paintings are miniature, each carefully crafted on a 3×3 canvas. Turning them over in her hand, Kathryn Fishman-Weaver said she was “struck by the important care of tending to small things,” and the “obvious metaphor as it relates to teaching.” 

Georgia O’Keefe, the famous American artist, said, “Nobody sees a flower–really–it is so small it takes time–we haven’t time–and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” For this reason, she painted enormous flowers—flowers that would make the viewer stop and notice. 

Dr. Laurie Kingsley, the Gallery 717 owner, has a similar respect for proportions. However, she flipped the approach with three miniature studios that make up Gallery 717. 

Gallery 717 is part of a Little Free Gallery movement (similar to the Little Free Libraries). Artists regularly curate shows in these backyard galleries, and most artists leave their works for viewers to take home for free.

Stuhlman and Fishman-Weaver arranged the 50+ paintings in one of the three galleries. Stuhlman provided the artistic direction for exhibit design. He says “Assembling the works in the art space became a mirror to the experience itself.  The creative and colorful pieces were interesting as individual pieces, but they belonged together.  Just as education is a collaborative and cooperative effort, the small individual pieces bonded together into a singular voice.  In this box that didn’t seem like it could be enough, art collected on the back, on the sides, on the floor, on the ceiling…on all the spaces.  Art, education, color, learning, expression…it was all around.  Each piece had a singular expression and each piece joined together in a symphony, just as educators do.” 

Fishman-Weaver called the result “immersive” and invited participants to engage with the collection as a whole. 

The Show Opens in the U.S.

In her opening remarks, Fishman-Weaver shared that the “paintings build on Mizzou Academy’s core values of inclusion, innovation, access, and partnership and tell the story of how each of the artist-teachers live those values out in their school communities. Their paintings tell the story of how our values guide our work in schools. They tell the story of creating brave spaces—spaces for belonging, inclusion, authenticity, and care. In vibrant acrylic, they tell 50+ different stories of showing up for kids.”

At the opening, viewers clinked glasses together, cheered “Parabéns!” to teachers, and took the time to see—to really see—compelling art of miniature proportions. 

Kingsley said the first international show at Gallery 717 was  inspiring. “When you look at the collective works you can really feel the passion these teachers have for this profession, for their students, and for making a true difference. Each tiny artwork said so much about the daily work these teachers do. They are finding ways to motivate, inspire, and engage their students in inclusive and accepting spaces, and somehow they each were able to represent all that work on a 3 x 3 canvas. Amazing!”

Teachers standing beside miniature art galleries for display.