Monthly Member Highlight: Kim Desjardins
Learn more about VATA Member, Kim Desjardins. We interviewed her about her career and life as an art educator at BFA Fairfax!
1. Where did you grow up and/or how did you know you wanted to become an art educator?!
I grew up in Stowe and knew I wanted to be a teacher before I knew art education was the right path for me. It wasn’t until my freshman year at Johnson State (from which I transferred to UVM) when I knew I was an artist. I had Sarah Amos as a Drawing 1 teacher and was fascinated with the way she could help me switch my perception/observation and help me be able to convey what I observed. That excitement of awesome art teaching, mixed with my love of education in general, inspired me to pursue an Art Education degree from UVM.
2. How long have you been at Fairfax? What do you like about your position there?
I’m in my second year at BFA Fairfax Elementary, where I teach about 375 K-5 year old students. Previous to this position I taught in Maine, then half-time at Hiawatha in Essex and was a visiting teaching artist through Vermont Arts Council, Burlington City Arts, VSA Vermont, and was an Art Education Faculty Lecturer at UVM. I love the fact that my current position is full time! Being part-time many places was amazing- there was diversity and variety of teaching experiences and tons of collaboration- but it was time to simplify. Full time elementary openings are somewhat of a holy grail! We have a giant, beautiful, and bright art room overlooking the school farm. Dreamy because I have taught on a cart a bunch! Our students are on either a three or four day rotation, so I see them more than I have ever seen students for any other position. They get a lot of art! Even though it is a somewhat big school, the community is close and our staff is very caring. Plus, my husband and I bought a house in Fairfax and I can walk to school!
3. As an artist, what is your favorite medium?
Mixed media is the safest answer...because I experiment with anything that I can manipulate in an innovative way. Last November I spent lots of time sculpting a gigantic chicken. It was a color-changing lantern for the River of Light in Waterbury. I have a love for vintage objects, too, and have recently woven with old shoe stretchers and made filmstrip flowers. Since the workshop at the VATA Conference in the fall, I have been honing in on monoprinting with the Geli Plate. I set it up on my kitchen table by the fire and make a beautiful mess of my new house.
In front of Geli Prints I made at the VATA Conference. This is S.P.A.C.E Gallery Small Works Show
4. Do you have any social media accounts you would like to share with us? Webpage, Blog, Instagram, Twitter?
My personal art account is on Facebook- Kim Desjardins Art and Craft. I also have a school Instagram @BFACreativekids and professional Twitter @KimberleyDesja2
5. Would you like to share a favorite project you have your students create? Pics? Or what's your teaching style/philosophy?
As I get my hands dirty at my new school, I am taking baby steps to build in art integration, collaborative murals, and school wide art shows. It is taking some time to orient myself and see how my philosophy, hopes and dreams can fit in with the schedule and structure in a full time situation. A goal of mine is to head to a TAB approach with my older students. Bringing the community together through the arts is a passion of mine. I use Universal Design for Learning to structure my teaching, and to meet all learners where they are at. I offer a lot of flexibility within lessons and provide a wide variety of art experiences for all. Here is a fun lesson: Our 3rd Grade Yayoi Kusama paper mache pumpkins. Students experimented with mirrors to create their own mini “Infinity Rooms” like Kusama.
6. Outside of the art room, do you have any secret loves or talents? Any interesting places you've traveled?
I find lots of four-leaf clovers (Instagram #kimsfourleafcloverdiary). I also raise Monarchs. My sister and I share a vintage booth at Vintage Inspired in Burlington and sell neat old wares we have picked. Big stress-relievers for me are: dancing, singing, and spending time in the woods. On a great day, I will combine all three together! Last summer my husband and I traveled to Puerto Rico and stayed in the El Yunque Rainforest. I don’t think I danced in those woods because the roots were too slippery but I did do a lot of plein air watercolor and pastel drawings on that trip! I am excited for the NAEA Conference this March- hope I see lots of VATA members there!