Finding inspiration at The Woods: Indiana art teachers gather at SMWC for retreat

August 5th, 2015 | SMWC

Art Retreat
The Art Education Association of Indiana, Inc. (AEAI) retreat took place at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), July 13-17, 2015.

“I really enjoy the time we spend creating here,” said Lindsey Preston, art teacher at Kankakee Valley High School, as she presented the work she accomplished throughout the week. This was the 14th year that the Art Education Association of Indiana, Inc. (AEAI) retreat has been held on the campus of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC). “The campus is very beautiful. It is a quiet and peaceful place to go to get away from distractions,” added Kevin Schultz, AEAI retreat co-coordinator.

A total of 26 AEAI members attended the retreat this year, all of which are art educators ranging from elementary to college-levels, as well as retirees. These educators traveled to The Woods from all over the state of Indiana, from Fort Wayne to New Albany and everywhere in between.

“We are like-minded in our passion for making art and learning new processes,” added Shultz.

Participants native to the Wabash Valley included retired Dixie Bee and Farrington Grove elementary art teacher, Pam Anshutz, and Suzanna Finn, 2013 art education graduate of Indiana State University.

Lindsey Preston
Retreat participant, Lindsey Preston, art teacher at Kankakee Valley High School

“The AEAI retreats are my summer rejuvenation and recharge of creativity. I am enveloped in the energies of my fellow art educators,” said Finn. “Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus provides a beautiful and peaceful environment to recharge myself for another year.”

Throughout the week, the educators learned how to transfer images on canvas, wood, cloth and ceramics, as well as how to make unique copper jewelry. The classes and studio time give them professional development time, which active educators may use for teaching license renewal. The participants are more than art educators; they are artists in their own right. By spending this time focusing on their craft, they allow themselves to become better teachers for their students.

“This was such a talented group,” said Bonnie Zimmer, associate professor of art and department head at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., who taught various workshops during the retreat. 

Bonnie Zimmer
Retreat workshop instructor, Bonnie Zimmer, associate professor of art and department head at Saint Joseph’s College, retreat workshop instructor

Their week culminated with an art show on campus that The Woods community was invited to attend. On display were the mediums and pieces that these artists had spent their week learning about and creating.

“I love coming to retreat because we get all of this great information and share inspiring ideas,” said Terri Nagel, retired art teacher from Fort Wayne, Ind.

For some, the connection to SMWC is comprised of more than just the AEIA retreat. Zimmer explained that many of her students have come to The Woods to further their education in the Master of Arts in Art Therapy (MAAT) program, stating, “I’m very thankful for that program and what it offers to my students.” Truly one of a kind, the MAAT program at SMWC is the only distance art therapy hybrid program to gain approval from the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).

For more information on hosting an event or retreat at The Woods, please visit www.smwc.edu/resources/event-hosting. For additional information about the Master of Arts in Art Therapy program, visit www.smwc.edu/graduate/maat