Art is what we all have in common. Teaching art is a calling—a challenging, passion-filled calling. At Art Class Curator, our mission is to revolutionize art education and empower teachers with innovative learning activities and diverse works of art to spark student connections that last a lifetime. With our community of educators, we are kindling a passion for art that will transform generations and change the world.
Below, you can learn a little more about each member of the Art Class Curator team and hear some of our personal stories of art connection.
Hi! I’m Cindy Ingram, founder of Art Class Curator and the Curated Connections Library.
I have the awkward habit of crying in front of artworks, and I want the rest of the world to do it too. This noble quest has culminated in the creation of Art Class Curator, where I share how to creatively teach art appreciation and art history in a way that will spark a lifelong love of art.
I have more than fifteen years of experience in schools, museums, and non-profit organizations. I have an MA in Art Education and a BA in Art History. I had the honor of being a Marcus Fellow, a fellowship dedicated to arts leadership from the North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts. In addition to working in museums and teacher professional development, I have had the privilege of teaching art in the classroom to all grades–elementary to college.
I live in Dallas, Texas, with my awesome science nerd husband and two zany, lovely daughters. I love traveling–to visit favorite and new museums and galleries and art history sites, of course–in the US and abroad, and am midway through a 10-year plan to take my family on a grand art education adventure around the world.
To date, I have not yet made any of my students cry (knowingly), but there is still time.
Cindy’s Art Story
In the fall of 2003, I was in the process of applying to PhD programs in Art History. On New Years Day 2004, my husband and I drove down to Houston to see highlights from the MOMA museum while it was under construction.
I was speechless as I walked from painting to painting. Then, I turned the corner into a new gallery where Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror punched me in the stomach. I actually almost fell over when I saw it from across the room. Its magnificence instantly brought me to tears. As I stared into the stark contrast of the blue and orange mirror frame, I realized that what I was looking at, according to my own eyes and heart, was pure perfection.
I became mesmerized and scared. Scared of the depth of feeling the painting created in me but also scared that feeling would never come back if I continued to study art history. I feared that if I dissected art too much for too long, it would lose its magic. I began to realize that I didn’t want to deconstruct art so much that it lost its personal meaning and essential value.
Instead of picking apart art, I wanted to help other people experience art in meaningful ways. So, I jumped ship from the Art History track, got my M.A. in Art Education, and eventually started Art Class Curator.
Madalyn Gregory is the organizer of all things at Art Class Curator. She takes notes, fills calendars, and ensures that our collaboration becomes a masterpiece. You might find her answering a comment or email, working behind the scenes to bring Cindy’s brilliance to light, or writing words to inspire our community of curators.
Before joining the Art Class Curator team, Madalyn started Internet Impresario where she helped bloggers, podcasters, lifestyle gurus, and businesses owners speak the language their communities needed to hear. Madalyn writes fiction and non-fiction (professionally and otherwise), devours the souls of books (you may call it reading), plays the ukulele (badly), paints (joyfully), and walks through the world with a sense of wary wonder-lust. She is mother to one natural thespian and one sports virtuoso and wife to one hunk of star stuff.
Madalyn’s Art Story
On the day I took the selfie above, I had one of the strangest days of my life. I was overseas for the first time. Things back home were complicated, but I was surrounded by beauty, history, and friends. That night, we were in Vienna. Our time there was brief, not nearly enough to take in all of the art museums. The choice of where to go was left to me. Anyone who knows me knows I struggle to make decisions. My mother will tell you she never gave me a choice between sweet treats. As a toddler I’d cry when presented with the option of cherry or grape, but would be overjoyed if handed either without being asked. But that night in Austria, the choice came easily—we’d go to the Leopold Museum and see the Vienna 1900 exhibition. I was not prepared for what awaited me. We stayed until the museum closed. I walked out excavated—the art dug past layers of joy and worry and jet lag. I felt hollow and exposed.
The Leopold Museum holds many wonders and I could share several art stories from that night alone, but I’ll tell you about Gustav Klimt’s Death and Life. Around a corner, I found it. The path to the artwork was long and empty. Even across the room, it stunned. Larger than I expected, deeper and richer than I could guess. It froze me in place as my mind imagined the intent of Death and the many possible stories of the amalgam of people. Were they related? A family? Strangers? Alive? Dead? Soon to be departed? The woman with her eyes open—sickly or blushing? Does she see Death coming, does she welcome him? Every interpretation felt right and true. I pulled myself away as others sought to see the masterpiece, but returned again and again, staying at last, alone, until I could stay no longer.
I may not be Cindy’s student, but I was there with her, because of her, and the art brought tears to my eyes. I think that counts.
Rachel Lapp Whitt
Rachel Lapp Whitt started having conversations about art with her father, a ceramic artist and professor, when she was 4 years old. When she saw an opportunity posted regarding design and creative work for Art Class Curator, she jumped out of her chair and contacted Cindy immediately. She does graphic design work to support the online and print offerings and identity for Art Class Curator, and loves to contribute creatively to Art Class Curator’s mission of engaging teachers and students in art-looking, conversation, and whole-body-and-mind engagement at any level.
Rachel is a graphic designer, editor, and multimedia communication specialist who began her career in public radio and newspaper journalism before moving into higher education public relations. At Goshen College, she directed a busy department responsible for media relations, alumni magazine publication, Web development, video production, and advertising. She partnered with an academic faculty member to establish the Peace and Justice Journalism Initiative for student journalism education and, after earning a master’s degree from DePaul University in Multicultural Communication (focus on Media, Society, and Culture) began teaching in the Communication Department at Goshen College; she taught public speaking, intercultural communication, public relations, mass media, communication research, writing, and more. She is co-author with her mother, Anita Stalter, of a book about Indiana women in history. Rachel has also worked for several boutique design and communication firms, and has maintained a freelance communication-related career since her undergrad years, focusing on artists and arts entrepreneurs, community organizations, and small businesses.
Rachel’s Art Story
The documentary film Sky Ladder chronicles the ambitious work of native Chinese artist, now based in NYC, Cai Guo-Qiang. While Sky Ladder itself is incredible, it was another artwork shown in the film that made me cry. Cai Guo-Qiang created a complex gunpowder work titled Elegy: Explosion Event which was created for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave in Shanghai. In the second and third sections of the 7-minute-long work are strange and lovely “brush stroke” fireworks that, carefully orchestrated, create ephemeral streaks of brilliance in the daytime sky. Then clouds of color emerged and climbed, evoking a strong emotional response for me. Like human feelings that so often do not have distinct labels or defined edges, these multi-hued clouds billowed on top of one another, climbing through the air and into one another to become an embrace of the sky. I was undone by this, and quite surprisingly so.
Since seeing this artwork, I’ve found that even photos of fireworks and – this starts to get interesting – vintage illustrated firework supplier catalogs – can evoke for me this same sense of wonder and emotion. The color and symmetry, the brightness and brilliance – it’s a mirror of the natural world but in technicolor, painted into the sky. I quite recognize the artificiality of it, even as I have the same open-mouthed gape as a child seeing a local fireworks show for the first time.
Jennifer is the thoughtful designer behind the Artwork of the Week lessons and many of the resources in the Curated Connections Library. With a BA in Visual Communications from Lubbock Christian University and a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M, Jennifer has been teaching Art for 10 years. She has taught in both public and private sectors. In 2012, she was recognized as the Texas Art Education Association’s Student of the Year for her graduate work with Texas A&M and in 2015 was named a George H. W. Bush Presidential Library’s Educator of the Year. She has led numerous workshops and camps across the Brazos Valley, as well as at Texas Art Education Association and National Art Education Association Conferences.
Jennifer’s Art Story
Growing up, I never really had much opportunity to look at art. The closest art museum was at least 6 hours away. Also, the school I attended was too small to have art classes, so it was never something I thought about or interacted with.
In college, I had the opportunity to go to Italy. While in Florence, I was told that I needed to go to the Uffizi but didn’t really know or understand what it was. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to go through the museum, so I was rushing from room to room. However, when I came face to face with Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, my breath caught in my chest and got chill bumps. I was completely blown away by the magnitude of the paintings. The details you could see in each painting were just incredible! To see them face to face and up close and in person, totally changed my thinking. I couldn’t believe how different they looked when standing in front of the actual painting versus only looking at it in a book or projected on a screen.
My life changed at that moment. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the Arts and I want to share this discovery and new found passion with others. Many years later, I still haven’t tired of looking at art up close and in person!
Katherine is the Administrative Assistant here at Art Class Curator. When she isn’t answering email or posting to social media for Art Class Curator, she is an artist and K-6 elementary art teacher at a Title 1 Bilingual school in the suburbs of Fort Worth, TX. Katherine’s hobbies include visiting the fantastic museums of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, hanging out with her dogs at the local parks, seeing all the latest blockbusters with her husband and fellow artist Keith, and having fun colored hair during summer vacation. Katherine loves contemporary art and is always trying to find working artists to show her students along with artists who have already made a name for themselves in history.
Katherine’s Art Story
When I traveled to Germany for the first time on a group travel abroad experience in college, one of the first museums we went to was small with wooden floors, and you had to climb stairs to the top of its three floors. I was a little jet lagged and tired after the stairs, but I approached the first artwork in the gallery and was immediately taken with the geometric shapes, variety of colors and something that was childlike yet sophisticated at the same time. I looked at the description card next to the work and it read “Paul Klee”. I made a note to look up the artist when I got back to our lodging, then moved on to the next piece.
A few moments later I observed another piece I was drawn to and held my attention more than the others around it. I looked at the description card to find, once again, Paul Klee’s name printed. This moment occurred about 6-8 different times during this visit, and when we left I had a new favorite artist. It was the first time I was truly able to identify and appreciate an artist’s style, and the experience not only reenergized me that day, but also gave me a feeling I wanted to share with my students while looking at art and developing a personal relationship with it.