Friday, January 9, 2009

Manda LaFleur: Retiring Art Teacher Looking Forward With a "Quiet Country Sunrise"

Manda LaFleur, art teacher at Loonfoot Falls schools for over thirty years, is retiring this spring. Although her lava lamp and dreamcatcher will be gone from the old art room, she'll be remembered.

Every art class she taught saw a short video that showed 3,000 years of art set to music, at twelve images per second. It was called, reasonably enough, "3,000 Years of Art." Manda LaFleur explained, "a fully conscious, linear, ideation of the creative gestalt is unnecessary if imagery and sound combine to form a visceral appreciation."

I'm not quite sure what she meant, but I left her class more excited about art than I was when I started: and that film helped.

Manda believed that there was more to art class than helping students learn how to make melting letters and brightly-colored paisley patterns. "I wanted students to open their minds to new experiences, new images, new ways of looking at the world," she explained. "It doesn't matter if society labels them as artists, as long as they can reach inside themselves and draw out some of what they find."

Even so, some of her students did get labeled as artists, including interior designer Dillon Johnson and sculptor Andrea Nelson. About Nelson's four-foot mosquito, Manda would only say, "it's quite an appropriate display for that setting."

Manda LaFleur looks forward to an active retirement, becoming a more active member of the Asclepias Society and devoting more time to her own art, like this work: "Quiet Country Sunrise."

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