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Art connects us all

By Marcelo Espinoza

Staff Writer

Kalyn Olson teaches Introduction to Visual Arts for the Expeditions team at Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City. This is Ms. Olson’s third year teaching at Summit Prep, and she is enjoying her time there.

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Kalyn Olson, Visual Arts Teacher

  1. Out of any career, why choose art?

“Before I started teaching I used to work for an art gallery,” Ms.Olson said. “I loved getting to work with artists and seeing art being made, but my favorite part was teaching clients what the art is and the history behind it, and so teaching felt like the next great fit.”

2. What feeling do you get when creating art, and do these feelings help you create art or do they block you from creating anything?  

“I think creating art can be very relaxing and almost therapeutic for a lot of people,” Ms. Olson said. “It can also help you de-stress or expressing yourself in ways other than words, and it can help students build a habit of success so that art is not just a side project.”

3. What inspires/motivates you to do art in the first place, and how does this affect you today?

“I think I get inspired especially when creating projects for students by the artwork I see when going to museums or just by being outside in San Francisco and appreciating all the murals and art that is a part of the history of the city,” Ms. Olson said. “So when I see something, my mind starts racing with ideas of how to translate that to projects that students could do.”

4. Do you have any memories of when art was a huge deal in your life (before you got the job)?

“I was lucky enough to have art as a part of my history class when I was a high school student,” Ms. Olson said. “So it was a part of how we learned about political events and what was happening in the world, kind of everyday moments, so I think that is what set me off on a path to focus on art in college. I am super thankful that I had a teacher that thought art was important, and so that influenced me wanting to bring that to other schools and other students.”

5. Do you think art has a purpose in society? Why do you think that?

“Absolutely – I think that art has the power to give a voice to people who have been removed from a lot of community, political, countrywide decisions,” Ms.Olson said. “I also think that when we really look at the murals and the stories being told in the cities that we live in, mine in particular, San Francisco, you see the struggles, you see the sadness of lost loved ones and you also see the hopes and dreams people had of what the world could be, and I think when you see that in art it makes people move into action and stand up to injustice/inequality.”

  1. How big of an impact did art have in your life?

“I mean it’s kinda what we talked about as a part of Expeditions – if you find the intersection of things you’re good at, things that you can get paid to do, so you can have a lifestyle that allows you to do all the other things you want to do and challenges you and makes you feel like you’re contributing back something,” Ms. Olson said. “For me, it has been wonderful to have all those things matter; I feel so lucky to do my job. It is a lot of fun even on challenging days; I think I know it matters to somebody, and so that is why I like what I do.”

7. If art never became a part of your life, who would be?

“I studied economics when I was in college as well, so I might have been a boring investment banker or an accountant who works 80 hours a week,” Ms. Olson replied.

8. As an artist, how do you view life?

“I think that art has made me appreciate a lot of small things that I might have overlooked,” she said. “I think that going through units on landscapes and having students paint all of these beautiful pictures of where they have been, imagining where the could go,” she said. “It also makes me appreciate nature like the sunsets and trees, and I think it is easy to lose track of that if there was no art.”

9. When doing art, what message(s) do you put in your work?

“I don’t have a specific message,” Ms. Olson remarked.

10. When teaching art, what do you want people to learn from it?

“I want people to learn about themselves more than anything, because I feel like art gives you a way to express yourself and it gives you a different perspective of yourself than you have even seen before until you started doing it.”

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Andrea Tobar, a Visual Arts teaching assistant, helps the teacher in making a better art class for students. Tobar is the assistant of Ms. Olson, who teaches the Visual Arts class. 

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Andrea Tobar, a senior at Prep, is a Visual Arts teaching assistant during Expeditions.

  1. Why did you choose art as a potential career choice?

“I was pretty passionate about art but then I lost interest in it,” Tobar said. “But then I went on a trip to Ecuador, and so it rekindled my passion for art because I painted a wall, so when I came back to the U.S. I got an email from Ms. Olson I thought it was a perfect opportunity to be more involved with art.”

2. What feeling do you get when creating art, and do these feelings help you create art or do they block you from creating anything?  

“I feel very relaxed, and it takes my mind off of different things like school and other things going on,” Tobar said.

3. What inspire/motivates you to do art in the first place, and how does this affect you today?

“I think that a lot of people inspired me, and they express themselves through fashion, through makeup, through photography, through whatever form of art they like,” she said. “These people are very creative, and they inspire me to be creative as well.”

4. Do you have any memories of when art was a huge deal in your life (before you got the job)?

“I wouldn’t say it was a huge deal, but I was definitely more into art during my freshman year just because I use a lot of Tumblr and I see a lot of art on there,” Tobar said.

5. Do you think art has a purpose in society? Why do you think that?

“So we basically painted a mural for kids who were in need of extra assistance,” Tobar continued. “They had disabilities and stuff like that, and so me painting that mural had the power to make these kids look forward to their days at school. I think that art has that power in every school.”

6. How big of an impact did art have in your life?

“I think it was a pretty big impact because it just helps me de-stress, and a lot of people do comment ’cause I am really into photography. So a lot of people do comment on my photography skills, so I think it had a really big impact because it made me look forward to my days,” Tobar said.

7. If art never became a part of your life, who would be?

“I would be a boring person; I wouldn’t be creative; I wouldn’t try new things; and I wouldn’t be open to more things,” she continued. “I think art just makes me more of an outgoing person.”

8. As an artist, how do you view life?

“I view life as looking for beauty in every single person ’cause even if somebody isn’t the most attractive there is something inside of them that makes them beautiful,” Tobar said.

9. When doing art, what message(s) do you put in your work?

“If I am being honest, I don’t have a message,” she confessed. “I just see something pretty, and I take a picture of it.”

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Chloe Lee, another Visual Arts teaching assistant, also helps Ms. Olson in making a better art class for students.

 

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Chloe Lee, a junior at Prep, is a Visual Arts teaching assistant during Expeditions.

  1. Why art?

“I really liked the class in freshman year, thought it was really good opportunity to learn different elements of art,” Lee said. “So I got really excited when I got asked to be an assistant because I wanted to spread the art to other students.”

2. What feeling do you get when creating art, and do these feelings help you create art or do they block you from creating anything?  

“I think art is a really calming, especially when you have a lot of different things going on in your life,” Lee said. “Like studying, your job and other stuff.”

3. What inspires/motivates you to do art in the first place, and how does this affect you today?

“I get inspired a lot by my sister who is now into industrial designing and seeing her doing art and so in a way made myself be more creative,” Lee said.  

4. Do you have any memories of when art was a huge deal in your life (before you got the job)?

“I remember when I was in middle school my sister introduced me to anime and manga,” Lee said. “I got really addicted, so I started drawing like that, and I remember I would always be doodling all these weird anime characters. I don’t do it anymore, but I wish I still did.”

5. Do you think art has a purpose in society? Why do you think that?

“I think art is just a way to raise awareness for certain things. When I went to Guatemala, we painted a mural for a school because the walls were too boring so they asked us to make the school a lit bit more livelier,” Lee said. “I thought that was really cool.”

6. How big of an impact did art have in your life?

“I think art has impacted me pretty big because ever since I was a child I would watch Disney movies and seeing my dad take pictures has really inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and be more creative in everyday life, ” Lee said.  

7. If art never became a part of your life, who would be?

“I think I would be a lot less interesting; I think I would keep to myself more; and I wouldn’t be able to express as much, ” Lee said.

8. As an artist,, how do you view life?

“I think art showed me that life isn’t perfect but there are so many important parts of life that a lot of people don’t pay attention to, like natural beauty of things in how it is important to step back and appreciate what you have,” Lee said.

9. When doing art what message(s) do you put in your work?

I think I am still trying to find my message,” Lee said.

 

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