South Bend Museum of Art Education Blog

A Place Where Art Education is Discussed and Explored!

For Artists & Students

Janet Leazenby

Instructor of the Month!

By: Jennifer Talvensaari

If I walked into your Art classroom, what should I expect to see?

 People working in clay, tools in buckets, and mud up to your elbows!!

 Tell us about your teaching experiences.

  I have a Bachelor’s of Art Degree. I worked as an art teacher at Washington High School. I have been an instructor here at SMBA for 35 years.

Who is your favorite artist? And why?

  Toshiko Takaezu. Wow, check her out! She is a Japanese born ceramic artist.

 What is the best thing about being an instructor at the museum?

  The people/the art/the experience.

 Describe a struggle you have had as a art instructor.

 Having enough time for all the fun!!

 Do you have an art philosophy? If so, what is your philosophy about art?

 Hands on is the way to go. Just do it and have FUN!

 Why should I take your class at the South Bend Museum of Art?

 For a great learning experience.


Janet Leazenby teaches a series called “Pottery Lifestyle” Wednesday’s: 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Beginning and intermediate students will develop skills in both hand building and on the potter’s wheel.

In each class, a demonstration will be included along with glazing and surface design techniques. Individual help will be offered in our creative studio atmosphere.


Meet an SBMA Instructor!

Featured this Month: Birgit Scott

By: Jennifer Talvensaari

If I walked into your Art classroom, what should I expect to see?

We are fortunate to be able to hold our classes in the library where we sit in comfortable chairs around a large table. I bring the latest knitting magazines and a variety of knitting books to class besides yarns to use for practice and a supply of needles. I usually have knitted samples on hand to inspire students and I generally wear something I have designed and knitted myself.

 Tell us about your teaching experiences.

I am a foreign language teacher by profession- all levels from grade school through college and adult education. After I retired, I was thrilled to be able to teach my passion: knitting. I have given workshops at numerous knitting shops in several states, and have taught knitting classes at SBMA for about 10 years.

Who is your favorite artist? And why?


I have taken many classes at conventions around the country from famous, published designers. Elizabeth Zimmerman broke new ground in her approach to knitting, telling people to “loosen up” and not be so bound by the written word; Valentine Devine taught me free form knitting; Debbie New, Lucy Neatby, Lily Chin, Sally Melville, to name just a few, have inspired me to experiment in my medium: fiber.






What is the best thing about being an instructor at the museum?


That people there could see the “art” in what I do, and were receptive to new ideas: our “Trunk Show” (covering the trees out front in knitted cozies in 2008-09) for example.


 Describe a struggle you have had as an art instructor.


Overcoming some students’ perception that they can’t learn to knit, because they tried it once and didn’t succeed. However, most come in with a positive attitude, and it helps, too, that I teach the Continental method, which to many is easier than the American method.

Do you have an art philosophy? If so, what is your philosophy about art?


I try to demystify knitting. There is no wrong way to knit- if the outcome pleases you that is all that counts.


Why should I take your class at the South Bend Museum of Art?


We have fun. We have small classes and you get personal attention, no matter at what level you start. You get to choose your own project and you can get your yarn and needles anywhere you like. (I supply yarn for practice in class, until you know what you want to make and then help you decide on the appropriate yarn, if needed.) I share lots of tips and tricks and other info with you. We have offered a two for one class fee for some time, and it is a great idea to join with a friend.


 How did you get into art instruction?


I was always asked to help someone with his or her knitting. Being a volunteer at SBMA, I noticed that the fiber department had spinning and weaving instruction, but none in knitting, so I simply suggested it and was asked to develop a program. I’ve been teaching there ever since.



Birgit’s knitting class starts April 7! Come and see her Thursday’s: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.



Member Tuition: $54.40 + Class Fee $10 Non Member Tuition: $68 + Class Fee $10 (Class price includes you and a friend)



Whether you are a beginner or someone with a little more experience, join Birgit’s knitting group and move your knitting to a new level and learn more!

Meet an SBMA Instructor!

Featured this Month: Gundega Penikis

By: Jennifer Talvensaari

Gundega is a true gem.

One of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever had the opportunity to talk to and interact with. Gundega is a ceramics instructor here at SBMA and she LOVES her job, as you will find out!

If I walked into your art classroom, what should I expect to see?

Well…Ceramics! It is a very big room; lots of space. There are many large tables for my students to spread out and work on as well as numerous potter’s wheels. It’s a beautiful and well-equipped studio space.

Tell us about your teaching experiences?

I started at the museum when it was still located on Lafayette Street in downtown South Bend. I initially taught children’s classes. I also have experience with teaching the visually impaired, which was an amazing eye-opening experience both in terms of teaching and the relationship’s you cultivate as an art instructor. I believe one learns from one’s students just as much as the student’s learn from you.

Who is your favorite artist? And why?

Don Wright. He is a ceramics instructor at the University of Wisconsin. I saw him talk and give a demonstration at Notre Dame and I was sold. His teaching methods just blew my mind.

What is the best thing about being an instructor at the museum?

I meet all kinds of people. From young to old. It’s a community down there. I really get to know people for you they are as people and as artists. It’s a home away from home really.

Describe a struggle you have had as an art instructor?

I have learned patience. Hands down. Especially working in ceramics. You HAVE to have patience in order to produce the art, but also be calm and collected should anything go awry.

Do you have an art philosophy? And if so, what is it?

I believe that the different interests of your students require one on one teaching. Class should not be structured. It should be moldable just like the medium I am working in.

Why should I take your class at the South Bend Museum of Art?

It’s a good time! It’s also the only class offered in the morning. And I promise….if you want to learn I will teach you. No one gets left behind in my class!

Gundega teaches Thursday mornings from 9 am – Noon. If you are interested in signing up for a class visit for more information.

What You NEED to Know About ArtsEverywhere

By Jennifer Talvensaari

We all lead busy lives.

Sometimes it seems my life is planned out to the hour week-by-week. However, when I find myself with free time, as an artist and overall creative person, my first inclination is to look for something fun to do involving the arts.

Go to a movie.

See a play.

Visit an art gallery.

Listen to a poetry reading.

When I find those precious weekends where I have free time there is only one place I would visit to find activities to fill my time.

I visit is a web site that lists hundreds of local theater, dance, music, and visual art events and receives tens of thousands of hits a month. ArtsEverywhere also syndicates a full-color quarterly magazine that showcases local arts and artists, distributed through the South Bend Tribune, and has returned more than $500,000 to the community through grants that strengthen arts and culture (

When you visit the official website for ArtsEverywhere,, you will find yourself presented with endless art activities. As a visitor to the site, you can search for events, organizations, and/or venues regarding anything from theatre to dance, music, and art.  If you are looking for something in the art community for a particular weekend or date there is also a search by date option! You will never have a boring weekend at home with that available for you! On top of having a plethora of activities for you to observe and/or take part in, ArtsEverywhere also offers discount tickets for select programs/events/performances each week. Other featured sections on the website include reviews, artist profiles, classes and workshop listings, and event promotion submission section in case you yourself have an event you would like to list and get some publicity.

You can even find information about familiar places like the South Bend Museum of Art …they have been absolutely wonderful to us!

ArtsEverywhere is a great place to visit!

Take a Class! Meet a Staff Art Instructor

Featured this Month: David Lester Learn

by: Jennifer Talvensaari

If I walked into your classroom, what should I expect to see?

Chaos. A lot of interaction between myself and my students, as well as student-to-student interaction. I have a very small class in terms of the amount of students, so the over all energy is very relaxed. I have a very non-traditional teaching style. You won’t find me teaching by demonstration and expecting my students to follow in my example. It’s all about individual growth.

Tell us about your teaching philosophy

Well I’m not a “normal” teacher. I have taught at a college-level art institution, written art programs, worked with the disabled. However, I do not have a teaching degree. I come from a time when professional artists were valued more in the instruction of future artists. I teach my students from a real world perspective you can say.

Who is your favorite artist? And why?

I really don’t have one particular favorite. I appreciate work from all perspectives and disciplines.

What is the best thing about being an art instructor at the SBMA?

The liberty to do what I feel I need to do to teach my students. I don’t have to fall into that “art teacher” category.  I can think and teach my students to learn outside of the box that so many institutions require both faculty and students are required to be confined inside.

Describe a struggle you have had as an art instructor?

Everyday is a struggle. There is no formula that tells you how to teach. It’s all about adapting to the individual needs of every student you have.  I want to reach every student I have….I won’t allow myself to put any of my students in one category or place them under specific standards.

Why should I take your class at the SBMA?

If you desire to have a complete and healthy experience in the creative process you should take my class. If you crave openness and opening yourself to new ways of creative thinking….finding your natural creative rhythm…then you should take my class.

How did you get into art instruction?

A moment of insanity. Teaching was a happy accident. I was asked to substitute an art class as a favor from a friend until the return of the instructor form sabbatical. During that experience I was very surprised at the response from the students to my way of teaching. I found the students to be very to be very energetic and talented. I became infected with their positivity and will to learn. I loved it.

Take a Class! Meet a Staff Art Instructor

This week: Cathy McCormick

by Jennifer Talvensaari

Cathy McCormick


Landscapes in Soft Pastel


How to Start Drawing

1. If I walked into your art classroom, what should I expect to see?

In the pastels class, we use colorful dry pastels to create vibrant landscapes. In the drawing class, we use pencils to draw everything from still life to portraits.  Even beginners are surprised at how well they do.

2. Tell us about your teaching experience.

I have taught at SBMA since 2001. Before that I taught in Phoenix for 12 years.  I have given workshops around the area, and was resident artist at Prairie Vista Elementary School, Granger, 2004 and 2005.  As a docent for the Snite Museum at Notre Dame and at SBMA, I lead school tours of the museums. I started the Northern Indiana Pastel Society in 2006 and serve as president.

3. Who is your favorite artist and why?

Frank Virgil Dudley 1868 -1957 was known as the “Painter of the Dunes,” because of his fascination with the Indiana dunes on Lake Michigan.  His art helped preserve the dunes as park land. There are several Dudley paintings in the collection at the museum. He was from Delevan, Wisconsin, just a few miles from my hometown, Lake Geneva.

4. What is the best thing about being an instructor at the museum?

We have a beautiful setting on the St. Joseph River, and wonderful art in the museum to inspire us.

5. Describe a struggle you have had as an art instructor.

Often people do not know that pastel is a serious fine art medium. They think it is chalk. Actually, the pigments are the same as those in oil paints. Historically, pastels can be traced back to the 16th century and have been used by many famous artists: Delacroix, Manet, Renoir, Cassatt, Degas.

6. Do you have an art philosophy? If so, what is your philosophy about art?

My interest in the landscape began on Sunday drives though the Wisconsin countryside as a child. Today I paint landscapes as a tranquil counterpoint to our busy urban lifestyles.

7. Why should I take your class at the South Bend Museum of Art?

We have a good time, and part of the fun is the creative process that produces tangible results of our effort. It is rewarding and expressive. Most people say the time flies by.

8. How did you get into art instruction?

I got a teaching degree in art and English from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, but worked for newspapers in writing and design.  In 1986 I signed up for an evening watercolor class at an art center in Phoenix.  The class was cancelled so I got my second choice, the pastel class. Pastel turned out to be the best medium for me. I stayed in the class and took over teaching it a few years later. I have been teaching since. It has been a great learning experience.


Cathy teaches Tuesday nights from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the South Bend Museum of Art. For more infomation please visit

Google Art Project

What is the ‘Art Project’?

The “Art Project” website powered by Google is a unique collaboration with some of the world’s most acclaimed art museums to enable people to discover and re-discover their inner-artist by viewing thousands artworks online high quality detail.

You can explore museums with Street View technology: Virtually move around the museum’s galleries, select works of art that interest you, and navigate though interactive floor plans. Learning more about the museum as you explore.

Play with Artwork View: Discover featured artworks in High Definition! Use the viewer to zoom into paintings-while expanding the info panel allows you to read more about an artwork, find more works by that artist and even watch related YouTube videos!

You can create your own collection!: The ‘Create an Artwork Collection’ feature allows you to save specific views of any of the 1000+ pieces of art and build your own personalised collection. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends and family.

copyright goes to


Google Art Project

Arts Council of Indianapolis: Grants for Individual Artists

D. Beckmann, Jr. was a founding board member of the Arts Council of Indianapolis in 1987. He was an active arts advocate, patron, a performing and visual artist,as well as a community leader.  Upon his death in 2001, he bequeathed funds to the Arts Council for the creation of a fellowship program to support emerging artists of all disciplines in central Indiana.  It is through the lasting generosity of Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. that we offer this newest fellowship opportunity to emerging artists throughout central Indiana.

The Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship Program awards two $3,500 fellowships each year to qualified and talented artists in music, dance, theatre, literature, media and/or the visual arts.  The program consists of two distinct components. The first component, a monetary award in the amount of $3,500, will be awarded for supplies, instruction, workshops, studio or rehearsal space, or other uses specifically related to the growth and development of the artist’s artistic work. The second component of the program involves a unique professional experience opportunity to which many artists may not have access until later in their careers. The Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship program seeks to introduce and provide experiences, connections, and relationships with professional arts institutions and professional artists in central Indiana.

2011 Beckmann Emerging Artists Application

The application deadline for the 2011 Beckmann Fellowship has passed. Artists who submitted applications will be notified by the end of August, 2010. Artists who are interested in future rounds of the fellowship, the 2012 application will be available spring of 2011.

For more information, contact Shannon M Linker, Director of Artist Services at //

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

or 317-631-3301 ext. 236.

2010 Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellows:

Diane L. Lewis – poet

Emily Budd – sculptor

2009 Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellows:

Christina Block – musician

Cindy Hinant – installation artist

2008 Inaugural Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellows:

Kate Obereich – painter

Kyle Herrington – painter

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Who is an emerging artist?
For the purposes of this fellowship program, we define an emerging artist as an artist that shows exceptional promise, that has mastered the basic techniques in his/her art form, and is attempting to launch a professional career in the arts.  Quite simply, it is an artist who is professionally unrecognized but stylistically evolved.  Additional considerations of an emerging artist:

– An artist who has been working in or pursuing their field for at least one year, but no more than three years. This must not include time as a full-time student.

An artist who is not currently pursuing an undergraduate degree. Those artists pursuing an advanced degree while pursuing a professional artistic career are eligible.

Age of the artist is not a consideration. Individuals who are mid-career and have chosen to switch to an artistic pursuit in a professional capacity are eligible.

An artist who may have a “day job” at the time of application but can demonstrate that he/she is pursuing their art form as a full-time career.

2.  How are applicants evaluated?
Fellowships will be awarded to applicants who are actively pursuing professional careers in the arts. A panel of local arts professionals including administrative and creative leadership from major Indianapolis arts organizations as well as representatives from the Arts Council will adjudicate applications.  The recommendations from the panel go to the Arts Council Board of Directors for final approval.

Panelists make their decisions based on the application materials, work samples, attachments, and documentation.  Applicants will be evaluated according to the following:

–  Overall excellence of the applicant’s work and the demonstration of exceptional talent

–  Commitment to professional growth and the applicant’s art form

–  Contribution of the proposed activities to the artist’s career goals and artistic development

–  Feasibility of the proposed project, including timeline, budget, and scope of activities

3.  What are the eligibility requirements for this fellowship?

These are general eligibility requirements.  Each individual’s situation is different.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to make the case in the application for meeting the eligibility requirements.

–  You must currently reside in one of the following counties: Marion, Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Hancock, Johnson, or Shelby County.

–  You must be pursuing a professional career in the arts (in the fields of dance, theatre, media arts, music, literature, or visual arts) and must have been working in the arts for at least one year (not necessarily with the same art form).

–  You must reside in one of the counties listed above for at least two years following the conclusion of the fellowship activities.



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