Artist/Middle School Teacher Sarah Suplina
Artist and Middle School Art Teacher Sarah Suplina is from Westchester, New York. She received her Master of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and her undergraduate degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga, New York. Sarah also has her Masters in Education from Pace University in Pleasantville, New York.
Sarah has been in the art field for over 25 years. Her career began in NYC as a graphic designer and then later earned her degree and certification in Art Education. No matter the focus of her career, Sarah’s own art has always been a part of her life. Sarah displays and sells her artwork all over Westchester and Fairfield County.
When Sarah is not teaching or creating, she loves spending time with her family, hiking & running, and visiting NYC for the art scene and culinary treats.
How do you balance art making and art teaching?
Teaching is a “giving” profession. I give a lot to my students and find myself exhausted at the end of the day. I have learned that the best way for me to recharge my batteries and keep my enthusiasm for teaching is by creating my own art. I try to carve out time every week to focus just on my own work. With a family and other responsibilities, this is not always easy. However, I am fortunate that I have small studio in my house, where I can leave a “work-in-progress”. This enables me to jump right into my project when I do have the time.
You have two master’s degrees, an MFA from Pratt Institute and a MEd from Pace University. What made you decide to do both?
I earned my MFA first and many years ago. It was one of the best decisions I made. I was working in NYC as a graphic designer before I even graduated! The work was fast paced and very rewarding. As the years went on and my family grew, I decided I wanted a career, which would enable more time with my family and work with kids. I first started teaching at local Art Centers and I found the work very rewarding. I had a knack for creating art projects with which children could both learn from and get excited about. At that time, I made the huge decision to go back to school to earn my Masters in Education. It was not easy, with three school-aged children of my own, but was well worth the effort.
Has teaching changed the way you make art?
YES! In teaching, I am always looking for new projects, new materials, new ways to engage my students. This has spread to my own work. My work is always changing and improving. I’ve learned to be more daring and try new things in my own work because I want that of my students.
How has your own art influenced the way you teach?
Since I love collage and paper work, I always have one or two paper collage projects per year for my students. Just this past year, 200 seventh graders made a Shoebox Village for the front lobby of the school. The installation came out wonderfully! The students turned their individual shoebox into a home or village cutting and layering paper. The project was a huge success for them and the school, as over 2,000 students, faculty, and visitors enjoyed it.
What advice would you give to a brand new teacher who wants to be an artist as well?
I would advise that any new (or old) teacher to make a real effort to keep his or her own art interest alive. I would encourage them to try to sketch or paint, even if just on breaks and summers. Teaching can take a lot out of people and it can be easy to lose your own artistic voice. I think it’s really important to have and keep your own artistic voice and ideas. My own artwork makes me a better teacher, and teaching makes me a better artist.