OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma educators and artists journeyed to the Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center in October for hands-on training at the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute (OFAI), a series of intensive weekend workshops taught by nationally renowned artists in the literary, visual, and performing arts. In conjunction with acceptance, Edmond-area public educators received full scholarships to the program.

The following Edmond-area educators attended OFAI: Hannah Hale, Amy Thomas, Cross Timbers Elementary School; Dianna Clark, Central Middle School; Rachel Radcliff, Chisholm Elementary School; Lacy Gustafson, Deer Creek Elementary School; Gena Beeson, Deer Creek High School; Leah McDonald, Heritage Elementary School; Madeline Romano, Ida Freeman Elementary School; Bert Bishop, Luther High School; and Beth Bryan, Bobbi Jackson and Vicki Keller, Sequoyah Middle School.

Since 1983, the Oklahoma Arts Institute has connected Oklahoma teachers with some of the nation’s leading artists, offering professional development and valuable training for educators to take back to their classrooms across the state. Other artists also seize this opportunity to sharpen their skills, or learn new ones altogether, in an immersive environment with innovators in their fields. 

“OFAI provides well-rounded, art-centered professional development that benefits our educators and students,” Gustafson said. “Each year that I attend, I bring back new knowledge and countless ideas that enrich the art education of my young artists.”

The workshops are geared to a variety of interests and teaching backgrounds. This year, participants chose from classes in photography, printmaking, painting, creative nonfiction, drawing and more. Educators also learned techniques for implementing visual arts in the elementary classroom, Orff instruction for students of all ages, and elements of writing for young readers. 

Those who came to study acrylic painting studied with internationally renowned American expressionist Bert Seabourn. Seabourn’s work is highly regarded domestically and internationally, and can be seen exhibited at the Vatican Museums, China’s National Palace Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art, and many more.

Throughout the workshops, participants also enjoyed electives in yoga, screen printing, tai chi, photographing artwork, hiking, and more. 

“Opportunities for educators to participate in professional development in the arts are few and far between,” said Julie Cohen, Oklahoma Arts Institute President & CEO. “The educators who participate in the Fall Arts Institute are extremely appreciative of this opportunity to hone their skills and expand their horizons.”

Every year, the Oklahoma Arts Institute reaches over 50,000 Oklahoma school children through their teachers' attendance at OFAI. Oklahoma public school educators automatically receive full scholarships to attend OFAI, which include tuition, room, and board. Edmond-area educator scholarships are made possible through funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the following donors: Albers Family Fund, BancFirst Charitable Foundation, E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, and The Raymond and Bessie Kravis Foundation. Additional program support is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Next summer, Oklahoma high school students can also study with the nation’s top artists at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, held June 8-23, 2019. Auditions for this prestigious program begin in January at locations across the state, and every accepted student receives a scholarship to the program. More information is available at oaiquartz.org. The Oklahoma Arts Institute is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1977, with a mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts.