A core tenet of my art and teaching practice was solidified at Marywood:
make art that has meaning.
—Sister Lisa, IHM
On a recent school day, Marywood’s inimitable Sister Cor popped into my classroom while giving a tour of our Art Department facilities to fellow Sister Lisa M. Perkowski, IHM. After a quick introduction, I learned that Sister Lisa works as an art teacher down in Florida and that she’s a Marywood Art Department alum. Here’s her alumni success story!
Sister Lisa M. Perkowski, IHM
Graduation Year/Major: B.A. Art Education, Minor in Music, 2004,
M.A. Art Education, Maryland Institute College of Art
Links: Portfolio: https://lmperkowski.portfoliobox.net/
About my vocation as an IHM sister: https://anunslife.org/vocation-stories/sister-lisa-perkowski-ihm
Marywood Clubs/Activities: Marywood Orchestra, Music Ministry, Zeta Omicron, Zeta Phi Delta
Current Occupation: High School Visual Arts Teacher and Fine Arts department head at Academy of the Holy Names, for the past 6 years
What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood?
Marywood had everything I could hope for in a small school environment. I enjoyed the core liberal arts curriculum, opportunities to continue growing in my faith alongside others and to volunteer in the NEPA community, all while developing my artistic interests. If I wasn’t working in the art building, I could be found in Campus Ministry helping plan a retreat, or in the music building practicing my violin.
How did your art education at Marywood help your career?
Marywood’s art department provided a strong breadth in all the studio courses I could possibly need to teach in K-12 art settings. While design and drawing classes are common foundations to teach in school settings, the darkroom photography and graphic design courses certainly helped me present a marketable skill set as a teacher. I’ve been able to advise students in digitally designing engaging yearbooks, and to teach courses such as AP Studio Art and AP Art History. Most importantly, my experiences at Marywood nurtured my love for the arts, and again being in a faith-based environment, I felt comfortable integrating my spirituality into my art and even curriculum planning. A core tenet of my art and teaching practice was solidified at Marywood: make art that has meaning.
Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different?
As a college student, I didn’t have a long-term vision of my career, but I’m really satisfied with the journey thus far. I’ve developed arts programming at Mother Seton Academy where I could nurture middle school students of inner-city Baltimore with the arts. I’ve also been a part of the expansion of arts programming and opening of a new arts center at Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, Florida. There, we offer so many opportunities for young women to become confident and talented leaders, who understand service and justice. I have found my art teaching practice very fulfilling.
Considering what’s different, I never thought I’d have an article published; “Processing Film, Processing Meaning”, an article based on my master’s thesis was printed in Art Education in May 2015. The other thing is that I would’ve never known how much technology would shape education and how much I use it! Planning, grading, and communications are all done through the computer and online apps, such as Google Classroom. There are so many awesome art resources online for students, such as Kahn Academy, The Art Story, Lynda.com, and numerous museum sites.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
While I love planning new project units for my students, the best part is interacting with them and guiding them in their creative process. Discussing ideas, sharing artist references, and helping them discover and strengthen their artistic voice through material choices is so significant. I love rejoicing with them when they have their ‘aha’ moment and when they find the joy in the results of hard work.
What is your favorite software program for design and why?
Since I work at a school that is big on technology, I have had the opportunity to use several of Adobe’s mobile apps on an iPad Pro. Adobe Draw is a lot of fun to achieve the ‘vector look’. Photoshop Mix is a great way to make quick digital collages as ideations or references for drawings and paintings. Since I teach digital imaging and yearbook, Photoshop and InDesign are must haves.
Any advice for current art students at Marywood?
My advice is: Run with those moments of inspiration. Spend late nights in the studios. Take ownership of your learning and studio practice by researching artists and ideas to inform your projects.
I share a favorite quote from Abraham Heschel I found during my time at Marywood: “Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.”
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