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Get to Know Your Visual Arts Faculty: Susan Greenstein

We want to introduce you to the Visual Arts Faculty as the year is getting going. 

Enjoy this peak into who makes the great Art Department at BFS!

1. What classes do you teach?
I teach Lower School Art K-4th grade.

2. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to Pratt Institute to study Painting and Drawing. Although I had thought of myself as an artist from very early on, one of the best things that happened to me at Pratt was that my vision of being an artist was confirmed and intensified. I also went to Queens College for graduate school to study Art Education.


3. What events led to you becoming an art teacher and/or choosing to teach art to kids? 

Well, I went back to school to get my degree in Art Education very soon after I had graduated from Pratt. When I finished attending the Art Education Program, I got a job teaching art to middle schoolers. I was very young and had not quite developed my teaching philosophy at this point. I did this for a few years, but it was not the right time in my life to develop myself as a teacher yet. I discovered that I enjoyed illustrating magazines and children’s books. I did this for about 10 years. But in the back of my mind, the interest in teaching again was growing. Towards the end of my illustrating career my husband and I had our daughter, Gina. Most likely, watching her grow reignited my love for working with children. I found work in a wonderful program called Studio in a School, and I learned an incredible amount while working with this organization. I discovered that I really enjoyed working with younger children. I also met some of the most talented artists and teaching artists that I’ve known. I enjoyed working with them in several schools for about 12 years. When the opportunity to work at Brooklyn Friends opened up, I applied. I had taught at a few Summer Arts sessions at BFS, and I had fallen in love with the school. When I was hired as the Lower School art teacher, I felt like I had truly found my home. I feel like I work with some of the most amazingly kind, talented and inspiring people around!

4.  What interests you in your own artistic practice?

I have been painting and drawing since I was very little. I think I began to take myself seriously as an artist when I was in middle school. About 25 years ago, I discovered that I love to paint, with watercolors on site and from observation. I never tire of observing light and shadow and the play between both. In the last few years I have discovered that I love printmaking and ceramics. I try to draw almost every day. Sometimes, if a few days go by and I haven’t drawn, I begin to feel like something important is missing (big time!). One of the things I love most about being an artist is that just as I think I’ve figured something out and that I’ve mastered some form of art, new questions humble me and I become hungry to know more.

5. Who or what have been your biggest influences in life?

My parents have been a great influence on me. They were committed to working towards social and political justice and taught me to look at things from more than one perspective. I learned a lot from them. They also always supported and encouraged my love for being an artist.


6. Who are your favorite artists?
Oh boy! This list is long! I’ll list a few: Van Gogh, Seurat (his drawings), Morandi, Sargent, (his watercolors), Emile Nolde (his watercolors), Rothko, Matisse, Rivera, El Anatsui, Andy Goldsworthy, Alice Neel, Voullard, Martin Puryear, Kathe Kollwitz, Rembrandt, Wolf Khan, Paul Klee and textile artists from all corners of the earth.

 7. Tell us a non-art-teacher talent that you have?
 My Downward Facing Dog isn’t bad!

8. What does a day off look like for you?
Waking up a little later than during the week. Having a leisurely breakfast. Doing a few errands, catching up on e-mails. Painting with my husband, spending time with my daughter, Gina, if she’s around, catching a movie and trying out a new restaurant or a tried and true favorite.

9. What is your favorite lesson/project/concept that you like to teach?

I think my favorite project or type of art that I love to teach is anything having to do with printmaking. Also, I love working on projects that invite many people in the BFS community to participate. That’s one of my biggest and most enjoyable challenges.

10. What do you love about teaching art at BFS?

I love how enthusiastic the kids are at BFS when they come to art. This always inspires me and gets me excited about what we will be working on together. I also appreciate how responsive the BFS community is towards all the art that is displayed. That is very special to me!

Bonus! if you were stuck on a dessert
island, what 3 things would you bring?
 
Some paints, some good chocolate, a long, long novel.