New face at the National Gallery

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands welcomes Jessica Wallace to its fold, the Gallery’s new education coordinator. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull hears what Jessica has planned when it comes to arts education in Cayman.

 As a three year veteran art teacher at St Ignatius School (teaching both junior and high school students), Jessica Wallace has grown to appreciate the needs of young people when it comes to the visual arts. In particular, Jessica says young people need the freedom to express themselves without fear of making a mistake.
 
“During my time at St Ignatius I had a wonderful time opening the students up to the creativity and freedom that art can give an individual,” she says. “I felt it was my job to inspire and facilitate the growth and ability of each student and give them a chance to express their imagination and blossom.”
 
Jessica says it has been her experience that students are often afraid in art class in case they make a wrong move so it has been a freeing experience to let students get used to the idea of using art to express their emotions and opinions and let their art speak for them.
 
“I found that students had a strong technical grasp of art, for example they knew the principles of design. I basically teach the tools of expression. Students need a safe environment within which they can explore their own creativity, so they can produce something unique to themselves.”
 
Most importantly, Jessica teaches that there is no such thing as mistakes in art. “Mistakes,” she says, “turn into a brand new adventure! I wanted the students to learn to love art.”
Jessica taught art in a variety of different mediums, including painting, pottery, print making, papier maché, jewellery making and even fashion design.
 
“Having taught initially in schools in Canada where resources were not as forthcoming as at St Ignatius, I was delighted to have the opportunity to be given the tools that could be shared with the students. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to the see the students develop their potential.”
 
Sadly, as from September, St Ignatius has decided to discontinue the post of art teacher at the junior site and Jessica therefore feels it is her mission, as Education Co-ordinator at the National Gallery, to assist class room teachers island-wide and not just at her previous school, with the development of teaching the visual arts.
 
“I will be available to fill the gap when perhaps cost constraints mean that full-time art teachers are not viable options,” she says. “I hope to assist regular classroom teachers at all schools to incorporate art into every aspect of the curriculum. I started my career as classroom teacher and have always found the need to teach visually.”
 
Having already put out feelers with teachers across the island, Jessica says she has received tremendous support for her project.
 
“I think some teachers are afraid of art, for fear that the lesson might descend into a chaotic mess, however I hope to be able to teach them that students can easily learn art in a safe, happy and still creative environment,” she adds.
 
Jessica says that she has two initial missions in her new role – to learn as much as possible about the National Gallery and how her services can complement existing work being carried out. She also wants to create a database of lesson plans from schools throughout Cayman, creating a pivotal link for art education.
 
She also anticipates that her job as art educator will extend to adults as well as children and very much looks forward to expanding the existing Outreach programmes.
 
“The National Gallery currently does a fantastic job bringing art to many different sections of the public. I want to build on this further so the National Gallery can become accessible to anyone in Cayman who is interested in expanding their knowledge of the visual arts,” she says.
 
Jessica sums up by saying that she is keen to expose as many people as possible to art and to open up minds into realising that art can also become a career for individuals in many different ways.
 
“It’s not just about lifelong learning, as rewarding as that is,” she explains. “You can turn that passion into an incredibly satisfying career as well!” As a three year veteran art teacher at St Ignatius School (teaching both junior and high school students), Jessica Wallace has grown to appreciate the needs of young people when it comes to the visual arts. In particular, Jessica says young people need the freedom to express themselves without fear of making a mistake.
 
“During my time at St Ignatius I had a wonderful time opening the students up to the creativity and freedom that art can give an individual,” she says. “I felt it was my job to inspire and facilitate the growth and ability of each student and give them a chance to express their imagination and blossom.”
 
Jessica says it has been her experience that students are often afraid in art class in case they make a wrong move so it has been a freeing experience to let students get used to the idea of using art to express their emotions and opinions and let their art speak for them.
 
“I found that students had a strong technical grasp of art, for example they knew the principles of design. I basically teach the tools of expression. Students need a safe environment within which they can explore their own creativity, so they can produce something unique to themselves.”
 
Most importantly, Jessica teaches that there is no such thing as mistakes in art. “Mistakes,” she says, “turn into a brand new adventure! I wanted the students to learn to love art.”
Jessica taught art in a variety of different mediums, including painting, pottery, print making, papier maché, jewellery making and even fashion design.
 
“Having taught initially in schools in Canada where resources were not as forthcoming as at St Ignatius, I was delighted to have the opportunity to be given the tools that could be shared with the students. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to the see the students develop their potential.”
 
Sadly, as from September, St Ignatius has decided to discontinue the post of art teacher at the junior site and Jessica therefore feels it is her mission, as Education Co-ordinator at the National Gallery, to assist class room teachers island-wide and not just at her previous school, with the development of teaching the visual arts.
 
“I will be available to fill the gap when perhaps cost constraints mean that full-time art teachers are not viable options,” she says. “I hope to assist regular classroom teachers at all schools to incorporate art into every aspect of the curriculum. I started my career as classroom teacher and have always found the need to teach visually.”
 
Having already put out feelers with teachers across the island, Jessica says she has received tremendous support for her project.
 
“I think some teachers are afraid of art, for fear that the lesson might descend into a chaotic mess, however I hope to be able to teach them that students can easily learn art in a safe, happy and still creative environment,” she adds.
 
Jessica says that she has two initial missions in her new role – to learn as much as possible about the National Gallery and how her services can complement existing work being carried out. She also wants to create a database of lesson plans from schools throughout Cayman, creating a pivotal link for art education.
 
She also anticipates that her job as art educator will extend to adults as well as children and very much looks forward to expanding the existing Outreach programmes.
 
“The National Gallery currently does a fantastic job bringing art to many different sections of the public. I want to build on this further so the National Gallery can become accessible to anyone in Cayman who is interested in expanding their knowledge of the visual arts,” she says.
 
Jessica sums up by saying that she is keen to expose as many people as possible to art and to open up minds into realising that art can also become a career for individuals in many different ways.
 
“It’s not just about lifelong learning, as rewarding as that is,” she explains. “You can turn that passion into an incredibly satisfying career as well!”

New-face-at-the-National-Gallery

Jessica Wallace

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