Art instructors from Worthington Schools are hoping to showcase their skills outside the classroom with an exhibit at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington.

On display through March 17 in the main gallery at the MAC, 777 Evening St., the exhibit features a variety of work from teachers Aleine Burke, Erin Johnson, Kim Maurer, Alan Spencer, Sue Swihart and Julie Woodrow, all of whom are accomplished artists.

Johnson, Maurer and Woodrow said being able to show their work at the MAC is special because they were students at Worthington Schools when the center still was being used as the annex for art classes. The MAC is adjacent to Thomas Worthington High School, 300 W. Dublin-Granville Road.

"This is where I had drawing and painting. ... I learned how to airbrush in the men's restroom," said Johnson, who has taught metal working at Thomas Worthington for 13 years.

Johnson, who has several metal spoons and pieces featuring various jewels on display, said many of her works are personal.

She said several pieces representing motherhood and family, as well as her extensive travels. She said she has taught in Japan, Malta and the Marshall Islands.

Woodrow, who has taught everything from beginning ceramics and general art to Advanced Placement studio classes at Worthington Kilbourne High School for 25 years, said the show has been in the works for a few years.

She said the teachers were not sure when it would happen because of the change in directors. Director Katie Kramer replaced the MAC's first director, Jon Cook, in January after he retired in December.

Woodrow, who is a ceramic artist, said teaching influences her work.

"There's no separation between teaching and my art work," she said.

Woodrow, who creates colorful ceramic artwork depicting animals and a variety of other subjects, said she "has a strange range" when it comes to her style. She said she always is creating new pieces.

Swihart, who teaches digital media at Worthington Kilbourne and drawing, painting and foundations at McCord Middle School, said being around students has allowed her to become more creative.

"My artwork has become a little bit more free," she said.

Swihart, who normally works with watercolors and pen and ink, said her artwork on display used cardboard. She said she started experimenting with cardboard as an art form because she loves it and finds working with it fun.

"It's just a love of the medium," she said.

She said one of her favorite things about using cardboard is the ability to make plays on words with the packaging.

Swihart said that element of fun is something she tries to pass along to her students, especially at the middle school level.

"These kids are not going to be Picasso; they just want to have fun," she said.

Maurer, who teaches drawing, painting and AP studio at Thomas Worthington, said it is common for art teachers in central Ohio also to be working artists.

Maurer, who works with encaustic painting, which involves heating wax and adding pigments to it, said much of her work depicts the contrast between earth and sky.

She said she also likes to add underlying elements to her pieces, such as maps of Columbus, which often are hidden beneath the work.

"It's such a luscious, obstinate and beautiful art form," Maurer said.

Alan Spencer, who teaches at Thomas Worthington, worked as a geologist for five years before teaching and pursuing art.

Spencer's ceramics often showcase geological concepts, such as fossils and types of rock layers, through the variation of textures.

He said being a working artist allows him to help students in a realistic way with the struggles all artists face.

Burke, who teaches drawing, painting, AP studio and ceramics at Worthington Kilbourne, said teaching such a variety of classes has encouraged her to try different forms and experiment with her art. She said it is similar to the way her students constantly are experiencing new things.

"We're sort of going through the learning process together," she said.

Burke said her work mostly focuses on contrasting themes, such as the difference between manmade items and naturally occurring things.

"It's really more experimental," she said.

Burke said she often thinks about how the forms of her artwork relate to each other and how all her pieces influence each other.

Kramer said the teachers' show is one of her first after starting as director in January, and it set a foundation for her.

"This used to be a school building," she said. "This is why this building is so important."

Admission to the MAC and the exhibit in the main gallery is free. For information about the MAC or to see a list of upcoming shows, go to mcconnellarts.org.

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