Art Beyond the Classroom
A Teacher's Love for Art Inspires Her Students
by Nicola Burnell
Bernadette at an exhibition of her students' artwork
Bernadette Waystack showed promise as an artist in second grade, winning the "Saint Luke Award" at an art exhibit at Boston College.
Twelve years in a Boston Catholic school, however, did not nurture her talents. "I went dormant," says the Harwich art teacher. "When I compare my middle school years to what my students have, I can't help wondering how differently my own art path might have been."
With a B.F.A. from UMASS Amherst, Bernadette dedicated her career to teaching art. An advocate for arts education, she appreciates the fact that Harwich students are required to take visual arts from Kindergarten through eighth grade.
"I tell my students that they need to know what an important place they have in the history of modern art. Many of them don't realize what the legacy of art on the Cape truly is. It's their birthright as citizens of this place."
In 2008, the teacher became a student again when she embarked upon a Masters program at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). "I received a Masters in painting, carrying courses online while teaching full time, and spending three summers in Savannah doing my studio work."
Bernadette's passion for the arts has spilled into her classroom. For the past seven years, with support from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Harwich Cultural Council and Cape Cod 5, she has collaborated with Chris McCarthy and Lynn Stanley at PAAM to bring her entire crew of eighth graders to the Provincetown museum to experience hands-on art and direct meetings with contemporary working artists.
With a background in quilts and pastels, Bernadette had fun interpreting a Fritz Bultman's collage in fabric for PAAM's Student and Educator Curating Program.
Night Enters the Water interpretation
The original, Night Enters the Water, which is part of PAAM's collection, is one of a group of pieces they selected for this year's exhibit," she explains. "I had my students in 5th, 6th and 7th Grade do interpretations of pieces of their choice and 3 of them plus mine will be in the 20th Anniversary Exhibition. I am constantly amazed each year at the superb work they produce. They are deeply invested in what they do because they choose it and it's phenomenal."
Morning Marshlight, pastel
Primarily a landscape artist, Bernadette is especially drawn to the tidal marshes and wide open spaces near the coast. While she used to work exclusively in pastel, her recent work shows a shift in perspective and medium.
"I am deeply influenced by the rituals, traditions and culture of my Catholic upbringing and still have a strong faith and spirituality that deeply impacts my work. I studied Italian Renaissance art heavily in college and these connections have re-emerged strongly in my newer work since SCAD.
Noontime Haze, oil on panel with acrylic
She now works predominantly in oil on panels that she builds herself. "I translate the contemporary landscape into icons that reference ecclesiastical art, as in Noontime Haze. In this way I co-create with and pay homage to the Divine in relationship with nature and humanity."
The Labyrinth Walk, oil on panel with acrylic
Some of her larger panels refer back to the Renaissance style of "tondo", circles in a square, that symbolize the Divine (circle) and square (man), as seen in The Labyrinth Walk.
Bernadette finds inspiration in the landscape works of Philip Koch and Ross Moffett, who is part of the legacy of the Provincetown Art Colony. A self-taught student of the Colony's history, she developed a curriculum for her eighth graders that honors the artistic ties that go back generations. "I love the fact that I am still able to walk around and be where Hawthorne, Lazzell and Motherwell were, and do what they did."
Even though she is not a figurative artist, Selina Trieff and Heather Blume have both had an impact on her as a contemporary artist. "Heather, having been there before me, gave me some great support and encouragement when I was struggling to get through graduate school. I've enjoyed workshops with her and she's also been greatly supportive of my program with my eighth graders."
|Support | Classes | Events | Contact Us | About Us | Feedback | Letters to Editor | Advertise | Submission Guidelines | CWO Events | CWO Classes|