Best Art Instruction | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Best Art Instruction

A Q&A with Marlene Alexander

Artist and curator, Marlene Alexander, has been teaching children art in Central Oregon for 37 years. She recently shared about how the program began and what kinds of art she teaches today.

click to enlarge Best Art Instruction
Maile Mason

How did you get started teaching art to kids?

It came up one day when a group of us (former members of Art in Public Places) were sitting around talking about our kids. They asked me if I ever considered starting a children’s art class. While I was thinking about it, I happened upon this little book written for the Museum of Modern Art in New York on teaching art to kids. The author taught at the Metropolitan Museum. I thought, “I am her. And I want to meet this woman.” So, I flew to New York, and I met with her every day for six days. She even mailed me a package with her thoughts on creativity for children. That became my program.

What ages do you teach?

It varies every year. I have taught two- and three-year-olds, but right now, it’s five to 14. Almost every year, some of my older students come back as assistants. They’re wonderful with the kids because they enjoyed it so much themselves.

About what kinds of art do the kids learn?

We do art history, clay, glass fusing, drawing, painting, jewelry, a little of everything. It’s not about technique so much as expressing themselves through art.

Were your classes affected by the pandemic?

When the pandemic started, I stopped classes for about three months. We started up again after I had plexi-cubbies built in and a new air purifier and we all wore masks. The kids are so good about wearing them and washing their hands, I don’t even have to tell them anymore. This is my passion. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to the kids, so I couldn’t wait to get back.

Is there currently space available for new students?

I don’t really have any spaces available right now. With the cubbies (for social distancing), I only take eight per class, but parents can email me to be placed on a waiting list.

Marlene Alexander
[email protected]
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