Teachers’ Artwork Featured in Pearl Fincher Showcase

On a wooden pier lining a Venetian canal, art teacher Mike Hall crouched down into the crisp summer air to snap a photo of a native Italian softly rowing his gondola down the river. Months later and 5,000 miles away, the photo would be exhibited in a museum warped and discolored to Hall’s delight.

The artwork of Hall and 33 other district art teachers debuted at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts on Sept. 8 in the first ever Klein ISD Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition.

Among the pieces featured in the showcase was a ceramic teapot sculpted by art teacher Ramona Britt.

“When I was a faculty member in Spring Branch, we used to have an art teacher show every year,” Britt said. “As a matter of fact, my teapot was featured in the last exhibition in the [Williams] tower, so I was really excited about the opportunity to let it be displayed again and hoped that some of my students might go and look at what their art teachers can do.”

After being awarded a Funds for Teachers grant that allowed him to travel to Venice over the summer, Hall said he utilized the techniques he learned in Italy to create the piece now featured in the exhibition.

“My artwork is a mixed-media piece,” Hall said. “It’s a photograph I took in Venice with paper marbling in the background. My wife and I spent about four hours one day with a private artist named Alberto Balese who taught us how to paper marble. I had been practicing this marbling stuff, so I thought I’d try something new and feature it in the showcase to show photography students how they could incorporate paper marbling to frame their artwork.”

Pearl Fincher also hosts a yearly student artwork competition open to any student in the district.

“Several years ago Pearl Fincher started asking the Klein district to submit student work for their student contest,” Britt said. “There was little participation. Over the last couple of years it’s gotten a little bit more interesting as our coordinator has made it a mandatory entry, so that really stepped up the participations for students, and Pearl Fincher asked if the teachers would like to do it as well.”

Opportunities for visual arts teachers to exhibit their work, according to Britt, are sparse.

“You can submit work professionally if you have the time, but there [are] not a lot of opportunities,” Britt said. “A lot of us don’t have the time. There are some people who do, but it’s hard to juggle being an art teacher as well as a successful artist at the same time. Our coordinator and our director really wanted the exhibit to be a thing that Pearl Fincher allowed us to do because we haven’t had much exposure.”