Person of the Week
Andrea Aron Makes Art Her Life's Work
Andrea Aron taught art for 44 years and garnered awards for her enameling and jewelry making. Today, she advocates for the arts through the Future Choices program at the Shoreline Arts Alliance. (Photo by Maria Caulfield/The Source | Buy This Photo)
As a young girl in the Bronx, Andrea Aron had her first foray in art when she would open up her easel and paint with her father.
“I used to paint with him in the apartment in the Bronx, which is where I really started,” she says.
She never let go of that interest in art even when her family moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. In Cherry Hill High School, her love for art grew, along with another kind of love.
She met her future husband, Mark, when they sat beside each other in history class. They married a mere three days after graduating from college.
They have been married for close to 47 years and now reside in Madison. Together, they have two grown children, Ben, who lives in Massachusetts, and Allie, who is in California.
Andrea completed her B.A. in art education at Trenton State College, now called The College of New Jersey. During her college years, she nurtured her creativity as she continued to find ways to express her thoughts into two-dimensional works, such as drawings and paintings.
While she was on a work-study program for summer, she was tasked with an artistic mural of geometric forms that was larger in scope than any art work she had done previously.
“I had a project to do a mural and I worked at the school library as part of my work study program,” she explains.
“It was the elevator door and the wall around it. And then when the door opened, you also walked into this mural, so it was on all sides.”
Although the mural is no longer there following a renovation of the library, she considers the project a feather in her cap.
From Two- to Three- Dimensional Art
As she progressed in artistic creativity and technique, Andrea’s interest in art shifted from two-dimensional paintings to three-dimensional pieces in the form of pottery and jewelry making.
She completed her M.A. at Rhode Island School of Design, again in art education, but with a focus in jewelry, metalsmithing, and enameling.
She taught at Windham High School for about seven years followed by a three-year stint in California, teaching middle school art when she and Mark went to Fresno for him to pursue his PhD in clinical psychology.
“I went to Rhode Island School of Design for my master’s and that’s where I really focused on jewelry because I had been teaching jewelry at Windham High School. And when you’re an art teacher, you have to really know a lot of different subject areas,” she says. “So, I was teaching jewelry and I was teaching other fiber crafts, weaving, [and] ceramics, at Windham High School. But I just really enjoy working in jewelry and it became such a focus for me.”
She adds that at Windham High School, she started “to build up the programs because some of these high schools didn’t have jewelry programs.”
She also taught ceramics, jewelry, and metalsmithing at New London High School for 34 years. Her full-time art teaching career spans a total of 44 years.
Today, she teaches pottery, jewelry, and enameling as a part-time instructor at Wesleyan Potters.
She sees her students become fascinated with creating art similar to the way she fell in love with it.
“You’re creating something and it’s just your idea taking form. You have the idea in your head and you do the sketches. And it’s just a flat drawing, but then you bring it to life, and it’s more than just a piece of jewelry. It’s like sculpture,” she explains.
Andrea’s art has caught the attention of many, including art judges. Last September, she was named the Connecticut River Artisans Artist of the Month. She was also selected as a Connecticut Arts Hero for 2019 by the Connecticut Office of the Arts and as an Emerging Artist for the Guilford Art Expo for her enameling and jewelry work.
Advocating for the Arts
Andrea promotes the arts even in unconventional ways.
During her time as a teacher in New London, she took her class to a street where several businesses had closed. Together, they displayed art works in the windows of the shops.
“We called it the ‘drive-by gallery’ because you could drive right by it and see it. And they were big works of art, so it would really catch,” she says.
Today, she works to advocate for the arts at Shoreline Arts Alliance and spread the love of art among high schools in the area. Headed by Eric Dillner, the Shoreline Arts Alliance serves thousands of creative, performing, and visual artists annually through a variety of arts programs and awards.
Andrea is the volunteer coordinator for Shoreline Arts Alliance and the chairman of the alliance’s Future Choices, an art program that provides young visual artists with scholarships and the opportunity to exhibit their work.
Last year, the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford awarded Shoreline Arts Alliance $1.74 million in scholarship monies for 21 high school juniors and seniors whose works were chosen for the Future Choices visual art competition and exhibition.
Despite scholarships like that awarded by the University of Hartford, Andrea’s work is cut out for her.
She is dismayed to find out that some schools have been taking art out of their education programs.
“I’m going to these schools now for Future Choices,” she says. “And I’m finding that this is happening more. They’re cutting art, even more so than before.”
“I feel that it’s so important to reach out and, any way I can, remind people of how important it is for the total development of their child to be able to be creative and to be able to express themselves and feel good about what they’re doing,” she adds.
She sees the arts as the portion that completes a person’s education, the “A” in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) program that she feels is so essential.
In her own life, she regards art as a vital part, a nurturing piece that helps her grow and become a better person.
“Oh, it just feeds my soul. I don’t know how to say this in any other way. But it feeds my soul to create the work, and also to teach others,” she explains.
“It’s like an integral part of myself,” she adds. “I can’t ever see myself not creating art of one form or another, but especially metals and jewelry. And I see what it’s done for me. So it’s always been a part of my teaching to hope that others would feel the same way.”
For more information about the Shoreline Arts Alliance and its upcoming Mardi Gras Gala where Andrea will be honored, visit www.shorelinearts.org.
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