We interviewed Angie Steinke, whom many parents will know as TDA’s gifted Pre-K teacher who has combined the investment of past years’ teachers with her own unique skill-set to develop a wonderful educational experience for our 3-4 year olds. But there is so much more!
Angie first served as a Teacher Assistant at TDA but then became our primary elementary and secondary Art Teacher. She has for years, blessed our school beyond description, with her talents, love for each individual and ability to see beyond the ordinary. Anybody who has walked our hallways with eyes and hearts open will be deeply impacted by the creativity of our own TDA students; inspired, called forth, and encouraged by Mrs. Steinke. Following is a heartwarming and uplifting look into the heart of God and the heart of our amazing Art teacher; it shows the why and the how behind the beautiful art our students create! We love you Mrs. Steinke!
This post is longer than our usual ones, but we promise, it will be worthwhile!
When did you develop your love for art?
I have always loved art. However in grade school, we rarely did it. We did a lot of coloring. I always broke my crayons from pressing too hard. Other girls seemed to have a more pastel touch than me. So I didn’t think I was a good artist. Coloring with my mom was so special. She would draw bunnies and rocks and streams as if she was telling a story with her drawings. She taught us all to love nature and to watch for animals. We learned to pay attention from a young age.
High school art was the best! My art teachers saw something in me that I didn’t. They entered some of my work in an all-city contest in which I received second prize. I was also chosen to show some of my pottery in an all-city show. They taught me well, and believed in me, and it surprised me that I was being recognized in this way. By the time I was in my senior year, I had finished all my required classes and filled my schedule with art classes. I feel incredibly grateful for their encouragement and this inspired me to consider going to college to pursue an art degree.
Why do you teach at TDA?
I started teaching art at TDA to help with my son Devon’s tuition. I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to ask Lauren if they had room for a pottery teacher, and they did. So, I rented a U-Haul and moved my studio to TDA and set up shop in the lunch room for our first classes. Then the art teacher position opened up and I was invited to take the art department and develop it as the primary teacher. But as I’ve settled into this role, I have such joy in inspiring creativity in children of all ages.
How do you see God in art?
Well, art is something we humans make. That’s one way we are like God, made in His image. We create. I love the humanity we find in art. I believe we paint, sculpt, sing, write and dance for a few reasons. We do these things for the pure joy of it. We also want to communicate something that is personal and intimate. We long to worship in ways that come from deep within our souls, and we have a restless hunger to explore the beauty and meaning of life. Sometimes I feel we hardly know why we do these things. I think people reach for God in these creative ways, but I wonder if God is actually the one reaching for us. When I create something, I feel His presence and joy. I see God in art through the things He has made. Sometimes I’m brought to tears by the beauty of nature. Beauty is joy. Beauty is a kindness. We are the beautiful work of God. We are His magnum opus, His great workmanship.
Each year you seem to have vastly different ideas. How do you keep the class work and assignments fresh each year?
I keep it fresh by doing a lot of research. The collecting of ideas has become a wonderful pastime for me. I have amassed pages of ideas from veteran art teachers via the internet, Pinterest and YouTube. I have seen art teachers who do the same projects every year. Why? It seems so boring! There are so many things to try and explore. I have found that the best projects are the simple ones. A good project begins with a great idea. I almost always do the project first before I teach it so that I have an example ready for the students. This helps me find the trouble spots and see if I have to modify or economize the project using what materials we have at hand. How we finish and present the work is very important. Even the most simple work is made precious by how you finish and display it.
Could you talk about the importance of beauty, glory, color, line, texture and shape.
These are very important terms that are woven throughout our natural world. Why is beauty important? I feel we are made for beauty. Beauty is comforting, free, kind, secure. When partnered with truth it is heaven on earth. The trick is to know where to find true beauty. I hear it in a friend’s laughter. I taste it in a ripe apple. I feel it through the words of Jesus. I see it in a new sunrise, a quiet morning, a wave splashing, a silly joke told a small child. Beauty is all around and if we can see it, we can make good art. Shape, line, texture, color, these are the elements of good art. We focus on these and use them in all of our lessons to bring layers of depth to the composition.
How could parents help their children grow a love for art?
Parents, please take your children outside to roam around and look at nature. Get to a park, take a walk in the woods, sit by a lake, or your back yard and find the treasures there. Draw or color with your kids. You don’t have to be perfect, they just love to be with you as you explore being creative together. Perhaps you could put together a box or a special drawer with a few art supplies so they are easy to access. It doesn’t have to be expensive to have fun.
What has been your favorite art lesson?
Wow, this is hard to choose. But, the second grade did a glue and pastel chalk landscape project two years ago. It was so stunning! It looked like a gallery show when I hung it in the entry hallway. It was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes when I stepped back and took it all in.
What was your biggest mess?
My biggest mess was when Mr. Elder gave me a five gallon bucket of gooey, green spackle. We used it to make paper clay which is a strong paper maché. However for weeks in the art room green, gooey spackle was everywhere! To this day I have a green carpet stain by my art room door.
How do you thread the knowledge of God through your art classes?
If art is a language beyond words, and we’re using art to say what words can’t, then it requires us to practice in order to become fluent. Art has all the potential of becoming a way to worship, to talk to God, to share friendship with Him. It also is way to communicate what is in your heart to others. When you learn a language, you practice its parts, and eventually become fluent. I teach students to become fluent with paint, clay, brushes, charcoal and pastels. Scripture says; “Out of the abundance of the heart, so the mouth speaks”. I feel art is much the same. Out of the abundance of the heart, art speaks. If the heart is dark, sad, confused or lost, the art will show it. If the heart is full of light, joy or wonder, the art will show it as well. When we go outside to paint a landscape, I’m teaching them the discipline of awareness. To really look and see and capture the essence of nature, and appreciate the beauty that’s all around them. In these ways, I’m opening them up to the knowledge of God and hopefully inspiring them towards worship.
What do you hope to impart to the students in your classes?
I wish that every art student would know the joy of being creative. I hope to give them permission to be curious, to pause and take a deeper look, to really see a thing. I’d love for them to walk away from their school years knowing they are unique, lovable, valuable, capable of creating beauty in their art, in their relationships, and in life.