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“Art is for Everyone” and Other Lessons from a Former Gilman Art Student

Middle School art teacher Dave Anderson introduced special guest artist Andrew Nelson ’09 at the Middle School assembly on Tuesday, February 14. To better connect the speaker with the boys, Anderson showed Nelson’s school photo from the 2003-2004 edition of Cynosure, which was the year Anderson began teaching at Gilman when Nelson was in seventh grade. (In the spirit of fairness, he showed his own yearbook photo from the same year as well.) He told the students about the activities Nelson took part in when he was at Gilman — like track, swimming, and water polo.

Nelson’s presentation, entitled “What’s art got to do with it? Advice from a former Gilman art student,” showcased some of his artwork from when he walked the halls at Gilman — some of which still hangs on the walls of Gilman. He referenced the festival of languages poster contest in Middle School as the catalyst for sparking his interest in art and said seeing artwork by older students in the Paragon inspired him to pursue art further. He remembered Upper School Art Chair Karl Connolly’s tradition of taking the class outside at the first sign of a warm breeze in the spring so students could set up their easels and paint Carey Hall.

Nelson shared three basic lessons he’d learned about art along the way: 1) Art is for everyone, even if you’re sharing and talking about it. 2) Art can take many forms; he encourages students to become infinitely curious. 3) Art is challenging; “That’s part of the beauty of it.” He reminded students that artists don’t only have to be one thing; they can have other interests, too.

As he told the boys about his adventures in art — his memories of lugging his art portfolio around on college interviews, his time studying art at Yale, his career in graphic design and then UX design, and his recent decision to quit his job and return to making art — he added, “This whole journey started with my love for art and with painting in front of Carey Hall.”

Middle School students enjoyed a visit by Upper School art students in early March.


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