Art Educator Renews Passion for Teaching with M.A. Degree

KENNESAW, Ga. | Feb 20, 2024

Teacher Jenni Horne now enjoys a deeper level of connection with art students

KSU alumna Jenni Horne renewed her passion for teaching art by completing a master’s degree in art education through Kennesaw State University’s M.A., Art and Design program, housed in the School of Art and Design in the College of the Arts.  

After years of teaching at the high school level, Horne now enjoys a deeper level of connection with her art students in her current role as a Limited-Term Lecturer of Painting at the University of West Georgia. She credits the unique program with directly leading her to this “dream job.”  

The studio-based approach of the degree, as well as the fully online format, piqued her interest. She’s always been a studio artist and believes that “part of being an art teacher is being an active artist.”  

“Everything we did was [centered] around art,” Horne says. “I saw a spark and [saw my peers] excited about making art again. [This program] invigorated a lot of people with their personal studio practice.”  

Horne experienced this same revitalization after feeling overwhelmed from teaching during the Coronavirus pandemic. She was excited and inspired by the opportunities and welcomed the “prospect of growing as an artist and invigorating my own artistic practice through this new educational opportunity.” 

One of Horne’s most impactful experiences of this program was the completion of her Capstone alongside peer and coworker, Erin Teets. Together, they completed a series of collaborative art pieces and presented them as an exhibit entitled “The Third Person.” 

Horne emphasized the isolating nature of art, claiming that “as an artist, you’re kind of a loner…[it’s just] you and your studio time,” but this experience offered an element of communication and community that Horne had never before experienced in her own studio practice. 

“All the research we completed gave me new insight into why I create what I do. I took the time to really dig and find a narrative that shares a more vulnerable side,” Horne says. “My work is mostly reflective of my role as a mother-artist. Even as a teacher, I find myself in the role of mother. It’s in my nature to nurture students … to love them where they are and to find a way to connect them to their own narrative.”

Horne’s work itself is largely a reflection of her motherhood journey and “the gentleness of being a mother.” Her paintings reflect this theme, as does her approach to teaching. She seeks to provide comfort for her students, claiming that “You can make an impact if you just listen,” and she seeks to call them higher in their own artistic practices. 

She enjoys encouraging her students and providing “insight into what it can look like to be a practicing, full-time artist.” During her time as a graduate student, she experienced the same level of insight and inspiration from KSU faculty.  

Dr. [Diana] Gregory made an impression on me. It’s hard to describe in words, but there was something about her—and the way she inspired me—to think differently about teaching and about my place in the world as an educator,” Horne says. “Dr. [Jenevieve] Goss [also] had me really reflect interpersonally. Some of her lessons made me realize why I’m such a successful teacher and artist. She had us digging—they all did.” 

Horne adds that Goss had “a beautiful way of inspiring and teaching us.” 

Goss explains that each group of students is different and brings something unique to the table. “My teaching style stems directly from first getting to know my students. Each module evolves and changes according to what I am seeing and hearing from my students as they create work and respond to readings and videos.” 

Goss also appreciates the practice-based approach of this program, and believes, like Horne, that “sometimes, as art teachers, we are so involved in what our students are making that we don’t take the time to create our own art.”

Horne joked that “teachers can be the worst students,” but through this program, not only did she excel as a student, but she grew to be an even better teacher.

“The whole program challenged my thinking as an educator and artist. The teaching style of each professor really had me thinking about how I interact with students and how I present content. Now, as a college professor, I teach in a deeper, more layered style.” Horne says. “What I gained was glorious insight, which I am now using to create artwork which is truly breathtaking and layered in meaning.” 

--Kendall Chamberlain

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