Ozarks Teacher Corps alum Rachel Wood received the Pearl Appleby Memorial Award prize for her Watercolor USA work, "Realizations of Change." Organized in 1962 by the Springfield Art Museum, Watercolor USA aims to attract the best in contemporary American watermedia and strives to exhibit work by artists who are pushing the boundaries of the medium.
Rachel reflected on the variety of influences that led to the piece: "As a first year art teacher, my life is a chaotic, complicated, and beautiful journey. My drawings are a visual reflection of that journey. They reawakened within me a realization that art makes me feel alive no matter what challenging phase of life I may be in. Art is the constant and repeatedly I make more of it. Arranged as a whole, each drawing becomes an integral element. In the same way, my life over the last year consists of small yet meaningful experiences crucial to my development as an artist and teacher. The overlapping voices of my students, family, and friends are intertwined in these blue shades and intricately penned lines."
"Realizations of Change" was, according to Rachel, directly related to her experiences as a novice teacher. "I created this unique art piece as an installation during my first year of teaching. My desire was to explore new artistic techniques, culminating in an integration of art into my daily life. Currently, I have just finished my second year of teaching as the Junior High Art Teacher at Branson Junior High School. I have signed my contract to begin my third year this Fall, and I eagerly look forward to the upcoming year. Apart from teaching during the school year, I teach summer school art classes and plan to continue developing my own personal art as well."
Dr. Julie Leeth, executive vice president of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Ozarks Teacher Corps coordinator, said Rachel's accomplishments were indicative of the potential for Teacher Corps alums to reflect on their experiences in ways that engage the community. "We talk a lot about the importance of place," said Leeth, "and Rachel's ability to weave her daily interactions with students into a lasting work of art is a tangible example of action leading to meaningful reflection."
Rachel will discuss her work and experiences at a Watercolor USA artist talk on Saturday, July 29 at 1pm at the Springfield Art Museum.
Below, the scale of "Realizations of Change" is seen through this perspective of a Watercolor USA Gallery. Photo by Aaron Scott.