During the first weekend of November, Director of Art Education Lauren Stichter traveled to Breckenridge, CO to give the keynote address at the Colorado Art Education Association 2021 Conference (CAEA). She had first been asked to give this speech three years ago, but she was busy running the 2019 Disability Studies Arts and Education International Conference at Moore at the time and was unable to make it. Then, of course, the pandemic was in full swing in 2020. But CAEA persisted, and third time was the charm: in 2021, she was able to make it out.
The experience was both a teaching and learning experience for Stichter. In the several months she spent preparing her speech, she reflected on her over two-decade-long career and all the learning and growing she has done and continues to do.
“I was able to attend sessions at the conference for my own professional development, as I continue to expand my anti-racist pedagogies, learn from the LGBTQ+ community and the disabled community. I’m always listening and learning from the communities that I myself am not a member of.”
When talking about the new online track of Moore’s MA in Art Education with an Emphasis in Inclusive Practices, Stichter discussed the ways that this program stands out from any other program like it in the country.
“Our graduate program recognizes that all art educators are working with children and young adults who come from varying backgrounds, communities, experiences and skill levels,” she said. “Our training and research here at Moore centers on creating safe and accessible art-making environments and experiences for all learners in traditional K-12 classrooms, community arts organization and museum settings.”
When asked if she would ever want to give another keynote speech in the future, Stichter said she absolutely would. “I am so proud of and love talking about the students and faculty [at Moore],” she said. “I want to regularly highlight the work that everyone is doing here.” This means not just spreading the word about the amazing work students and alumni are doing, but also opening doors for them.
“As I move up in speaking engagement tiers, if there is one I can’t do, then I am encouraging students and alumni into those speaking engagements, as well as educating them about how much they should get paid and what [the speaking engagements] will look like. [I want to] continue the cycle of raising up leadership and providing opportunities for them.”
She added that this cycle of supporting students and alumni in turn supports Moore: “They’re our best marketing tool! We really value what the students have invested in us, so we need to continue to invest in them beyond the classroom.”
In addition to getting to talk about the new online track for the MA program, Stichter says her favorite part of the conference was just getting to travel to Colorado after so long of a time spent looking at rowhomes out of the window of her own rowhome during the pandemic.
“Flying out and seeing the Rocky Mountains brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “I needed this trip for my own body, mind and spirit.”