Headshot of Sarah Kolker

Sarah Kolker MA ’15 is a graduate alum from the Art Education with an Emphasis in Special Populations program (now known as Art Education with an Emphasis in Inclusive Practices). She is a Philadelphia native and has Jewish and Jamaican heritage. At the 2022 Adding Voices Conference, she received the Observe & Reflect: Stay Engaged Award. Kolker is in conversation with Lauren Stichter, Director of Art Education.

This conversation has been edited for length.

Lauren Stichter: You and I have gotten to do a lot of really great work together, especially this year, so I thought we should highlight all the things that you’ve been up to since you graduated from Moore, gosh, seven years ago now?

Sarah Kolker: I know, I was looking at everything I’ve been doing and I was like oh my goodness a lot can happen in seven years! And I guess seven years is a long time. I’ve had my second child, so that’s one of the biggest things. I’ve been teaching in various settings, first I worked as a development associate and art teacher at a school for children with special needs. I worked with Sharon Hayes who is an artist here in Philadelphia as a production coordinator for a film that showed at the PMA. In 2018, I went back to Mural Arts as a teaching artist in a summer position and decided to stay, so I’ve created murals with youth and done projects all over the city. Recently, I began project managing and being a lead mural artist for Mural Arts. A few years back I became an Art 21 Educator and also started working with Global Writes, an organization that works with teaching artists and schools partnering to do game design, arts and technology integration in the classroom. I’ve done a few workshops per year in various settings about self-care, yoga and visioning. I co-coordinated and facilitated the Art Teacher retreat and I’m speaking at the Adding Voices Conference at Moore. And I’ve been showing art occasionally as well. 

LS: Quite a bit there! And you dropped some information in there about self-care which is what I believe you did your thesis work on, is that correct? 

SK: Yes! 

LS: When you were leaving Moore, did you think you would end up where you are now? 

SK: I did not know exactly where I would go, but someone told me that going to grad school would give you the confidence to just walk into a room and you would exude it and I definitely feel that for sure. 

LS: That’s really nice to hear. How did your time at Moore prepare you or equip you for the future of your field? 

SK: It offered me training in cultural awareness, skills and the depth of integrating my own passions to my education. All of my work [at Moore] directly led to the work I’m doing now. There’s a class I took with Joyce Millman where I wrote an essay on mural making and community building, which is all the work I’m doing. And I wrote my thesis on the self-care practices of teachers and how that effects students with emotional behavior disorders, which has allowed me to deepen my educational practices.

LS: I think that class was Contemporary Issues in Art Education, so it’s so great to hear that what you did in that class now relates to your contemporary practice! Can you think of an experience at Moore that directly contributed to the path that you’re on now? You kind of tapped into that a little bit, but is there anything else that come to mind? 

SK: I really liked all my teachers—I actually ended up hanging out one night after graduating with Lee Wentz, who taught Legal Practices, at a party—and that has really informed me supporting my friends who are getting IEPs for their children. And I have stayed really connected with Josephine Viviani, and she’s inspired me to keep showing and making art. 

LS: Jo is in a different season of her career, but she is still on the advisory board for the graduate program and is still wonderfully a practicing artist and does her own work. And Lee Wentz continues to be a practicing special education lawyer, and I love that he prepares our students to not only know what their rights are in the classroom but what their students’ rights are I think that’s really valuable. 

SK: Definitely.

LS: What are your hopes for the future of Moore as an art and design institution? Maybe specifically for the graduate program or even beyond that? 

SK: I really hope the school continues to grow culturally and contemporarily, staying with the practices and being culturally aware. 

LS: I think that you’ve always been so in touch with us, Sarah, I think I hear from you at least a few times a year just to check in and say hi, and you’ve been quite the sounding board for me at times to keep the pulse on what’s going on out there in the world of art education, including the art teacher retreat and then now of course adding to the Adding Voices Conference, which centers the voices of global majority art educators. 

LS: What is one major aspect of Moore’s history or legacy that you feel will continue to endure and feel relevant in the future? 

SK: I know the graduate school is open to all genders, but I love how the school is so dedicated to women in the arts. Also, the great Art Education program that teaches specifically how to relate and teach students where they are and to their abilities.  

LS: What is something that you’ve been working on that you’re really excited about right now? 

SK: I currently have work of art at iMPeRFeCT Gallery for their "HANDS OFF!!" Women's Bodies, Women's Rights art show that opened on September 24. I also have some murals that are being worked on, but you will have to see them when they are finished! You can follow my work at 

LS: Finally, what is your biggest piece of advice for future Moore students? 

SK: Keep making art and looking for your passion. Let it feed you.