1. Why and how did you become involved with Boston Arts Academy?
Kathleen Marsh played a hand in BAA’s first audition process. In preparation for her role as the first Visual Arts (VA) teacher and first chair of the VA Department, she created a curriculum with the goal to make a difference in an urban classroom. She was drawn to big city landscapes which led her to identify voids that needed filling with young artists.
As a child Kathleen was surrounded by the arts. She grew up in a household that encouraged creating what you needed.
“If something needed to be made, we made it ourselves.”
She took music classes and continued to stay in the creative field through college. She studied Fine Arts at Syracuse, and then went to grad school at Mass Art. Once certified to teach she taught all over the city.
“I like to cook things up ad make things happen. I like to get students in a situation where they feel skilled, empowered and have ideas."
Kathleen has played a key role in curating projects between different disciplines, such as fashion technology and graphic design studies.
2. What's a poignant or prominent memory you have of Boston Arts Academy?
“What was special about the first couple of years here at BAA, was that there were less than 150 students. Everyone knew everyone. Kids had a lot of say in the traditions that still are honored and in place today."
She watched students establish the culture that has made BAA so special for the past 25 years. She recalls a fond memory of hearing the Music Majors practicing vocals in the halls.
A poignant memory she also recalls was when a student that struggled academically for years, finally made the honor roll. Classmates cheered him on with signs and kind messages.
3. When you think about BAA what are the 3 words that come to mind and why?
"Love, art, and transformation."
"If we love doing what we do, we are loving correctly. Love looks different depending on the people and the situation. Sometimes love looks like structure, sometimes it looks like a hug and encouragement, and sometimes it looks like a reality check. When you come from a place of love it assumes the best intentions. Love paves a path for being the best people.”
“Art means different things for different people, for some people it means dedication and working at the highest level, or it means this is the best way I learn, and I'm going to be e.g. a pharmacist. Art is a way into humanity and what it means to be human. The clearer we are with that, the better everyone would be. You can't make art without being vulnerable. Having to be a beginner with your technique and process is a humbling experience. When people bring their best selves to the artistic process, good art is bound to happen eventually.”
"Once I met an ER doctor and she was explaining her work and what she loved about it. The answer: being addicted to the transformation. Something about the alchemy of being a teacher, where if you set up the right situation, students can be themselves, develop skills, and as a result develop confidence- which has a spiral effect. It is so fun to watch people transform, grow and deepen in their self-discovery and be goofy and serious and passionate - sometimes all in the same day. It is a privilege to witness and be able to lay the groundwork for that.”
4. 25 years later, what about BAA makes you most proud?
“The people, the students, the families, colleagues - current and former, and former interns. When people bring their best selves to work everyday magic happens, and that's really powerful.”