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LSMSA faculty member strengthens skills during sabbatical following several tough years

Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) Principal Lecturer of Visual Arts Chris King hopes to strengthen his skills during a sabbatical this semester. When he returns, he’ll use what he’s experienced to provide art students with new and improved curriculum, projects, and opportunities. 
LSMSA’s sabbatical offerings began in 2014 thanks to the generosity of contributions to the LSMSA Foundation, and offers opportunities for faculty and staff members to take paid leave for rest as well as personal and professional growth.

“I appreciate having this time to reflect and recover from the challenges of the last couple of years in the classroom,” said King. “When I applied for my sabbatical in 2019, the pandemic was not yet on the radar, then in 2020 I postponed my time away so that I could dedicate myself to adapting our studio classes to a virtual arts curriculum. Now, following several years of exhaustion, I have some time to relax and take care of myself,  a luxury that has been very difficult to find during these demanding times and one I am very grateful to have.”

King is spending time working in the studio as part of his sabbatical. He’s currently focusing on a body of work that is part of the Louisiana Virtual Residency Program in collaboration with Nigerian artist Oba Moyosade. The work from King’s shared project will be exhibited in early 2022 along with work from seven other teams of international artists. King also has a piece entitled “Easy Target” on display at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art as part of its annual juried Louisiana Contemporary Art exhibition. His most recent work is influenced by his role as an educator for the past 25 years and how his duties and responsibilities have changed while teaching during the era of school violence and Covid-19. In addition, King has collaborated with artists and guest starred on a new LPB art show for kids called Ziggy’s Arts Adventure.

In September, King will attend a workshop at the historic Anderson Ranch in Aspen, CO. During this short residency, he will focus on new methods and materials of making sculpture. 

“I intend to learn about new technologies used in various shop areas, hopeful that I can use this information in the creation of my own work and future projects for our students,” he shared.

For the month of October, he is planning a 2,500-mile solo motorcycle road trip to explore the country on his way to the East Coast. Camping most of the way, King hopes to unplug from technology and reconnect with nature, using this as a time of introspection and discovery. On his return King plans to visit the University of Lafayette’s Art Department to present his portfolio and to create a project influenced by his trip in ULL’s Printmaking Studio. 

“Serving as a visiting artist to ULL is an example of how I try to bridge relationships with University Art Programs,” King explained. “I want to make them aware of the type of contemporary arts education that our students are receiving prior to applying to college, so  they’re eager to accept our students.”

Participating in these kinds of growth opportunities provides faculty members the space to share their work with a broad audience, maintain their professional career, and later bring back to students as they continue to provide LSMSA’s hallmark college-level programs. 

“I want our art program to introduce students to a diverse group of historic and contemporary artists whose work explores a broad variety of themes and encourages our students to develop their own skills and find their artistic voice,” said King. “I hope my motorcycle journey inspires my students to travel, discover new things, and constantly grow as life-long learners who are eager for a new adventure.”

King is grateful for the generous contributions to the LSMSA Foundation’s donor-supported Richard G. Brown Fund that make sabbaticals like his possible and provide the financial assistance needed for his participation in the Sculpture Workshop at the Anderson Ranch. 

“I’d like to thank supporters of the school for allowing me this time to focus my energy on a variety of professional projects that support my goals as an artist and educator,” he said. “The Brown Fund has been a great help throughout my tenure at LSMSA, providing me financial support  to learn and grow as an arts educator. Their support enables me to modernize our arts curriculum and keep our content innovative and relatable to student interests and meet their collegiate portfolio needs.”

King is also appreciative of self-care and wants the same for his colleagues.

“I’d like to encourage other faculty members to apply for a sabbatical and allow themselves time for self-care and personal interests beyond the classroom,” he said. “You deserve it. ”
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