Karen Burmeister's influence is still present in our Middle School art classroom. Remnants of previous lessons, projects, and her artwork are sprinkled throughout the room. Having the opportunity to see her work at the Duluth Art Institute was a wonderful experience for our students.
Some of the students had Karen as a teacher for their first years here at Marshall. A paper sculpture she held dear hangs above the teacher's desk in memory of her and as a reminder of her inspiration in the art room.
Maddie, now a 7th grader, remembers Karen's pride in the sculpture.
"It was a student of Karen's that made the piece for her," Maddie said.
Karen created many lessons, which I still use, and we are lucky to have them. They carry many examples of her artwork and her handwriting. As a very modest person, much of the community never got to see Karen's work, but in our classroom we see it every day.
Having the opportunity to see Karen's exhibit reminded our students of the type of teacher
she was; thoughtful, reflective, and kind. Through Karen's exhibit, students were able to
learn about the person she was, and about the person who spent so many years creating and inspiring students in the Middle School art room.
After seeing Karen's artwork students were able to reflect on the show. Some students really liked the way she could take all sorts of images and create a cohesive composition. Other students wanted to try some of the techniques Karen used, such as emphasizing the background of the work with gold, or creating new creatures with human and animal qualities. Another theme that inspired some students was the idea of taking multiple images to create a new image, such as a tree or a window. Students really liked the playful quality of Karen's collages.
In many ways, it was yet another great lesson from an even greater teacher.
Amber Burns is Marshall's Middle School art teacher. Karen Burmeister's collage project is on display at the Duluth Art Institute until October 4th.