Middle School art teacher Alice Ballard didn’t have to look far to find this year’s Artist in Residence. Anna Onufer is not only a talented and respected lifelong artist – she is also a CCES parent and longtime volunteer.
During Onufer’s time assisting with the 7th and 8th grade set design project last spring, she and Ballard discovered a shared connection dating back more than thirty years in Charleston. Ballard learned more of Onufer’s impressive and varied background, which includes studying with renowned artists in both Vermont and Charleston, working in a prestigious gallery for nearly 30 years, and developing a love of teaching.
Much of Onufer’s love of landscapes came from her early life in the Low country. “Growing up in Charleston, my weekends were always spent on or near the water, marsh or cypress swamps. I loved capturing the marsh grass with its many color changes from season to season. To me, painting the low country was like breathing,” she said.
Over the course of the week, students watched Onufer demonstrate her technique, prepared their papers, and created their own monochromatic landscapes. The projects involved an interesting twist on their past painting experience. Their pieces came together in reverse – starting with a completely dark jewel tone and working with paint, Q-Tips, paintbrushes, and even their fingers to “add light” back into their work. “This new challenge made them slow down, stop, and think. They really seemed to be surprised at how striking strong value can be in describing a landscape scene, and they took great pride in the results,” said Ballard.
The budding artists confidently rose to the challenge under Onufer’s helpful guidance. “During class, she was busy making the rounds to help every student push their work a bit further and to applaud their efforts with constructive comments and suggestions,” Ballard recalled.
Both Alice Ballard andBrent Roberts were “thrilled” with the final product, currently on display in front of the lunch room and in the 5th and 6th Grade Commons. A special thanks to Anna Onufer for her enlightening visit to the Middle School!