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Artist’s career blended art with teaching

Posted: August 16, 2017 - 12:34am
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Artist Andrea Spano stands with her clay masks at the North Augusta Artists Guild’s Fall Into Art show in 2014. She won the honorable mention ribbon for it.

When Andrea Spano showed an interest in art in grade school, her mother encouraged her.

"I was the kid that had four shoe boxes of crayons in my room," she said. "I remember it was like opening a treasure chest when I played with my crayons."

Andrea's mother was artistic and completed studies at the New York School of Applied Design for Women. She was also a watercolorist.

At around 9½ years old, Spano's family moved to Europe (for the third time) because her father was in the military. She remembers spending Easter vacations visiting Paris, London, Barcelona, Wales and Scotland, and visiting her mother's family in England.

On these trips, the family always visited historical art museums, churches and gardens.

"This influenced me, though my art work still was very childlike at this point. But what I saw stayed with me and my art started to gel in high school," Spano said.

While a student in junior high school, she started working at a summer day camp in the art department. During these summers, she decided that she wanted to become a teacher. Spano attended the University of New Hampshire and earned a bachelor's degree in art education.

With her parents and the family's 15 horses, she moved from New Hampshire to a 40-acre farm in Jackson, S.C., and started her teaching career at Jackson High School as the art teacher.

Spano worked part-time at Jackson High School and part-time at New Ellenton Middle School. In 1981, she transferred to Silver Bluff High School, where she taught all the art disciplines: 3-D, clay, figure drawing, landscape painting and photography. She also served as the yearbook adviser during her last three years, under the mentorship of Jason Goings.

She enjoyed the adviser's position, which gave her the opportunity to attend yearbook workshops and leadership classes, and work with a different level of students. During her teaching career, Spano was awarded Aiken County Association of Special Citizens (1993) and was Teacher of the Year 2001-2002 at Silver Bluff High School.

That honor provided the motivation needed to complete her master's in education and educational technology from the University of South Carolina Aiken.

Shortly after retiring from the Aiken County school system as an art teacher of 35 years at Silver Bluff High School, Spano joined the North Augusta Artists Guild (naartistsguild.org) and is now able to concentrate on her own work. Her adaptability in both 2-D (watercolor, acrylics, charcoal and graphite, colored pencils, and photography) and 3-D (fiber art, mixed media and ceramics) has resulted in numerous awards.

At the art guild's annual Fall Into Art show, she has won the Director's Choice award (2011, 2013), People's Choice award (2013, 2014), first place photography (2012) and honorable mention 3D (2014). She also won honorable mentionat the NA Cultural Arts Council's Spring Fest in 2015.

She has exhibited numerous times at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Augusta and the Nancy Carson Library in North Augusta, as well as other North Augusta businesses that have partnered with the art guild, such as Quality Printing, Bush's Florist, Chamber of Commerce, the North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center, Men's Refinery, and La Petite Gallerie.

Other exhibits include the South Carolina Watermedia Society state tour in 2015 and the Aiken County Visitors Center in 2016. She also participated when the guild partnered with the North Augusta Parks and Recreation Department to provide original works of art for the Municipal Building.

Spano is a volunteer at the Arts and Heritage Center, on the first floor of the Municipal Building, and received their Volunteer of the Year award in 2016. She has helped create four dioramas at the Beech Island Agricultural Museum, and was the set designer for the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council's spring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2016.

 

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