Ginger Huebner on Roots + Wings School of Art

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Ginger Huebner is an artist, a mother of two young children, and the
founder and director of Asheville's new Roots + Wings School of Art

Note: Readers will have a chance to win a children's book about one of her favorite artists at the end of the interview.

JEAN: First, can you
tell us a bit about your background?

GINGER: I got a Bachelor’s
degree in Architecture in 1998, but began to see that my heart was leaning more
toward art and art education.  I returned to college for a Masters in
Teaching Visual Art in 2000 and was pretty much determined at that point to
make my own artwork pursuits work hand in hand with some type of art education
career.  I didn't know what that really meant, except to try to teach
wherever I could and with any and all ages.  I became the art teacher at
one of Seattle’s alternative public elementary schools.  I also taught at
a variety of art centers (kids and adults), organized my own collage workshops,
and started an after school program for elementary kids.  I just really
have a passion for helping folks find and use their creative voice – no matter
the age! 

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JEAN: What prompted
you to start an art school?

GINGER: We moved
to Asheville 3 years ago when I was pregnant with my son and I wondered what sorts
of jobs I could. I started out working for an architect since there
weren’t any teaching opportunities in my field but continued to create my
personal artwork and found a studio in the River Arts District here. 

As Felix turned one I decided I had to make a change
(working full time with kids who got sick all the time was driving us crazy). 
I wanted to teach art classes for the pre-k age (3-6) but found that of all the
things we as parents have to choose from for our kids to take part in – visual
art classes were nowhere to be found (ironic for Asheville with such a large
artist community).  A number of my friends wanted me to teach their kids
though.  So I tried it and it flew.  This spawned a bunch of other ideas,
and I decided to take the Mountain Bizworks Foundations Class last April to
push them along and to just see where I ended up after those 8 weeks. 
Well, Roots + Wings School of Art (the preschool, the pre-k and afternoon art
classes, the adult workshops) was born.  All of this has happened very
quickly!

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JEAN: Will you briefly describe your
preschool and how it is different from other preschools?

GINGER: The focus
of our visual arts preschool is to create a structured freedom for each child
to explore the classroom and the world outside with the added exposure to the
many visual art mediums and methods. We don't sit around and do art all day but
rather have a specific part of each day that is spent in our art studio.  It
has been amazing to see the connections and growth being made by each
student.  The power of hands-on learning that art allows cannot be
matched!  Our day also includes snack, outside time, and a free choice
hour where the kids can choose to do more art, but we also have the more
typical preschool tools, manipulatives, nature table, books, blocks, and
cooking center that they can choose to work with as well. 

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We also document each child’s work through a
portfolio.  It is a binder full of photographs and text showing how the
child is doing and what they are being exposed to.  It’s a great tool for
the parents to 'see' what is going on at school, but also for the child to be
able to look back through what they’ve done. 

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JEAN: Can you tell me
about your monthly visits and hands-on demonstrations from local artists?

GINGER: We have
local artists come visit us once a month. Again, we've only been running for 2
months, so we have had one visit so far.  Our visiting artists are also
our Adult Workshop Instructors.  Part of their commitment to Roots + Wings
is to come by the preschool for a visit and a project with the kids.  Our
first artist was Christy Ammerman, a collage and mixed media artist. 
After she showed us some of her own work, we did a tissue paper collage project
with the kids. It was great!  Other artists scheduled are a book artist,
an oil painter, a sculptor, and some amazing parents from our preschool who are
going to present as well!

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JEAN: What about in
your own family? What kinds of art do your two children gravitate towards at
home?

GINGER: We are
always doing something!  We do a lot of basic drawing: looking at objects
and seeing the different shapes that make up the car or truck or stuffed
animal, and try to draw it.  At home and in the class I gravitate toward
using odd, found objects to create art with.  I think it is fun for the
kids to take something that they look at and think should be used for something
else (a mesh bag that held oranges), and use it to create art. 

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JEAN: What are your
favorite art materials for preschool-aged children? Favorite art activities?

GINGER: Painting
is always fun, water soluble oil pastels are like magic to kids, 3D sculpture
with wood (and letting them hammer a few nails!), and printmaking/collographs.
I never like anyone’s art to come out looking like their neighbor’s, so I
rarely use templates or pre-cut pieces.  If I do, I find a way to add
other layers or elements so every child brings their own unique creativity to
it. 

JEAN: Any
books/people/ideas that have influenced you and your approach to art with
children?

GINGER: My inspirations…
there are many, but I will just throw out two: Romare Bearden, an artist, and
Sambo Mockbee, an architect who was also an amazing artist.  Both of these
men have influenced my own work in my art studio, but have also made me who I
am as an educator.  They are two people whom I hope folks will look up and
spend some time with their work if they haven't heard of them.

JEAN: Thank you
Ginger! Kudos to you for seeing a need in the community and filling it. And for following your dream! You're an inspiration.

For more information about Roots + Wings School of Art visit their website. Besides the arts-oriented preschool, they offer one-time and weekly art classes for children and adults, family art sessions, and birthday parties.

Meanduncleromie

Post a comment by Friday, November 6 at 12 midnight EST for a chance to win a
copy of Me and Uncle Romie by Claire Hartfield, a children's story inspired by the life and art of Romare Bearden!


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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    November 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

    What a wonderful job she created. Thanks for sharing the interview with us.

  • Reply
    Aly
    November 2, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Oh to live near Asheville…sounds like a wonderful school!

  • Reply
    Quince and Quire
    November 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    What an incredible and inspiring interview. I am so impressed with what Ginger has created. Thank you for sharing this journey with young artists!

  • Reply
    Tracy
    November 2, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    thanks for a peek into Ginger’s life! my kiddos would love to visit her school :-)

  • Reply
    JJ
    November 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Fun! I am just starting to think about art for my son and love all the art experiences shared in your interview…

  • Reply
    tif
    November 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks Jean! I gave a presentation to my daughter’s class on Romare Bearden and we read the book in the give-away. The school sounds wonderful – I’ll look into it!

  • Reply
    Launa
    November 2, 2009 at 10:43 am

    What a great interview–thank you! Ginger is so lovely, and I love to read about people who have begun their own preschools. I have thought of doing it, too, so I’m encouraged by those who have. You can tell she’s created a wonderful place. Thanks also for the chance to win a new book!

  • Reply
    Maureen
    November 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Just awesome… wish she lived in my area.
    Thanks, Maureen (jnomaxx at hotmail dot com)

  • Reply
    Jennifer Williams
    November 2, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    I love this as a bsis for a pre-school…. oh if we lived nearer to you!! I follow this premise at home and my daughter (4) said to me yesterday ‘mummy I’m an artist aren’t I’ as we snuggled together widing pretty fluffy threads around huge pinecones. It made my day to hear her confidence in herself and her creative explorations!
    Jenni

  • Reply
    birdycake
    November 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    What a wonderful story! So inspiring! Art in most pre-k schools i have experienced tend to be geared towards the “craft” and are mostly “cookie cutter” art.. all work tending to look alike…same colors or shapes. It is amazing when we give our children the freedom to explore, experience, and create for themselves…. That is how I view art with my child. Endless possibilities filled with tons of room for imagination! Thank you for sharing this interview.

  • Reply
    Krista
    November 2, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    This sounds so wonderful! Very inspiring!

  • Reply
    GG
    November 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Very Inspiring Story. This is great that she managed to fulfill her dream as being an art teacher/mum and being able to offer art courses within her community.. I contemplating the same in a different subject though. ;)
    Your wonderful ideas keeps me creative enough for my 4 years old. I am not an artist therefore I find your blog inspiring .. thank you so much. GG

  • Reply
    mrspilkington
    November 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Wonderfully inspiring interview! And I love, love Bearden!

  • Reply
    jojoebi.blogspot.com
    November 2, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    great interview and I love the new blog!

  • Reply
    Sonja
    November 2, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m an artist & a nanny and hope to combine the two by teaching art classes some day – this interview is amazingly inspirational!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    November 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    all the groovy stuff happens in Asheville! looks like a fantastic venture . . . Nancy in (Raleigh) NC, [email protected]

  • Reply
    toasted
    November 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks for this interview – and all the posts in your blog. I’ve been loosely doing weekly art/craft groups with my friend and our kids but your blog has been inspiring me to rev it up a bit. I might even pursue my dream of running art classes for kids – who knows!

  • Reply
    Barb
    November 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    The children and parents of Ashville are very fortunate to have such a wonderful school in their city. Thanks for the information/inspiration!
    Barb

  • Reply
    molly
    November 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Congrats on a successful and seamless move to a new platform! And, on another nice interview. I like it that Ginger mentioned hammering nails — we did that at my preschool and it is one of the things that really stuck with me after all these years. I guess I should congratulate her on the new school too!

  • Reply
    ashley chandler
    November 2, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    What an inspiring interview! The book sounds great, too. Thanks for another great post. Hope you enjoy your new blog platform!

  • Reply
    Agnes
    November 3, 2009 at 2:11 am

    I love hearing how women/mothers create their own businesses fueled by passion. Very inspiring for a stay-at-home mama like me! What a great idea for a preschool!

  • Reply
    Mags
    November 3, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Jean – Congratulations on your “new place”! And thank you for sharing the interview. Food for thought re seeing a need in the community and being able to take a leap and do something great about it!

  • Reply
    Meagan Grant
    November 3, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Oh, how I wished near Ashville! My five year old is so into art, we send her to an afternoon school, but I so wish more of her day in kindergarten centered around art. This interview was so inspiring, thank you. Welcome to typepad as well…

  • Reply
    Anastasia
    November 3, 2009 at 7:13 am

    From the bottom of our hearts, we are sending Ginger our admiration and gratitude for the school she has established (and also to you for publishing this interview). I believe it is very important to draw the kids’ and adults’ attention to beauty for our world to be a loving place! And art is one of the ways to do it. My daughter is almost 18 mo now and since she turned 1 yr. I have been trying to involve her into art projects almost every day (painting, drawing, modelling…). After your post “How to Start a Children’s Art Group” I am also thinking of making something similar for our daughter and the kids of our friends (if I do, I will write an article on how it was). Your blog is a real inspiration for us!… Keep it up!

  • Reply
    Susan
    November 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    What a wonderful sounding school and an inspiration for what we can do day to day at home. Thanks for the wonderful blog.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    November 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Very cool! Good for you for having the gumption to start a business with a little guy at home. It’s so cool that you are able to follow your passion.

  • Reply
    Shannon
    November 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for doing the interview here! Very interesting work you are doing :)

  • Reply
    Annette Standrod
    November 5, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Awesome! I love her determination to be a happy mom doing what she loves. She is an inspiration to me.

  • Reply
    kelli
    November 5, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    What a great idea for a school!

  • Reply
    mommies wise little bookworms
    November 6, 2009 at 11:55 am

    great interview!

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