Upper School and Lower School Art Teachers Exhibit Their Work

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
Art teachers Lauren Cook and Justin Pyles will present an exhibition of their landscape paintings this weekend at the Yellow Barn Gallery in Glen Echo Park. A mutual appreciation for each other’s art inspired the collaboration.
“I can’t tell you how delighted I was the day before Christmas break, and Justin walked in with a Santa Claus hat on and said, ‘Our work has synergy. Do you have a body of work you’re ready to show?’” Cook said. “I feel this simpatico, not only because of his teaching life but because he has a studio life.”

The show will feature Cook’s rural landscapes and Pyles’ Washington, D.C. urban landscapes. Community was a strong influence for both artists—while Cook considers sustainability and preserving community in her pieces, Pyles looks at the life of a community through seasons.

“When you have an opportunity to exhibit your work and share it with the world, it creates this positive pressure to pull things together that you want to say,” Cook said.

Cook and Pyles agree that St. Andrew’s has encouraged and supported their professional development as artists, and that their work here has found its way into their art.

“Knowing that I can be a fine artist without having to make a choice between being a teacher or a fine artist has made me feel like St. Andrew’s accepts me for who I am,” Pyles said.

“I know for me, my studio life as an artist informs my teaching life, and my teaching life both as an upper school classroom instructor and a colleague to teachers in all divisions, that informs my art for sure,” Cook said. “Whether it’s the questions I’m asking myself or sharing with students, or a technique that delights me or I want to understand better that [Justin’s] been doing, all of these things end up rolling into the conversation about teaching and creativity.”

Cook and Pyles said families should come to the exhibit to learn about more about the artistic perspective of their children’s teachers.

“When children see you painting, and then see their own work on the walls, it creates an authentic experience of the highest order of what you want to achieve as educators,” Pyles said.

The exhibit is open from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. A reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. The Yellow Barn Gallery is located at 7300 MacArthur Blvd in Glen Echo.

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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.