RIT grad student takes part in community outreach through art education

Student Spotlight
Lilyanna Landon, visual arts–all grades (art education) graduate student

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Lilyanna Landon (left), during a community outreach event at Compeer Rochester.

Lilyanna Landon, a graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in visual arts–all grades (art education) at RIT, is one of a handful of students in the program who recently took part in a community outreach project at Compeer Rochester. As part of the community outreach, MST students led art projects for adults with disabilities and their volunteer community partners. The themes of the evening were “Georgia O’Keefe” and “Spring has Sprung.”

In her time away from the classroom, Landon, from Corinth, N.Y., enjoys painting, biking and spending time with her family.

A studio celebration will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on May 11 in Booth Hall, room 3560. Students will highlight their capstone materials including their portfolios, faculty will be present to answer any questions about the program, and light refreshments will be provided. The event is open to the public.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: I was looking for a degree that could get me into the art room in the fastest way possible. The MST program is the only one-year program in the Rochester area for a master’s degree for art education. I would like to be in the classroom teaching art and this was the quickest route to a career in visual art education.

Q: What prompted you to pursue a graduate degree?
A: I decided to pursue a graduate degree when I fell in love with teaching. I was a teacher’s assistant in Gasport, N.Y., for a second-grade classroom in the summer of 2013. I had the opportunity to support students of all abilities. I think that connecting with those students in the classroom really inspired me to become a teacher. I was attending SUNY Fredonia for a visual arts degree at the time. It was a natural development.

Q: What experience have you gained as part of this program, and what has been your favorite part of it?
A: I think that volunteering as a visiting art teacher within the Rochester area has been one of the most rewarding experiences that has come from the MST program. My classmates and I have volunteered at Rochester City School No. 29, Bates Rich Child Care in Fairport, N.Y., and now Compeer. I think that the more exposure you have to teaching art, the more you can improve and develop as a teacher. The MST program really emphasizes the importance of supporting the community and it helps us as art teachers to share ideas and experiences in the city we are going to college in.

Q: What did you do prior to your enrollment in a graduate program at RIT, and how did that experience shape your interests?
A: I was a stay-at-home mom and worked part-time, while my fiancé attended graduate school. I watched our daughter, Sonya (now 3), during the day and worked a couple nights a week as a server at Olive Garden. My fiancé, Ken Clause, was attending RIT for the MST program last year. So I experienced an outside perspective on the MST program before I applied.

The most influential experience that shaped my interests was raising my daughter. Sonya loves drawing, so I would set up our kitchen table like her personal 2-year-old studio space. I remember the exact moment I realized that this was something I wanted to do as a career. Sonya was struggling to draw a cat. I didn’t want to do it for her, so I asked her what parts of a cat she could draw? I asked her how cat ears look, and so on. When she drew her own cat all by herself, the pride and joy in her face was so heartwarming, and I knew that I needed to do this for other children.

Q: What did you gain from your experience volunteering with Compeer?
A: I have gained positive connections with people within this community. I think that volunteering with Compeer helps me as an art teacher, and it brings the process of creating art to the people involved in an incredible program in Rochester. I love the enthusiasm that is created when someone makes art and loves it! I really enjoyed helping the friends and mentors create wonderful paintings.

Q: What are your plans following your graduation from RIT?
A: My plan is to become a full-time art teacher in the Rochester area. I have fallen in love with the community, and I want to have a career in art education near a place that has become my home.

Lauren Peace compiles “Student Spotlight” for University News. Contact her at lmp1579@g.rit.edu with suggestions.