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Guest Artists Answer Important Questions for Aspiring Johnston Charter Scholars

Students at Johnston Charter Academy are broadening their perspective on the creative world with visits by local artists. Throughout January and February, Art Teacher Valerie Niemann has scheduled artists to speak with her classes about their medium, style, and the realities of living as a professional artist.
 Catherine Lugwig Donleycott art

“The students had great questions to ask the artists such as ‘what inspires you to create art?’ and ‘what caused you to choose art as a career,’” Niemann said. “Most of them were surprised at how much their paintings and mosaics cost (some up to $15,000). The students had exposure to artists who made a living with their art, which is often difficult since the art field is so competitive.”
Students often follow artistic paths or techniques they’ve been introduced to, so having artists visit to talk about their own mediums was inspiring to many.
 artist Clarence Heyward

“The students were thrilled to hear about artists from our community and their ambition to spread their love for art to the world around them,” she said.
Some of the artists included Clarence Heyward, who has his work on display in the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh, and other places around the country. Sarah Fishbein is a locally famous mosaic Pop Artist and was a recent speaker as well.
 artist Michelle Fields Laughinghouse

“It is one of my greatest joys to see my students' eyes open wide when exploring the world of art around them,” Niemann said. “If anything, I want them all to leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation for art when they leave my classroom, and I think that so far, I have seen some of the fruit of my labor!”

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About Johnston Charter Academy
Johnston Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Clayton, North Carolina, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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