For Bridget Stadelmyer, earning her art education degree comes with a mandate. Teaching entrusts her with the responsibility to be a leader for her students, and to demonstrate how the arts can help them grow.
“I believe it is crucial that our society dedicates itself to the holistic care and development of its youth,” she says, “and that I can best contribute to that mission through art education.”
A psychology minor, Stadelmyer is interested in the way artmaking changes our outlook on life, empowers us and affects our health. Art can allow someone to contemplate their place in the world—how they fit into a community, how they see themselves and how they communicate with different generations.
Stadelmyer says she wants to use art to teach students to take an active role in society and in their personal lives.
“I so admire the ways art turns a consumer into a producer,” she says. “It seems to me that our current education system has asked our youth to be consumers, but I want to teach so I can encourage them to create art and respond to or influence their own personal and generational contexts.”
Artwork by Bridget Stadelmyer.
Over the course of her time at VCUarts, Stadelmyer has had many opportunities to help students grow. At a retreat center in Pennsylvania, she worked with a New York-based mission group for two summers, counseling and teaching art to inner-city children. In the Art Education department, she taught in an exceptional education class, where she and a classmate worked with a non-verbal preschool student. Together, they built up his vocabulary and self-assuredness in speaking until he began to speak unprompted.
“I was so excited to see him confidently speak on his own that I nearly cried,” she says.
This month marks her finals weeks of class before she transitions to student teaching. In preparation, she’s been learning more about printmaking and ceramics to expand her art practice. She’s also been engaging more with her spirituality as a campus ministry leader and through Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at VCU.
After graduation, Stadelmyer says that she would love to continue collaborating with other professionals to teach young students. She looks forward to working in a school, community center or art therapy ministry that serves a multiethnic community, develops leadership among students, and values the benefit that art has on society.
“I have no idea what the future looks like,” she says, “but that’s because I keep finding all kinds of new doors I could choose to go through.”