Painting a New Portrait

Art sub Shannon La Vigne works on an art piece.
Art sub Shannon La Vigne works on an art piece.

By Kati Dann

High school art; some view it as a necessary evil they must endure to graduate. To others, art is not only a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Shannon La Vigne, the long term art substitute, relates to the latter.

La Vigne joined the Legend family midway through the first quarter when Alicia Conrad, the regular drawing and painting teacher, went on maternity leave.

“It was really stressful at first,” said La Vigne. “But it was really exciting too! I’m really thankful I have people like Modesitt and Dykstra and Thornton to help me, along with the communication I’ve been having with Conrad. I feel like at this point I’ve finally got it figured out.”

The already developed art program had to adjust to the new teaching style as well. “La Vigne makes things very visual, whereas Conrad would explain it with the mechanical terms more,” said junior Kaitlyn Reilly, a National Arts Honor Society member who has been taking art classes since her freshman year. “Both styles of teaching have helped me and it’s been nice to get a new perspective on my art.”

Before coming to Legend, La Vigne got her undergraduate degree in art education from RMCAD [Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design]. “My emphasis was painting,” said La Vigne. “I also got to learn how to do jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, installation work, and drawing. Art is all I’ve ever done, really.”

A long term substitution job for someone fresh out of college is nothing to sneeze at. “I’m very picky about my substitutes,” said Conrad. “La Vigne was recommended by an art teacher colleague that was a recent RMCAD graduate and her professor forwarded my request to a student she thought would be great for the position. La Vigne then sent me her resume. After a phone, as well as personal interview, I knew she was the perfect choice.”

“La Vigne shadowed my classes for three days and observed and participated on her own time,” said Conrad. But the dedication isn’t the only thing that convinced her La Vigne was a great choice. “Above all, I loved how she interacted with the students and how she connected with them on an individual level to best help them shine. Her creativity and passion for the arts only enhanced why I knew my students would be in good hands,” said Conrad.

“La Vigne has pushed me to go outside my boundaries of what I normally do for art,” said Reilly. “I’m using different mediums than I am used to and my art projects are more complex.”

Along with the new teaching style, La Vigne also brings her own art style as well. “I’d describe it as really loose and kind of spontaneous,” said La Vigne. “Also really strange.”

“There are so many good things about working here, so many good moments,” said La Vigne. “Whenever I help a student with their ‘a-ha’ moment and get them excited about art, particularly the ones who didn’t like art to begin with, those are my favorite moments.”

Although it seems everything is working out for the best for the Legend art program, the substitution job is indeed a temporary one. “I’m applying to grad school this December,” said La Vigne. “I’m hoping to get into UT’s fine arts program and move back to Texas.”

As for Conrad, “I’m really trying to focus on my family. It’s hard to let go of your classes and students. I miss them, but I feel confident that La Vigne is a wonderful fit and I know my students will continue to grow and learn as creative individuals.”

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