Growing up in Italy, Emma Whitaker, Lower School Art Teacher, found her love of art at an early age. However, when she was a kid, school was very serious and the students did not have formal art classes until High School. Even then, classes were only taught in "disegno tecnico" (technical design), which is primarily used for architecture or engineering. Not finding what she was looking for in school, she went out and discovered her passion for more expressive art, and the rest was history. "I was surrounded by paintings, sculpture, and architecture, all the way from ancient times to more modern," Emma said. "Art is so celebrated in Italy, it was very easy for me to find my niche."
Emma left Italy to to attend college at Emory University in Atlanta, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a minor in Architectural Studies. She went on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maine College of Art. During summers while going to school, Emma held a studio apprenticeship with a popular large-scale painter in England and taught English in Spain. Emma also worked with galleries in Washington, D.C., helping to curate collections and shows.
This curation experience connects to one of Emma's favorite aspects about teaching at CESJDS; curating student art collections for display around the school and at local galleries. She is especially passionate about getting students involved in, and exposed to a wide variety of mediums, given the absence of in-school art training when she was young. "Art education is shown to not only increase academic performance across all subjects, but students also show a more sustained interest in school," Emma said. "A recent study also showed that participating in art education on a regular basis significantly decreases hormonal stress levels1."
Outside of school, art remains Emma's number one passion as she paints for three hours each day. Her interests also expand into most areas of the art world. "I am interested in interior spaces and the effect of architecture on our psychology," Emma said. "I explore that through painting and sculpture."
You can view Emma's work at local galleries. Her most recent presence was at TouchStone Gallery in DC where she showed a painting called "Cherry Blossom Season." Emma also accepts commissions for portraits of people and their pets, and is training to become a yoga teacher.
All of Emma's passions, in-school and out, can be linked to her emphasis on expressing one's self. "Art is an expression of the inner life of the person, so in the end it's really about love," she said. "The students are so naturally expressive, and self-expression is so important. I am lucky to be able to help my students explore art in their own way."