Q&A with Laura Helms

Pauline Esguerra , Staff writer

Q: What made you want to be an art teacher?

A: I actually wanted to be an English teacher at one point, and then I graded my first essay and then I said, “Oh no. I could never do this.” I have some serious respect for English teachers, but I’ve always enjoyed painting and doodling and drawing, and when I got to high school, I took more and more art classes, and I just really fell in love with it. One of my friends told me, “Hey you’re really bossy. You would make a good teacher,” so then I thought, “Hey, I could put two things together.”

Q: Did you always know you wanted to do something in the art industry?

A: I always kind of wanted to be a teacher, just in general, and then I just wanted to figure out what I really wanted to teach. When I was in college at Oklahoma Baptist, I took a graphic design class, and I really liked that class. I love working with my hands. I love making layouts and designs. I really enjoy it.

Q: How would you describe being an IB art teacher?

A: Being an IB art teacher is like herding cats with blow torches. We’re all doing different things, and it could all be productive, and it could all be awesome, but we’re all doing things with sharp-pointed objects, or fire or knives, so it could go really bad really fast. I think cats with blow torches could probably make beautiful art, but you have to keep them in line. I absolutely love my job, but it is kind of like herding cats doing dangerous things.

Q: What’s the best thing about teaching art to your students?

A: We have so much fun. Probably one of the things I enjoy the most is whenever we discover something new, and there’s always that one kid that just loves it. Not everybody loves paper mache, but there’s that one kid that says, “Oh my gosh, I love paper mache more than life itself.” So finding that one art medium for each student makes all the difference. One medium can change their perspective on everything. I love being here for it.

Q: What are your favorite pieces of art you’ve created and why?

A: I have a very large three foot by four foot oil painting of a heron that I did last summer. We actually critiqued it in class. I love that piece; it’s my favorite. It’s very personal; it’s big, it’s rough, [and] it’s absolutely gorgeous. Right now actually, my current motif involves birds and symbolism, and taking birds out of the context of their literary symbolism. For example, the Albatross has a history of being a good omen, but when it is no longer living, it is perceived as a bad omen. So taking this out of their context and using them for story-telling purposes. It sounds really strange and bizarre, but it does have a purpose and a meaning behind it.