Art Teacher Justin Hayden Inspires Students to Experiment

Shailyn Pugh, Staff Reporter

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Art teacher Justin Hayden was not always planning to become a high school art teacher. He did, however, have an interest in art. Mr. Hayden took Art Foundations in 9th grade with Mrs. Marie Ostrowski, a former teacher. He recalls a piece that he still favors from that time, “I created a pastel drawing of a rhino. Mrs. Ostrowski told me to work green into the rhino’s back. I thought that was really strange to do to an animal that is grey. As a result, this was the piece that launched my interest in art.” Mr. Hayden was understandably upset when his beloved piece was, unfortunately, misplaced in an art show. However, he continues to remember it as he now teaches the techniques that he first found to be “strange.” He explained, “I do this in order to teach them that in order to understand and use color properly, one must study other artists and experiment with the possibilities.”

“I teach students that with any single color there may be reflective and color casts. Color can be expressive, so using unexpected colors makes for interesting and more engaging artwork” he said.

Although Mr. Hayden originally went to Marywood College to major in photography, an art form he really enjoys, he later came to the realization that instead of falling into the competitive world of creating art, he would cultivate his interest by teaching it. Through teaching, Mr. Hayden is able to share his knowledge, skills, and talent with other people. This is one of the Mr. Hayden states that his favorite part of teaching is being able to “look at progression and see how much my students have grown.” For any young artists seeking to further their skills and have their own unique experiences through it, taking an art class will do this and more.

This is one of the main reasons Mr. Hayden enjoys art education. “My favorite part of teaching is being able to look at progression and see how much my students have grown” he said. He sees art classes as a way for any young artists seeking to further their skills to have their own unique experiences in art.  “Taking an art class will do this and more,” he said.

Junior art student Sabrina Swoyer agrees in the benefit of studying art with Mr. Hayden.  “Overall, he is an exceptional art teacher,” Sabrina said.  “He works individually with each of us students to help us improve our own skills and create a beautiful piece.”

“He also inspires us because he is an artist himself,” she added.

In fact, despite how busy he is in the classroom, Mr. Hayden still enjoys photography which he now pursues as a hobby and as a student, taking classes currently to earn a Masters in Studio Art with a concentration in photography.  Some of his photographs have even been published in Lenswork, a community book project. “Through photography, I’m able to pursue my passion for art outside of the workplace in addition to what I do at school,” he said. “I’m lucky to have both options.”

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