High energy, engaging, and inspirational are adjectives that define the interactions between Ms.Perry and her students. I have worked with Ms. Perry “Sami” both as a colleague at East Farms STEAM School and assistant teacher during the past 10 years of “ARTrageous” Summer Art Camp. The passion Sami has for art is mirrored in her passion for students. Sami allows students to identify their own individual expression and establish a voice. The message for students has always been, “You are an artist; moreover you matter.” Students feel seen and this helps them connect their art to themselves and how they fit into this world; giving them purpose.
To watch Sami work with students is magical and deliberate. Self-expression in art comes with learning and practicing the foundations of art principles. Sami will tell her students, “ Art is like other subjects, you get better with practice.” Once a student is introduced to a new technique, individual decisions are up to the student because “you are the artist and the artist makes decisions for their art.” Sami builds on each student’s strengths. Art is a process and each art piece is as unique as the artist. When these art pieces are created, Sami spends time creating venues and experiences for each student artist to showcase their work. Through this process, Sami gives students opportunities to self reflect and be seen.
Creating these opportunities for public displays of work has required Sami to write numerous grants and dedicate hours of work to set up these displays. Hundreds of pixelated drawings of a local historical restaurant blend together to create a gigantic representation of their location; a steam plant in the heart of Spokane. At the unveiling of this work, each parent of the hundreds of students could be seen with a magnifying glass detecting their child’s drawing; now pixelated and added to create a unified picture. Sami has also had students work on environmental challenges creating art from unwanted items. Students worked together to create the logo, signage, and eventually the mission of the STEAM school. Individually and collectively, Sami gives artists opportunities to celebrate their work and continue to inspire and create passion.
Sami is a skilled and talented artist. Pushing boundaries of mediums and creating art that expresses humor, irony, or injustice. She was commissioned to create a huge red shoe for our downtown courtyard, where daily hundreds of people stop by to have their picture taken next to the 9’ high heel shoe.
As Sami leads students to develop the skills to express themselves through art, Sami once again will push the boundaries of imagination and thinking. Eventually creating individuals to think, dream, and challenge themselves and others to create a world of opportunities, joy, and authentic relationships.