Year Four Art21 Educators | Catherine Karp and Cheryl Vernick

Last week, we introduced Caitlin Miller and Matthew Garza. This week, in the fifth installment of Art21 Educators introductions, we’d like you to meet elementary/middle school teachers Catherine Karp and Cheryl Vernick!

Catherine and Cheryl teach art to grades Pre-K through 8 at neighboring Montessori schools in Massachusetts. They also attended a variety of Art21 sessions at the National Art Education Association conference in NYC this year, including Oliver Herring’s day-long TASK party.

In her application to the program, Catherine described how the conference inspired her to think about contemporary art in new ways:

“I enjoyed hearing from Oliver Herring, Janine Antoni, and John Maeda. Each one spoke, in some way, about “where ideas come from,” in broad terms. I especially connected with Maeda’s idea of asking questions and solving problems… Participating in the TASK party with Oliver was just totally different from anything I’ve ever seen or done. I loved the open-endedness of it, the collaboration, the risk-taking, the experimental use of materials, and the JOY.”

Catherine is particularly interested in re-examining the “rules” in art education and discovering new ways to approach and break them. She recently developed a project inspired by Andy Warhol, in which she asked her students to re/define the terms “icon” and “self-portraiture.” Catherine’s goals for this upcoming school year are to improve her classroom discussions and encourage her students to dig deeper into the big questions, themes and ideas that can drive teaching and learning.

Cheryl also enjoyed the TASK party at NAEA this year and was excited about the possibilities for exploring TASK within her own classroom. Describing it as a “great way to stretch yourself in a safe place,” she hopes to use TASK as a tool for introducing her students to contemporary art, and how art can be used to comment on cultural, social, political and environmental issues. Cheryl was also recently inspired by a trip to MASS MoCA to see Leonard Nimoy’s “Secret Selves.” She is interested in further developing an interdisciplinary unit about identity and perception using Nimoy and other contemporary artists as a source of inspiration for her middle school students.


Catherine and Cheryl are both looking forward to collaborating with other arts educators this summer and exploring the interdisciplinary possibilities of teaching with contemporary art in their classrooms.

*This post was written with Dana Helwick, Art21 Educators Intern.