posted June 25, 2014- written by Tamara Horstman-Riphahn
“Make sure you take risks and pursue what seems to be the impossible.”
While she wasn’t always certain which path she was destined to take, Juliana Curtis has long fostered an interest and talent for art, as well as a respect and love for developing art with people, especially children. “I didn’t grow up knowing that I was going to be an art teacher. It wasn’t until my second year in college that I truly recognized what I was meant to do.”
Curtis chose Buffalo State for her academic career and believes that the location of the campus supports the ability of the Art Education Department to offer a nationally recognized program. Programs offered at surrounding centers like the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, a strong local artists community, and many galleries and showings - all within walking distance of the campus - allow for hands on experiences and learning about a diversity of techniques. As a student, Curtis consistently engaged in what the local community had to offer. She submitted her artwork to on and off the campus exhibitions and found every experience to be rewarding.
Attending Buffalo State allowed Curtis to have control over her own education. She learned that being an art teacher could allow her to help others in a unique and unobtrusive way. She felt support in many ways and from many sources and, with guidance from her instructors and encouragement of her peers, she built her confidence to new levels. “Once you find confidence in what you’re doing you will feel invincible. The entire Art Education Department at Buffalo State inspired me. The professors generated unique ideas through motivational conversations and classwork, ‘It’s all about the ideas…ideas, ideas, ideas,’ one professor used to say.”
It is important to Curtis that her students are proud of every one of their creations, and that they know they are making an impact in their communities with their individual insights and abilities. Motivation is her key to success. “You need to discover what makes you most passionate in life, find out where your services will be most useful; otherwise they’re wasted efforts. My students motivate me and I try my best to provide what they need to be successful,” she says. In order to motivate her students, Curtis gives meaningful assignments and positive feedback, acknowledging their progress and showing an interest in their work so they know they are important to her.
Curtis strives to use real life in all her work and classes. She sees it as the responsibility of the artist to visually express issues and ideas without ever viewing the act of creating art as frivolous. In this busy world, Curtis believes that what sets certain individuals apart is their willingness and ability to find balance, to organize their time and recognize their priorities. She centers on the importance of educators being present in their work (not just showing up because it is required) and building relationships with students to gain their trust and confidence. Making meaningful connections has helped Curtis to expand her own goals. Outside of her classroom, and with the assistance of the Buffalo State Small Business Development Center, she is working to develop a board game for children.
“Don’t allow yourself to stress about the future, you’ll miss out on the present. Celebrate all your successes big and small; they all support the larger picture. Your happiness is in the journey!”