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Daily Inspiration: Meet Meera Ramanathan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Meera Ramanathan. 

Hi Meera, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I moved to the United States in 2004 after living in Chennai, South India. Having received my Masters’s degree in Fine Arts, drawing, and painting, I was excited to move to San Diego and loved everything about this beautiful city! I took pottery and stained-glass classes while getting units in child development. I worked as a preschool teacher for 9 years teaching 31/2-41/2-year-old students. It was an incredible experience being in the classroom while learning to plan lessons in art, music, movement, and literacy.

In 2016, I decided to pursue a single-subject teaching credential in visual art at San Diego State University. The program was eye-opening in helping me understand how to plan lessons for a large classroom setting and learn classroom management. I got the opportunity to student teach in a high school classroom and be mentored by the art teacher who gave me valuable advice and tips on how to be an effective educator. I worked for the Visual and Performing arts (VAPA) department for San Diego Unified School district and taught art at several elementary schools across the district. I currently work as the Project Resource teacher for visual art and teach students UTK through 5th grade.

I am also a paper collage and hand embroidery artist and have created works that have been featured in several shows in San Diego.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Having lived outside of the United States most of my life, I was unfamiliar with the education system in this country. Enrolling in the credential program helped me understand how to develop and write lesson plans and implement them in elementary, middle, and high school classroom settings. My biggest takeaway was learning to teach students not only to create but also to respond, present, and connect with the art they were making. I learned and am continuously learning about different artists, techniques, and media I can introduce to my students and the joy they can find in the process of creating.

It was intimidating to create artworks of my own and find art shows and venues to present my work. I am fortunate to have had several mentors that offered me valuable advice and motivated me to keep creating while finding my artistic style. I have had 4 solo art shows in San Diego since 2019 and have been part of several group shows.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I like to introduce my students to artists from different parts of the world while giving them the opportunity to create, present, respond and connect with various media and techniques while finding inspiration from their own life experiences. I aim to see how I can make my lessons accessible to all my students while keeping them challenged, motivated, and engaged. My goal is to teach empathy and tolerance, via art while students learn to use their critical thinking skills.

Incorporating a multicultural process encourages my students to exercise their compassion and learn about the cultural history of different parts of the world.

I had my students collaborate in creating a Kolam artwork, an artform from India where designs are made with dots that are joined together using lines. I put together the individual Kolams of 362 students to create a large Kolam at my school site.

This past school year, I engaged every grade level in collaborative artworks ranging from having students weave on the fence with yarn in pairs to having a visiting artist work on a large-scale looming project with all fifth-grade students. This has promoted a sense of community among students and has given them a sense of pride in their accomplishments. My 4th graders created weaving on bicycle wheels that are installed at my school site.

This year I had my 5th-grade student’s design flowers digitally, collaborate to create a final design, add a positive quote, and paint their legacy mural, to leave their positive mark before moving on to middle school. Approximately 150 students worked on their mural this past year, and I am incredibly proud of their work!

I chaired the 2021-22 CAEA San Diego County K-8 Student Art Exhibit sponsored by the California Art Education Association of San Diego (CAEASD) and supported by SDCOE, which was on view in April, at the Mission Valley branch of the San Diego Public Library. This exhibit highlighted the visual art education in San Diego schools, showcased art teachers’ skills, and the impact their work has had on their students and the community. The exhibit brought together students from 6 different school districts in San Diego County with a total of 76 artworks on display.

I currently have my ongoing solo show at the Mission Valley public library titled “Handling Tamil.” This is a 30-piece collection of paper collages with hand embroidery. I incorporated the 12 vowels and 18 consonants from Tamil, my mother tongue, as handles in the coffee mugs, teapots, and ladles.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I love the warm weather – it is similar to the city I grew up in India! I love that San Diego is diverse – it is so great to see people from all over the world, taste different foods, and watch people celebrate different holidays! I love that there are multiple places and opportunities to create and display different kinds of art!

Pricing:

  • $65-$125

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