Art students at Greene County High School are encouraged to follow their own creative route, as well as learn the basics from art teacher Diane Kunzler.
Her experience as a professional artist and an adjunct professor at Iowa Central College in Fort Dodge adds to her depth as a teacher during her 25 years in the district.
“When I first started teaching, I only planned to teach for a couple of years. Now it’s 37 years later, and here I am,” Kunzler says. “I get to talk about art by day and see the kids really get excited about it.”
Her goal as a high school art teacher is to help her students find ways to express themselves in their art work.
She found her way into the art world through gaining her bachelor’s degree from Graceland University (formerly Graceland College), and her master’s of fine arts through the Art Institute of Boston. Kunzler would work on her art with a mentor throughout the year then travel to Boston for one week at a time twice a year to meet with her professors.
Kunzler says she approaches teaching art from two sides. One side builds skills such as how to create a three-dimensional effect on paper.
“It is also about how to make them realize there are multiple layers of meaning in art and objects,” she says. “What is the purpose of the communication, and how are you going to get them to see the idea? Sometimes the assignments in class are open-ended, and sometimes I just tell them, ‘Hey, you aren’t going to like this, but we are going to draw…’ ”
In a recent class, she had the students drawing representations of water so they could hone some basic drawing skills. In painting they have to paint clouds and waves.
“Those are the times the students need to learn to trust what they see,” she says. “Sight is a faculty, but seeing is an art.”
In her professional artist life, Kunzler maintains a studio in Des Moines, shared with her daughter and a couple of other artists at 316 S.W. Fifth St., Des Moines.
“The studio is more a space to work, although there is lot of my work on the walls,” Kunzler says.