Scott Graber, an inspired art teacher from Pennsylvania

Scott Graber, an inspired art teacher from Pennsylvania

After our winners were chosen for this year’s “What About Peace” contest, we discovered something very interesting about three of the top winning artists; though they used different styles and mediums, they shared one thing in common – their teacher: Scott Graber of West Lawn,Pennsylvania. 

Contest rules require that all What About Peace? contest participants must have a teacher/sponsor in order to participate in the contest. And this year out of hundreds of entries, our Grand, First, AND Second Prize Visual winners all came from artist teacher Scott Graber’s class (not to mention a substantial number of Honorable Mentions!)

Here are the winning pieces from Mr. Graber’s class:

2013 Grand Prize Winner "Untitled"; Kaitlyn Reber

2013 Grand Prize Winner
“Untitled”; Kaitlyn Reber

2013 First Prize Visual Winner "Untitled"; Tyler Reppert, 17 yrs

2013 First Prize Visual Winner “Untitled”; Tyler Reppert, 17 yrs

WAP2013Cristina Serban Second Prize_0

2013 Second Prize Visual Winner “Untitled”; Cristina Serban, 18 yrs

We wondered how this teacher inspired such thoughtful work and decided to give him a call. 

It turns out Scott Graber has been teaching art for 14 years and has one of the most dedicated and inspiring teaching styles. We asked him what he did to open his students up to the message of peace. Here’s what he did:

He started with a class discussion about peace – from inner peace to world peace and then showed a slide show of the vibrant, anti-war pop culture posters of

A Few of the classic pieces that art teacher Scott Graber shared with his students for inspiration

Peter Max to experience how to make art with a message. They listened to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and listed the emotions, moods, colors and images that came to their minds. The students loved to talk about Peace, Graber reported, exploring conspiracy theories, dream-like utopias and world affairs.

Then he had the students prepare three or more thumbnail sketches of their ideas, keeping to the question: Is my message evident?  They displayed their sketches and the whole class discussed which composition worked best. Then each student chose her or his medium, the size of the piece and got to work.  

As they worked Graber continued to encourage and ask if the students were working to their full potential – reminding them that their name would be on the finished piece and represents them, teaching strategies he learned from the biggest influence in his life – his own high school art teacher.

All in all the process lasted 3 weeks from start to finish, with lots of great conversations about peace and some really creative answers to the question: “What About Peace?”

Inspiration can be passed from teacher to student to the world in more ways than you always know.   Thank you Scott Graber for your inspiration!