SVMA Staff Spotlight: Sarah Parker

Meet Sarah Parker, Education Coordinator at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. Sarah has been a teaching artist in the A.R.T.S program for 7 years. She’s also an artist, auntie, and fern lover. Sarah’s hope is that the union will unify the museum and our community. If you’ve ever enjoyed a visit to the museum. Sarah wants you to know you have a voice at SVMA, too. She’s your advocate. Read more about her story below!

  1. What do you do at SVMA?

I was a Teaching Artist here at SVMA for 7 years before taking on the duties of Education Coordinator in 2019. I lead a team of 9 amazing Teaching Artists who create and deliver most of the educational programs at SVMA. We meet together, we train together, we collaborate together, and we support each other. I also still serve as a Teaching Artist when I can—and I do miss being able to focus solely on that sometimes—but I have also found a lot of joy in knowing that I can put my administrative skills to work to help support and serve the other Teaching Artists. Carrying the educational programs through all of the ups and downs of this pandemic and figuring out how to make our programs work virtually, in a hybrid environment, and in person (and sometimes all simultaneously!) has been a challenge that I honestly didn’t know if I could meet! Each time though, it was another Teaching Artist who pulled me through. I have learned so much from each of them. They are all such kind people, and I am honored to be able to work with every single one of them.

2. What motivated you to pursue a job in the arts?

That’s an interesting question. I guess I have never really thought of being a Teaching Artist as “a career in the arts.” It’s a teaching career really, but one where I focus on communicating ideas through art. A “career in the arts” for me would have looked more like pursuing recognition for my own art, but somehow for me it’s never really been about that. Art has a value that goes much deeper than what others will see and like and pay for. To create is the highest and most important work that I think we as humans can do, and that is what I guess I hope to communicate to my students. 

3. What other hats do you wear outside of your job at the museum? 

Outside of the museum I am an Auntie! I adore it. To be called “Auntie Sally” thrills me to the bone. I’m also wife to my incredibly kind husband, Aron, and as I sit here writing this, I have a little green parrot on my shoulder and a black and white spotted dog curled up in my lap. I also help coordinate care for my amazing grandmother, who is still kicking ass and taking names at 96. I am deeply connected to my family. I guess I also make ridiculously complicated graphite drawings in my spare time. I love unexpected connections, unusual juxtapositions, and intricate patterns. I’m also a tiny bit obsessed with ferns. I’d like to stop talking about myself now, because this is starting to sound like a very weird dating profile!

4. What’s something challenging in your role that you are proud of accomplishing?

I am proud that… I’m still here. I’ve done the best that I can every minute of every day and I think that my being here in this position has made a difference. 

5. What’s an aspect of your job that you wish could be made easier?

I would love to see the Teaching Artists thriving and to have their voices heard and included. They have such a unique ability to share the artist’s experience and perspective, and they see the art in a way that I think is different from curators and other museum workers. What they have brought to the table, particularly in these past couple of years, has not only attracted recognition for the museum, but brought in grants and funding too. A well-supported Teaching Artist can change lives. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. 

6. Anything else you want the museum to know?

I’ve spoken up many, many times at the museum now, in ways that I honestly never expected of myself. I think that the museum has heard enough from me now as an individual, and it’s time for us all to speak together about the things that really matter. 

7. The people of Sonoma Valley? 

I’d love the people of Sonoma Valley to know what a privilege and a joy it has been for me to be able to help make programs like A.R.T.S. possible. I hope everyone will come to the museum in the next few weeks to see the incredible work their students have done in partnership with classroom teachers and the Teaching Artists. I guess I’d also love people to know that this is their museum too, and that how they see and envision and experience it matters. They have a voice here too. I hope they will use it to help us all move forward together in a positive way. This is where I live, this is my home, and Sonoma Valley has my heart.  

Help the Staff of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art gain voluntary recognition for our union. Sign and share our petition today!

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