William Porter, photographed by Richard Grubola in 2008.
Written by Lindy Casebier, Guest Contributor to the Louisville Courier-Journal
Another new school year has begun, and since 1925, that has also meant another beginning for Children’s Fine Art Classes offered through Louisville Visual Art. Our name has changed over the past 92 years, but our programming and its outcomes have remained constant: teaching creativity and fostering the next generation of doers and problem-solvers in our community.
In the early years of CFAC, Mary Spencer Nay was inspired to pursue a distinguished career that would lead to the Marcia C. Hite professorship of painting at the University of Louisville. Her work is now held in the permanent collections of the Evansville Museum of Arts and Science and the Speed Museum.
Innovation and design were implanted in the mind of a young William Porter, who went on to serve as Studio Chief Designer at General Motors for three decades. He made his mark with the 1968 Pontiac GTO and the 1970-73 Firebird 400 and was a valued player in the world of automobile design. One of his teachers back when LVA was known as the Art Center Association School had been Mary Spencer Nay, proving directly how one child’s education can spread to help others.
Sculptor Ed Hamilton, another CFAC alum, attests that while other doors were closed to him, he found opportunity through the Children’s Free Art Classes program. Countless lives have been touched through his artistic interpretation of a young Abraham Lincoln and the unloading of slave boats at the edge of the Ohio River, as well as his impressive overall body of work that now graces landscapes across our country.
Gordon Brown, a former president and CEO of Home of the Innocents, led that organization through a period of unprecedented growth. He is a proud alum of CFAC and Shawnee High School who has never forgotten his roots and remains active today in the Portland neighborhood. Throughout his distinguished career, he has been a staunch advocate for the transformational and healing power of art.
Artist, educator and musician Carrie Neumayer has been a frequent art contributor to Louisville Magazine and an LVA instructor. She was a co-founder of the Louisville Outskirts Festival, which led to Girls Rock Louisville, a program aiming to empower female musicians in a supportive, inclusive environment. She was recently able to travel to Kazakhstan through a grant from the State Department to help work with youth interested in learning about creating art.
These are examples of the immense importance of art education in the lives of a few Louisvillians who, in their distinct ways, have all made a significant impact in education, commerce, healthcare, social services and, of course, the arts. Their contributions underscore the need for art education for all children. Art enhances our lives and our communities. Art causes us to question and to think. Art soothes and calms our collective souls. Through the years, art has been used to tell the story of those who came before. Exposure to and education in the arts does have a place in a civilized society.
As a creative hub now established in the Portland neighborhood, Louisville Visual Art is committed to removing barriers and building bridges throughout our community. With classes offered at more than 30 sites throughout Louisville Metro, Southern Indiana and surrounding counties, providing quality instruction to over 5,500 students annually, LVA is shaping the next generation of creative leaders, and is dedicated to enhancing our community through visual art education, community outreach and artist support. Check us out on social media and at louisvillevisualart.org
Lindy Casebier is the executive director of the Louisville Visual Art.