R. Darden Bradshaw (upper right in red sweater with sunglasses on her head) stands with University of Dayton students and instructor Laura Hume (far left) atop the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence, Italy, during a five-week interdisciplinary course last summer. CONTRIBUTED

U.D. art educator is an award magnet

‘I felt honored to be in such illustrious company.’

As an assistant professor and area coordinator in Art Education at the University of Dayton, R. Darden Bradshaw is no stranger to awards, She has received 11 scholastic honors since 2012.

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One of those is the Deans Excellence Award she received in the College of Arts and Sciences at U.D. in 2014. She has garnered three prestigious honors within the past eight months.

Bradshaw has won local, state and national honors for her commitment to preparing the next generation of artists and educators. The National Art Education Association honored Bradshaw in March with its 2017 Western Region Higher Education Art Educator award. This distinction encompasses 16 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Nominations are made by individual NAEA members, state/province associations and special interest groups.

“These are my colleagues and peers in other states, whose research and teaching I admire. I felt honored to be in such illustrious company,” said Bradshaw, a Kettering resident.

In February, the Dayton Art Institute honored her with the 2017 Pamela P. Houk Award for Excellence in Art Education. Last November Bradshaw received the 2016 Ohio Art Education Association award in the higher education division.

“It’s been a nice year. My name was submitted to the OAEA, and I felt honored to be selected from among those who were nominated,” said Bradshaw.

When you receive a resume that is nine pages long, it usually shows a passionate commitment to a career choice. That commitment propelled her from a position as a middle school art educator in Arizona to the position she holds today.

“What I love about [my job] is helping future teachers prepare spaces for young people to grow and make meaning of their world through art,” said Bradshaw, who started her job at U.D. four years ago.

And what would be a phenomenal environment for students to study visual arts? That would be Florence, Italy, where Bradshaw and two other U.D. professors accompanied 26 students on an interdisciplinary trip last summer. She’s preparing another five-week student trip with political science instructor Natalie Hudson and sociology instructor Leslie Picca this summer.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn about art and art history in the space where the Renaissance took place. There’s so much history and art there, and so beautiful,” said Bradshaw. “It’s interesting watching young people’s eyes get opened to the power and beauty of art in Florence. A visual culture shows up in their daily experience while they are exploring.”

One of those iconic works of art they viewed last summer was “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli at the Uffizi Gallery. The mid-1480s painting depicts the goddess Venus emerging from the sea in a rich tapestry of vibrant color.

“It’s one of those works that is reproduced and shown all over in calendars, posters and book covers, but there is something transformative about seeing it up close and personal,” said Bradshaw. “Teaching abroad makes me more flexible and creative as a teacher. We’re using the city as our textbook, rather than meeting in the classroom.”

Graduates of UD’s art education program receive a professional studio degree with teacher licensure. This makes them a professional artist and licensed educator ready to walk into a classroom.

“My best compliment from teaching future art educators is seeing them in their classroom teaching and being very passionate about their job,” said Bradshaw. “It’s gratifying to know I’ve played a small role in helping them be the teacher they were meant to become.”

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Contact this contributing writer at PamDillon@woh.rr.com.

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