Jen Fosheé remembers growing up in San Antonio and visiting museums and galleries with her parents, especially the Blue Star Gallery. Fosheé’s mom was a nurse and her father a doctor, but they both appreciated art. Fosheé also remembers making the hospital rounds with her doctor dad when he was working with kids.
During her visits to her dad’s lab, Fosheé shares, “I remember that the colors of the bacteria in the petri dishes looked beautiful to me.”
In school, Fosheé preferred to play in the art corner with glue and figurines rather than go out for recess. Visual recognition creativity came early to Fosheé.
When the family traveled, Fosheé was especially drawn to visually interesting cities like St. Augustine, Florida, New Orleans, and Charleston, South Carolina. It is not too surprising that all of these early experiences helped direct the impressionable art lover toward a career in art education.
Not only does Fosheé teach art to students at Washington Elementary in Sherman, she is the Sherman ISD elementary art facilitator.
“Our challenge became creating a district-wide, cohesive and intensive art program that supported student success and achievement at all campuses,” she said.
Fosheé is part of the elementary art curriculum writing team which presented the new art curriculum and its goals to the administration last year.
This curriculum has been so successful, Fosheé has been invited to participate in the development of a stronger curriculum for the upper grades through high school. One of the reasons for Fosheé’s success is her enthusiasm for art.
“If I want to get others excited about art, I need to be excited about art!” she exclaimed.
Fosheé is a self-proclaimed “Air Force brat.” She was born on Keesler Air Force Base and then her family was restationed on to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
Fosheé still likes to travel and recently took a life-changing trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, with a group of artists through Bellissima Art Escapes organized by mixed-media artist Kathie Vezzani.
“Two of my favorite artists, Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple, also traveled with us as our workshop hosts,” Fosheé said. “Kathie likes to build tribes of artists.”
One day, the artist tribe spent the day in the hills in a local artisan community of Jacobo y Maria Angeles of San Martin Tilcajete. This is where Fosheé said they created some of the finest alebrijes in all of Oaxaca.
“The alebrijes are brightly colored sculptures made of the local copal wood carved of fantastical creatures, most referencing animals from the Zapotec calendar,” Fosheé said.
In the evening, Sonheim guided the artists through a lesson of creating their own alebrije-inspired animals using the blind contour method of drawing.
“We then added brightly colored patterns to represent the designs on the alebrijes,” Fosheé said. “On another one of our excursions, we visited a nearby cochineal farm which cultivates La Grana Cochinilla used as a natural dye product. Cochineal (cochinilla in Spanish) is a parasite that grows on prickly pear cactus paddles. It has been used to produce a vibrant red tint since pre-hispanic times and is used in a number of applications from textiles, art, foods and more.”
Fosheé returned to the U.S. greatly inspired by the brightly colored art of the Oaxacan area, especially the alebrijes.
“When I arrived home with my sketches, cochineal dye and mezcal, I knew what I had to do,” she said. “I kept the spirit of Oaxaca close at heart as I sat down to create! I began creating indigenous animals of my home state of Texas, one being the armadillo, which is the official state small mammal.”
Another one of Fosheé’s inspirations, that was already deep in her soul, was growing up in San Antonio. A city with a lot of Mexican influence, Fosheé was inspired by the bright colors.
“Out of all the animals I created upon my return, this alebrije-inspired armadillo became special to me as he is a personal symbol of my creative experience of Oaxaca,” she said. “The reds, oranges and purples represented were created with the cochineal dye and mixed inks that were cut with the mezcal I purchased while in Oaxaca … and no, I didn’t eat the worm. He (the armadillo) also culminates the vivid colors of Mexico and of the artisans of Oaxaca.”
Fosheé’s educational background included earning her bachelor’s degree in studio art for sculpture ceramics at the University of Florida in Tampa where she also worked as a lab assistant. Besides ceramics, Fosheé studied photography, chainsaw sculpting and even wall building.
She worked three years as the assistant curator and exhibition designer at the Museum for Southwestern Art in Augusta, Georgia, and then was hired as an art teacher in Burke County, Georgia under a provisional contract where she taught for eight years: four years with third through fifth grades and four years with grades nine through 12. She won the teacher of the year award her last year there.
Even before the end of the year, Fosheé was hired to come to Sherman to teach.
And now, she says art is so important in her life.
“110 percent,” she said.
Art is something Fosheé does every day and as much as possible. At a time when some school districts are questioning the importance of art in the curriculum and cutting back on staffing in the visual arts field, Fosheé asks, “What would I have done if there was no art school?”
Fosheé has participated in many of the Grayson College Visual Arts shows at the 2nd Floor Gallery. She has shown her work at the 413 Makers. Fosheé is currently participating in the Small On The Wall Exhibit X at the MK Gallery along with 32 other artists.