”I want to give my students opportunities that allow them to find their own artistic voices."
Elementary School, Art Specialist and Elementary Character Education
By Stacy Yuen
Growing up in a small bucolic town outside of Princeton, New Jersey, Abbey Day had the best of both worlds – the beauty of the countryside and easy access to big cities.
“The town of Belle Mead is situated halfway between Philadelphia and New York City so there was access to cultural experiences,” reflects Day. “My father’s work also took us to Amsterdam where the Van Gogh Museum of Art resonated with me.”
Hailing from a family of artists including painters, sculptors, a calligrapher/bookmaker and more, Day’s passion for art led her to pursue a dual degree in studio art and art history at Northwestern University where she learned how to interpret art with a critical eye.
A job at the education department at The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern sparked an interest in art museum education leading her to earn a master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I was drawn to museums and wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes,” explains Day. “And, I loved having profound conversations with visitors sparked by art, which later sparked my passion for character education.”
But it was in Hawaiʻi where Day says she fell in love as an artist. She arrived in the islands with her husband, who had a summer clerkship at a Honolulu law firm.
“I worked at The Contemporary Museum in Makiki and vividly recall the vibrancy of the colors around me while doing something as simple as waiting at the bus stop.”
Day stepped foot on Mid-Pacific’s campus in 2012 in a temporary role which led to a full-time position four years later. She now teaches art for 1st through 5th grade and 5th grade character education.
“I want to give my students opportunities that allow them to find their own artistic voices,” she says. “I teach technique and skill, but they determine how to apply it. Creativity flourishes when there are some boundaries, but what they make is totally up to them.”
She finds it fulfilling to see the growth in her students as well as to teach them that making mistakes is a part of growing.
“Art is the perfect medium to practice those mindsets. They see what happens when they make a mistake and how they can easily recover from it and it creates something that they are even more excited and proud of,” she explains. “This often leads to new and better ideas. That mindset is not exclusive to art, but something that you can do anywhere.”