Brookhaven’s Mississippi School of the Arts has welcomed a new visual arts teacher for this fall.
Brookhaven artist Brandy Land Johnson is MSA’s newest faculty member. A longtime art teacher in the area, Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in art from Mississippi College and a master’s degree in art education from the Art of Education University.
“I will be teaching two design courses and an advanced painting and drawing course in the first semester,” Johnson said. “Then, in the second semester, I will have a ceramics course, Painting I and II, and a mixed media course.”
Johnson was an interior designer and draftsman and taught for 11 years privately, at Faith Presbyterian and in the school districts of Lincoln County, Brookhaven and Brookhaven Academy.
“In college, I focused on interior design because my parents wanted me to get a trade,” Johnson said. “I did that for a while in Jackson and I liked it. But when I came back to Brookhaven, I tried, but I never loved it. So I tried to teach some and I loved teaching, so I went back to get what I needed to teach (and) got my teaching license.
“We are delighted to welcome Brandy to our faculty. As a local artist and a native of Brookhaven, Brandy has demonstrated her talent for many years right here in our area,” said MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch. “We know his experiences will bring new perspectives to our students while bringing MSA deeper into our community in such a positive way.”
Johnson said she was thrilled to be in an environment where the arts are so valued and everyone is in the same mindset about them.
“The kids who are there want to be there and learn, and the administration appreciates that as well,” she said. “So we have great facilities and all the supplies we need – and sinks! I worked with buckets – It’s a dream come true. That’s all we want.
Being the only art teacher in a school can be tough, but “having people who understand my way of thinking or who think the same way” is a blessing, the educator said. “Now I am part of this group and I am not alone.”
Students who start classes Aug. 1 know they’re studying and developing skills they can use for the rest of their lives, Johnson said.
“They are likely to go into (artistic) careers and they wouldn’t have the opportunity without this school. It’s really exciting. It moves me,” she said. “I love these kids. I love these artists, and it’s good to see them realize their potential and make a living out of it.
Johnson said she wants her students to “know more than enough” when they get to college or university, to get scholarships and excel. And she wants them to gain confidence in their talents and in themselves.
“A lot of these kids don’t have a lot of confidence,” she said. “I want them to let me feel like they’re a talented person with skills that not everyone else has, and ‘I’m important’.”
Young artists considering attending the MSA should take it seriously and start preparing at least a year in advance, Johnson said, because it’s not an easy process.
“There is a process. You must have certain things in your wallet, so… take it seriously.
She knows that some of the students will have had a good artistic education and will know a lot, while others will be naturally good but have never had an artistic education.
“I want to help them. I want them to be the best.”
The new studio teaching space she will have is also a plus for Johnson.
“My favorite medium, personally, is watercolour. I would love to do a lot more,” Johnson said. “I will be in this great studio room for more hours in the day and hope to be able to do a lot more of my own work.”
Johnson wished his mother could see his new opportunity, but she passed away last year.
“My mother was my main teacher. Seeing this, I think she would be happy.