Anita Welych has been teaching studio art at Cazenovia College for 28 years. Welych began her career at Cazenovia teaching two-dimensional art, including foundation level courses like color theory and print making, and has expanded into teaching history of architecture and interiors for the interior design program. She also teaches the professional sequence courses in Studio Art and Photography including portfolio preparation, internship and professional practices. “These are the courses that I feel strongly connected to because these are the courses that prepare our students for the professional world beyond college,” noted Welych.
Welych is passionate about teaching. “I really like teaching,” exclaimed Welych. “This is the key thing.” For Welych teaching is a partnership with her students. They embark on an exploration together. Students come to the classroom with their own set of experiences, ideas and backgrounds, and Welych believes that is just as valuable as what she brings. “The path changes from student to student, and class to class, added Welych. “It is always different and exciting.”
One of Welych’s favorite parts about teaching is advising students. “I work really closely with my students and I think that my goal is to work together with each student to fine tune their academic and professional plan so that they leave Cazenovia prepared in the best possible way for what comes afterword,” stated Welych. Welych helps students evaluate their interests so they can refine what courses they take and look for opportunities outside of school that will shape their background to make them extremely desirable when they get out into the workforce. “My goal is to help them find their way to what makes them happy,” added Welych.
Sometimes students just need a shoulder to cry on or to be able to vent when they are stressed or have other issues, and Welych’s door is always open for that too. “We’re really like a family,” added Welych. “We care about each other deeply. I can be there for each individual student and help them in the way they need.”
For Welych there are a lot of great things about the College, but one that stands out is that because Cazenovia is small, change is embraced and can be turned into reality more quickly than at larger institutions.” We are very nimble on our feet and people are largely open to new proposals,” noted Welych. The major in Arts Management came about because Welych believed that students needed a practical track to follow so that they had business skills along with arts skills. Welych partnered with colleagues and other people on campus to develop an innovative program that went to the state education department for approval. “It took a couple of years and there was a lot of research and work that went into the program, but you wouldn’t see that kind of thing happen anywhere else,” added Welych.
Welych’s own art practice is critical to what happens in her classroom. “I think that the best teachers are those that remain active in what they do,” offered Welych. In the last several years, Welych’s artwork has focused on environmental issues, particularly the extinction of endangered birds. Welych points out that while you can make art just for the sake of art, it gets limiting. At Cazenovia, students are encouraged to reflect the world they live in through art. “Sometimes I show a documentary and then have students create projects around that,” offered Welych. “Students will pick the topic, research it and then present the problem and solutions through their art. They learn a lot and it impacts them beyond the classroom.”
Welych wants parents to know that she will supports her students in learning to the highest possible level that she can, and she cares deeply for her students. She treats her students with all of the respect that they merit.
Welych’s final thoughts, “I’m always offering advice to current students and past students, but I can also offer advice to future students. Students should do what they love. They should work really hard at it. They should have hard times and good times. They should listen to everyone else, and then do what they need to do.”
Welych is a mixed-media artist of Colombian and Ukrainian heritage. She studied painting and printmaking at Cornell University, Syracuse University and the Universidad Nacional in Bogota, Columbia. She has received two Fulbright Grants to Colombia to study, teach and lecture at six universities across the country. Welych resided in Bogota for six years. Welych was co-director for Altered Space, a community-based gallery in Syracuse, N.Y., and from 2007 until 2014 served on the board for ArtRage Gallery which is dedicated to art that explores themes of social justice in Syracuse.