After Lab, teacher will pursue own art


Matt Petres

After teaching for 32 years and starting Lab’s sculpture program, Mirentxu Ganzarain retires to spend more time on her art. An exhibition of Ms. Ganzarain’s mixed media work, titled “Humans, Spirits and Power,” will be displayed in Gordon Parks Arts Hall starting June 3.

Sahana Unni, Features Editor

Soft music plays in the background of Room N308 in Gordon Parks Arts Hall, providing a peaceful and meditative environment for students to express themselves creatively. After brief directions, Mirentxu Ganzarain’s students are able to sculpt, create and ask questions as they learn about the importance of art throughout humanity and dive deeper into their work.

After teaching art at the Laboratory Schools for 32 years, Ms. Ganzarain is retiring at the end of the 2021-22 school year to further pursue her career as an artist. She is currently working on projects to submit to potential exhibits and planning on going to her second artist residency in Italy.

“I want to focus on my own art practice, and it’s been great teaching, but now my interest is more focused in that direction,” Ms. Ganzarain said, adding that her artwork would be displayed in the school’s Corvus Gallery. “I’ve been upping the amount of time that I spend on my work and now that’s where the bulk of my interest is.”

During her time teaching at Lab, Ms. Ganzarain says she is proudest of incorporating 3D art into the curriculum, through establishing ceramics and sculpture courses.

“I think I’ve impacted a lot of lives,” Ms. Ganzarain said. “Kids come back, sometimes even as adults. Some are artists, some are not, but they talk about the process of exploring themselves through art as having an impact on their lives, and I think that establishing a sculpture program for the school has been a great benefit to students who want to continue in art because there are very few high schools that have a sculpture program.”

To honor Ms. Ganzarain’s time at Lab and showcase her work, fine arts teacher Gina Alicea is curating a show of her work for the Corvus Gallery beginning June 3. 

“One of the reasons I wanted to honor her is that as visual artists here, we do our own work in addition to teaching, and it is a difficult task to keep your art career alive as well as your teaching career because teaching takes up most of our time,” Ms. Alicea said, “so to really dedicate our time away from school to creating art is a really big dedication, it’s a passion of ours.”

After observing students at schools without art programs, Ms. Ganzarain had to adjust to teaching at a school that emphasizes the arts.

“When I came here, kids had been exposed to a lot of art, either at home or through their travels,” Ms. Ganzarain said. “It’s a more privileged population, and I found that their need for art is very different. They aren’t starving for it, but they don’t quite understand the importance of it in terms of what it does for humanity, so I had to refocus. It wasn’t just feeding the hungry, it was more working on the more advanced topic of the meaning of art in history and in humanity.”

Having worked with Ms. Ganzarain for eight years, fine arts department co-chair Allison Beaulieu turns to her colleague for advice and guidance. 

“She’s very very thoughtful, very patient and she is definitely passionate about the arts program here at Lab,” Ms. Beaulieu said. “She’s very thoughtful about how she wants to move our program forward. How children learn or how students learn and just the importance of the arts.”

Although Ms. Ganzarain cherished seeing her students develop and grow as artists, she is looking forward to the next part of her career.

“It’s been a fun trip in my experience,” Ms. Ganzarain said. “Not just a trip, but a really fun trip.”