[media-credit id=1428 align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]As East’s digital arts teacher, James Meara works daily with students teaching them how to use mediums ranging from paint to Photoshop. This gives Meara the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects with students.
“The projects are my favorite thing: just seeing what everyone’s working on [and] talking about what they’re working on and finding ways to make it better and looking at ways [to be] successful,” Meara said. “Coming up with projects that hopefully students really enjoy that are fun — that’s my favorite thing.”
Meara grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas, along with his three sisters and three brothers. This includes his twin brother, whom he is about a minute older than. Meara is the third youngest child in his family.
Living in a rural town of about 6,000 people, Meara says that he has experiences from growing up that not everybody has. According to Meara, this “small town” setting gave him more freedom, allowing him and his friends to explore and go around the rural country as they pleased.
As a teenager, Meara became interested in art along with two of his brothers who are into art, one of which is now a working artist in Chicago. It was during this time that Meara began to think about becoming an art teacher.
After graduating from Fort Scott High School, Meara went on to attend Emporia State University where he got his BFA in painting as well as his education degree.
“It had been something I always thought I wanted to do,” Meara said. “I’d always really liked art a lot and I’d always really liked helping people a lot, and talking about art and I thought it would be really, really fun and really fulfilling and something that I would really like to do.”
The artwork that Meara creates on his own is influenced by his personal faith and spiritual ideas. According to Meara, this usually is influenced by what he is thinking about and what is on his mind at the time. Additionally, Meara gathers further inspiration by viewing the work of other artists whom he admires and examining their concepts and use of mediums.
Print-making is Meara’s favorite medium, which is something that he used a good amount back when he was in school. In addition, he also enjoys a little bit of photography as well as painting, drawing and other two-dimensional art forms.
In addition to teaching art at East, Meara is involved with Coalition, which is a school club that Meara sponsors. Meeting once a week, the group works with organizations, such as Love146 or Invisible Children, to create awareness about social issues. Additionally, the club holds events such as the Love146 Benefit Concert to fundraise money for these causes.
Meara sees the club giving students a “sense of empowerment”, allowing them to learn about “real, serious issues” and make a difference in the school and community.
“I always feel really inspired when I see the students and see how excited they get and see how interested they are in in these issues,” Meara said. “It’s something that we didn’t have at my school and something that I wasn’t really aware of, and these were things I hadn’t really hadn’t come in contact with until college. I think it’s just a really amazing thing for them to learn about in high school.”
Before coming to East, Meara student taught at SM South. Now, having been at East for the past three years, Meara has had the chance to really get an idea of what the school is like. His favorite part about being at East is seeing how involved the student body is.
“Where I grew up it was all about football and nobody was really interested in academics or anything like that,” Meara said. “So it’s really, it’s really inspiring and I really enjoy seeing how interested all the students are in all the areas.”