Eugena “Gena” Fields is a professional art educator and has taught and studied art in Portland most of her life. She has a Bachelors of Art in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking, and a Masters Degree in Education, both from Portland State University. During her time in college, she also painted murals for children’s spaces and taught art part time so she could spend more time with her own children. She has been teaching art for the past 13 years, and has taught at almost all levels, including preschool, in the Forest Grove and David Douglas school districts. Her most recent position prior to Park Academy was at a K-12 charter school in North Portland, where she was able to collaborate with colleagues and create art lessons that were based in the constructivist learning approach.
Whether working with elementary or secondary students, Gena wants to ensure students are made aware of the culture and history surrounding artworks, artists, art movements and genres. Understanding the contexts in which art is and was created, helps students to see how artists reacted to the world in which they lived. When students learn the history surrounding art, they are able to put art into a perspective that students can relate to. It truly makes an artist more “real” to students. She also explores many different art mediums with students and gives demonstrations and time to practice and build skills.
When thinking about what kind of lessons and projects that would be both challenging yet attainable for Park students, she referred back to her teacher education training she received at Portland State University. One of the books that she read in grad school was titled The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. The book refers to drawing as a way of seeing things differently. She is passionate about helping students to “see” with their right brain.
In art classes, students are asked to access their right brain daily. Reducing the use of your left brain may seem unfamiliar and very strange for most of us, but not for dyslexic children. As a teacher she works daily to take away many barriers and anxieties around drawing. As students become more comfortable drawing and using new mediums, they begin to embrace their right brain as a gift. She firmly believes that all students are capable of drawing if they practice at it regularly. Gena assigns each student at every grade level a sketchbook that they use throughout the year to sketch, brainstorm, take notes or doodle. As long as they are practicing and challenging themselves, they will build the skills they need to create a “successful” piece of art.
Gena did not realize until college that being an artist was an integral part of who she was. It was her love for art that led her to being an artist, which soon transformed into the goal of being an art educator. She believes that being both an artist and an educator, she has the added opportunity to share her talents and enthusiasm with children and adolescents who need and appreciate art. Her educational philosophy has grown out her life experiences and personal beliefs that the arts humanize the curriculum and are intertwined with all forms of knowing.
Gena is a Portland native and grew up in the Woodstock neighborhood. She enjoys cooking, gardening and crafting with her two daughters. Family is very important to her, which is why she purchased a home six blocks from where she grew up, and never really left her neighborhood!