MSA welcomes new visual arts teacher

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven has welcomed a new visual arts teacher for this fall.

Brookhaven artist Brandy Land Johnson is MSA’s newest teaching staff member. A long-time art teacher in the area, Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in art from Mississippi College and is a master’s degree in art education from the Art of Education University.

“I will be teaching two classes of design and an advanced painting and drawing course the first semester,” Johnson said. “Then the second semester I will have a ceramics class, Painting I and II, and a mixed media (class).”

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Johnson has been an interior designer and draftsman, and has taught for 11 years privately, at Faith Presbyterian, and in the Lincoln County, Brookhaven and Brookhaven Academy school districts.

“In college, I focused on interior design because my parents wanted me to get an occupation” Johnson said. “I did that for a while in Jackson and I enjoyed it. But when I came back to Brookhaven, I tried it, but never loved it. So I tried teaching some and loved teaching. So I went back to get what I needed to be able to teach (and) got my teaching license.”

“We are excited to welcome Brandy to our faculty. As a local artist and native of Brookhaven, Brandy has demonstrated her talent for many years right here in our area,” said MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch. “We know her experiences will bring our students new perspectives while bridging MSA deeper into our community in such a positive way.”

Johnson said she is excited about being in an environment where the arts are valued so much and where everyone is in the same mindset about them.

“The kids that are there want to be there and learn, and the administration values it, too,” she said. “So we’ve got great facilities and all the supplies we need — and sinks! I’ve worked out of buckets — It’s a dream come true. It’s everything we want.”

Being the only art teacher at a school can be difficult, but “having people who understand the way I think or who think similarly” is a blessing, the educator said. “Now I get to be a part of this group and I’m not on my own.”

The students who begin classes Aug. 1 know they are studying and developing skills they can use the rest of their lives, Johnson said.

“They are likely to go to (arts) careers and they wouldn’t have the opportunity without this school. This is really exciting. It moves me,” she said. “I love these kids. I love these artists, and it’s neat to see them realize their potential and make a life out of it.”

Johnson said she wants her students to “know more than they needed to” when they get to college or university, to get scholarships and excel. And she wants them to build 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 leave me feeling they are a talented person with skills not everyone has, and ‘I’m important.’”

Young artists who are thinking about attending MSA should take it seriously and start preparing at least a year ahead of time, Johnson said, because it is not an easy process.

“There is a process. You have to have certain things in your portfolio, so … take it seriously.”

She knows some of the students will have had good art instruction and know a lot of things, while others will be naturally good but have never had any art teaching.

“I want to help them. I want them to be the best.”

The new studio teaching space she’ll have is also a benefit for Johnson.

“My favorite media, personally, is watercolor. I would like to do a lot more of it,” Johnson said. “I’ll be in this great studio room for more hours in the day and I hope to be able to do a lot more of my own artwork.”

Johnson would have liked her mother to be able to see her new opportunity, but she died last year.

“My mom was my main teacher. Seeing this, I think she would be happy.”