Artist and teacher brings new art form to Jonesborough

Contributed To The Press • Dec 30, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Kay Grogg, a veteran art and photography teacher with over thirty years in the Washington County school system, joined the faculty of the McKinney Center last year as a teacher in a new form of art known as “Zentangle.”

Grogg, who earned her Master of Arts in Education from Tusculum College, took a master class and earned a certification in the Zentangle method during a five-day intensive in New England, with the founders of the form, along with 109 other teachers from across the world. A large group of teachers from Taiwan attended, in order to learn the method, so they could use it with their autistic students as a way to help them create and focus, and experience the victory of completing a piece of art.

“Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images, using repeated patterns. In addition to designing a lovely piece of art, the method increases focus and creativity, while reducing stress and anxiety,” Grogg says of the form. “I use it in my classes at school, and the effect it has on the students is incredible. It boosts their confidence, because everyone, whether they consider themselves an artist or not, can do it.” 

Grogg also mentions the calming effect that Zentangle has on her students. “It has a sort of Zen-like quality, it is very relaxing.”

In describing how it works, she says it is a sort of metaphor for life. “You start with a pencil with no erases, just like in life you can’t go back and fix mistakes, but you can adapt, and make different choices. The teachers in this method say there are no mistakes. You just go in a new direction.”

In helping students discover new directions after a perceived mistake, she helps them discover that they can continue to work on and develop the piece, without going back, and end up with a small masterpiece that incorporates the mistake into a new design, based on that “new direction.”

She says many of her students, both adult and teenagers, use it to relax and meditate and describes the ease of the form as one stroke, one line at a time.

In her one-day workshop at the McKinney Center, Grogg starts students with a 3½ inch square tile. They do a series of these tiles, and at the end of the class, put them together like a mosaic.

She says the biggest take away is that anybody can do this. A person does not have to be an artist to do it. But for those who are artists, she says that they report to her that doing Zentangle helps them to expand their creativity.

Grogg is the only teacher in the region who is certified to teach Zentangle. She will be teaching the Zentangle method at the McKinney Center this spring, as part of Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts.

To register for this new and fascinating art form, download the spring catalog at mckinneycenter.com or contact McKinney Center director Theresa Hammons at [email protected], or call 423-753-0562.


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