Lesson in the Power of Art

By on December 10, 2023

Mary Ann Remer holds up mini holiday canvases as examples of what her Expressions students will be creating. (Photo credit Mary Ellen Riddle)

Mary Ann Remer tries to give students a good day

Mary Ann Remer grew up always asking “Why.” The Kitty Hawk artist’s curiosity helped educate and form her. Remer gently channels strength and collected knowledge to students in her art classes by offering choices that lead to empowering oneself. In December, she will be leading a workshop called Expressions that is offered through Dare Arts’ Power of Art program.

Remer, a practicing artist and self-taught teacher, spent years taking art classes around the world. She’s won multiple awards in places stretching from Manteo to Maracay, Venezuela.

Through her varied experiences, she picked and discarded what did and did not work for her in a classroom setting. While the artist does not consider herself an art therapist, she sees how her self-honed teaching techniques bring a sense of accomplishment to her students. “My thing is all about possibilities,” says Remer. “’What if I do this?’ These little possibilities that art offers can lead to a good day.”

Dare Arts’ Power of Art program works to empower its participants. The program has included a variety of workshops including painting, sing-alongs, chair yoga, drumming, and journaling to name a few. The classes are offered to a variety of demographics, including participants with disabilities such as cognitive decline. Instructors have worked with a number of area groups including GEM (Gentle Expert Memory Care) and the Outer Banks Dementia Friendly Coalition, Monarch, which is for adults with developmental delays, and Senior Sessions, which works with older adults in the community.

The Expressions workshop is for cancer patients, caregivers, family members and survivors throughout Dare County. It was funded through a grant from Outer Banks Health in 2019, and the grant was expanded to cover additional programs under the Power of Art umbrella.

Before participating in the Power of Arts Program, Remer led multiple art classes for GEM. The participants worked on a painting and a mixed media collage project. Remer felt like the students liked the change of pace from being at home.

“And I feel like those people felt like I’m doing something and I’m coming home with a project I did today,” says Remer. “So, I think it’s an accomplishment., it’s fun. it’s camaraderie. it’s the whole package.”

Participants in Remer’s Expressions workshop will create a mini-holiday canvas using paint, stencils and sparkling embellishments. They choose stencils to form shapes such as holiday ornaments, trees, candles, winter hats and mittens to interest not only those who celebrate December holidays, but also the season. Choices include colors and shapes to use and where to place them. Having many supplies to choose from entices participants to decide exactly what they want to do. “It’s allowing people to know that they have a choice, and it’s valid,” says Remer.

Making choices is one of Remer’s strong suits, and she remembers hearing during her life journey that if you did not know how to draw the human figure, you weren’t an artist. That did not sit well with Remer who had zero interest in figure drawing. While she did take a figure drawing class, abstraction was her thing, and she stuck to it. The walls of her lengthy studio are covered with her abstract mixed media works that can include a mix of paint, paper and collage materials, color, texture, patterns, drawing, and printmaking. This wide variety of supplies allows Remer to be bedazzled by choices.

Armed with a passel of colorful supplies, choices and possibilities, Remer gives all her students the opportunity to have a good day.

 The free Expressions workshop will be held December 13, 2 p.m.- 4:30 p.m., 300 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Manteo, DareArtsInfo@gmail.com.


See what people are saying:

  • Glenn

    Thank you, Ms. Remer for sharing your wonderful talents with our communities. Happy holidays!

    Sunday, Dec 10 @ 7:31 pm