“Ms. Teng? Oh yeah, Kassie, right.”
“Nezzy? Oops, I mean Nez?”
If you have visited the Art Studios lately, you might have been privy to a conversation similar to the one above. It is one that my new colleague and I seem to keep having but we are making progress. It is also a conversation that represents this amazing close knit community of which I am proud to be a part.
In the fall of 2010, I was meeting students in my new Studio Art classes, the introductory art course that our Upper School students take before they move on to advanced art classes. There were numerous talented students that year, I recall, who went on to take many of our other advanced classes. Some of them would take classes each year, eventually enrolling in the AP Art and Design class as seniors. One of those students would do just that, and I now have the privilege and joy of working alongside her as she takes over Michael Frassinelli’s classes while he is away on sabbatical.
Nez Riaz graduated from Dana Hall in 2014 and went on to study illustration at RISD. From there she taught independent art classes, worked a stint at Candlewick publishing house and eventually found her way to illustrating her debut picture book, Bana, that was published by Simon and Schuster and released this past fall. She is currently working on her next book, Super Friday, while she teaches classes in Design, Architecture, and Studio Art at Dana Hall.
Working in a community where such meaningful connections are made between our members is amazing. For me as a teacher to have a former student with so many opportunities at her fingertips, then choose to return and continue that tradition with another generation of students is a beautiful moment. Listening to her bring her expertise into her teaching and forging new connections with her students is something of which we should all be proud to be a part of.
Please drop by the Dana Hall Art Gallery this month to see Ms. Riaz’s work in an exhibit that also includes the work of Devin Cole '06. On view will be a selection of images from her first illustrated children’s book, Bana, fine art artworks, as well editorial and educational images.
Image: Nez Riaz '14 poses with a self portrait she created when she was a student; the portrait is on display in the art studio.