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Indian Hill Artist in Residence: Meet Pam Kravetz
Pam Kravetz
Artist Pam Kravetz (Indian Hill Class of 1979) has had her creative work shown in 50+ exhibitions regionally and nationally, including the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center; she has worked 30+ years as an educator and is on the Artworks Board and Cincinnati Art Academy Board. This spring, she returned to Indian Hill High School as a featured Artist in Residence to share her artistic journey with current students as part of the Indian Hill School District’s Arts Conservatory. 

Indian Hill School District (IHSD): Ms. Kravetz, you recently spent time at Indian Hill High School working with our students collectively as a guest speaker and offering individual consultation for their pieces. First, thank you for creating the time and space to return home to do this – what an experience for our students! What was it like to come back to the place where you first learned to develop your artistic talents?

Pam Kravetz (PK): Surreal! In the very best of ways. The first word that came to mind to describe my experience returning to Indian Hill High School was one used for an art movement! Surreal(ism)! When I walked through the doors it felt like home! Checking in at the office reminded me of the fun I had doing the morning announcements my senior year. Then walking through the halls – I felt the same joy and excitement I had way back in the 70s! Yep! I’m that old! 

IHSD: Tell us about your artistic journey since you left Indian Hill – where did your studies take you and what have you seen? 

PK: The Indian Hill Art Department – educators Larry Bernard and Pam Hall – championed me, my art, and my post-secondary education. I owe a lot to them! I headed to the University of Cincinnati (UC), Design, Art, Architecture & Planning (DAAP) to major in fine arts, and to receive my Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing and ceramics. I had an amazing experience at UC. My art education was spectacular, and I was very active on campus. Believe it or not, I became the Bearcat mascot for two years, and was the captain of the squad my second year – I’m pretty sure I’ve developed those skills from being in the drama department during my time at Indian Hill. My favorite role was Winnie the Pooh, kinda like a Bearcat I guess!

After graduating from UC, I drifted away from my art-making for a number of years. Friends suggested I become a docent at the Contemporary Arts Center and that was exactly what I did! I never thought I would ever be a teacher. But as a docent I fell in love with talking about art, art history, education, and creating with other people. So – I went to the University of Miami and majored in arts education, and received my master’s degree!

I had a wonderful career teaching art at Harrison High School for 30 years. I loved teaching and received lots of accolades and awards, which I absolutely cherish. But – I was missing creating and making art of my own and so … I began to spend time developing that side of me when I was not hanging out with my son, Max. I’m now retired from teaching but continue to teach workshops, do artist talks and create my own art. I have work right now at the Contemporary Arts Center, and I have shown at Cincinnati Art Museum, the Weston Art Gallery, just to name a few. You can see much of my recent art and activities in the arts community on my website

My time in Indian Hill nourished my lust for learning, and I continue to learn, grow, and create to this day.

IHSD: What has been your favorite, or most memorable part of the artistic journey for you?

PK: I know, it’s so cliché to say, but I cannot pinpoint just one most memorable memory! I have been so fortunate in my art-making journey that I have had an incredible career with so many wonderful opportunities to show my work. I am very proud of the artwork I have at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, with over 180 pieces there in hallways, waiting rooms, and patient rooms. I have worked with patients, doctors, and caregivers to create a dynamic body of work that I am very proud of. 

My most recent show titled “I think my uncle Gershun was a Golem” (at the Weston Art Gallery in downtown Cincinnati) is something I’m particularly proud of. I’ve never dealt with serious subject matter in my work; I like to be playful and light and joyful. But for this exhibit I wanted to honor my dad and his history of growing up in rural Kentucky in the 30s and 40s as a Jewish person dealing with antisemitism. I was able to tell a very difficult story in a way that embraced the art that I love to create, to honor my father and my mother, and educate people along the way. It challenged me in a way that I had not been challenged before.

IHSD: What do you hope our students learn from their study of the arts?

PK: There is so much to learn from studying the arts. The arts are the heart of humanity. The arts bridge ethnicity, culture, race, time. They are the great connector. I hope that when people study the arts, they understand that if maybe painting isn’t their thing, or playing an instrument isn’t their thing, but to look at, listen to, appreciate, and support the arts can be their thing. I would always tell my students when I was teaching that doing something – having a hobby, an interest, something that isn’t your job, isn’t about your family, isn’t about cleaning your house – but something that belongs only to you is so important and so valuable in creating a happy holistic person. So maybe you like to garden, maybe like to work on cars, maybe like to bake, maybe you do like to paint. But finding something that belongs only to you and your time creating is a pretty magical thing. 

IHSD: What advice would you give to the art students of today – those who are serious about pursuing a lifetime of art creation, such as you have accomplished?

PK: Being an artist isn’t a choice, it’s who you are. It’s in your heart, your soul, your brain, and your being. A life in the arts can be challenging, a 9-5 job might not be in the cards for you. But you’re going to have to hustle, follow through, do what you say, hit your deadlines, always go above and beyond expectations! Know your work but be open to criticism. Look to the people/artists that you admire. Challenge yourself, keep learning, don’t take no for an answer and follow your dreams!

IHSD: Any parting thoughts? 

PK: School and our journey through life isn’t always easy for everyone, and, especially as artists we don’t always fit in - we tend to be the square peg in the round hole. That’s OK! Actually, sometimes it can be really exciting. Honor your artist heart and honor the unique human that you are. It took me a very long time to figure that out. And I hope that any advice I give you might make your journey a little faster. I was not a very strong student academically and struggled for my entire educational career. I found those teachers, friends, family members who encouraged me, supported me, and helped me along the way. I hope you find those people in your life too.

Photo caption: Artist Pam Kravetz (Indian Hill Class of 1979) was featured as an Artist in Residence, recently sharing her creative journey with current Indian Hill High School art students as part of the Indian Hill School District’s Arts Conservatory.