"a lasting impact"
By Annascott cross
Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.
- Solomon Ortiz
Lori Gardner has touched the lives of over 12,000 students locally over her years as an art teacher. Growing up in Fuquay-Varina, Lori was an artist from an early age. In elementary school she had notebooks full of fashion and architecture designs. Her school, Lincoln Heights, taught things like mask making instead of standard art classes, so she was exposed to a variety of art forms. In middle school, she was able to be an art teacher’s assistant for two years as an elective, which introduced her to the world of teaching. Her work really took off, though, in high school, where she took four years of art in addition to two independent art studies. Her teacher then, Cynthia Kennedy, along with her elementary school art teacher, Jim Hunt, remain an inspiration to her in her work today. The year she graduated, Lori was the Art Student of the Year, and went on to go to Meredith College to pursue a Fine Arts degree with concentrations in ceramics, wheel pottery, and art history in addition to her teacher certification. She chose Meredith because of their strong art and teaching programs, where you get to teach from day one.
When she got married to her husband of twenty-four years, she moved to his family farm in Buies Creek and began teaching in nearby schools in Wake and Harnett County. She has taught in a variety of settings, including private lessons, public elementary and middle schools, private camps, and also does consultation work on high schooler’s art portfolios. She says that she loves teaching kids how to express emotion, along with the technical skills and mechanics. She also loves teaching portraiture and oil pastels. Lori shares that her biggest goal in teaching is to grow her students without changing their innate style. One of the ways that she does this is by taking away something, such as a paintbrush, that brings them comfort as they work. This forces them to think outside of the box and takes away the intimidation factor since every child is having to try something new. She currently teaches at Harnett Central Middle School, where she was voted teacher of the year during the 2017-2018 school year.
On her own, Lori loves painting anything with interesting lighting. In addition to using acrylic paints, she also does fabric and textile dyeing, portraits, architectural renderings, and murals. She shares that her style used to be tight and realistic, but now is more impressionistic. She uses a lot of layers, and says that she loves to create personable art that isn’t in your face, for example by painting things that represent someone. Lori’s inspiration for painting is her need to express, and that through painting, “You get to empty everything.” Experience is also a huge inspiration for her, both in nature and in seeing students overcome their doubts in art and succeed, many even going on to pursue careers in art. In addition to this, her high school teacher Cynthia Kennedy remains an inspiration in her life and work. In the future, Lori would like to spend more time on her work, trying different mediums and styles.
Lori continues to live in Buies Creek with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Her work can be seen on display in Dr. David P. Price’s dentist office in Lillington. To learn more about her and her work, contact her via email