Anne Magratten: Engaging with students’ inner worlds through the creative process

photo of art instructor Anne MagrattenAnne Magratten, faculty member in the Visual Arts Program at Linn-Benton Community College, has taught art in colleges and universities, and minimum to maximum security prisons. She has seen its benefits for students from all walks of life.

“Art is something that can really enrich a person’s life - from those professionally using and selling art to the majority of the students I work with, who are there because it is personally enriching.”

Magratten started her own educational journey at a community college in northern California. She had received a scholarship to a fine art college but was uncomfortable asking her parents for the remaining money to attend.

While studying at a community college, Magratten realized what an incredible value she was receiving there. The classes were so affordable that Magratten was able to study painting and drawing—her main areas of emphasis—but also book arts, ceramics, design, photography, and more.

“It gave me a very diverse foundation,” she said. “It was an incredible learning environment, and I was receiving this really beautiful mentorship from my instructors.”

While Magratten’s friends at university were in classes of 600 students, she was in classes of 20 and valued the opportunity to talk with her instructors about things both related to and outside the class subject.

Her grades at the community college enabled her to transfer to a small women’s college to finish her bachelor’s degree and from there she pursued a master’s degree in fine art at the University of Oregon. “My experience made me realize that we should be doing everything we can in our own communities to create opportunities for others … especially in art,” said Magratten.

After graduation, Magratten sought to teach in community colleges, where she felt she would be able to serve a broader group of students. 

And she did.

While working various part-time teaching positions to make ends meet, she had the opportunity to teach art in Oregon’s prison system.

“I knew I liked teaching art, but it was shocking to me … just the way the students there responded to an educational opportunity – it was so gratifying.” When Magratten was offered the full-time faculty position at Linn-Benton Community College, she made sure that she could continue working inside correctional facilities. 

At LBCC Magratten teaches all levels of drawing as well as figure drawing and painting, design, and more. photo of artwork painted by Anne Magratten

“One of the most beautiful things about my job,” she said, “is that I’m able to engage with students about their inner world. I get to open their sketchbooks. On those days – I have the best job that I could possibly imagine.”

Magratten also serves as the faculty advisor for the college’s art galleries. 

LBCC’s unique gallery structure allows for student gallery coordinators. Each year, students compete for positions that will fund six credits of scholarship for each term that they work with one of the college’s galleries. During the term, the students get a “very intense” mentorship and learn about the function of the gallery, how shows are arranged and curated, the hosting of receptions for artist talks, fundraising, and other components of running a gallery.

Magratten has been steadily pushing to expand the number of student gallery coordinators.

“I believe that experience in arts administration and experience in a gallery gave me so much perspective as a young artist ... I want students to have those insights,” she said.

Insights such as what percentage the gallery retains versus what the artist will get when a work is sold, in what types of galleries the artists’ work will be insured versus not, the elements of an artist’s statement, the process of coordinating a sale, and the experience of talking with an artist when they come to install their work.

“Anxiety and fear are not just applicable to the creative process. They’re applicable to that feeling we have when we say ‘I don’t know if I can do this thing …. I don’t know if I’ll ever to be able to do it and I want so badly to do it’,” she said.

Magratten is all about helping students push through that feeling to reach success. She does it with budding artists, and with the student gallery coordinators.

“I want to provide students with as much meaningful experience as possible that enriches them, that gives them meaningful lines on a resume and the confidence to be able to say, ‘I can do a show in that space because I’ve had experience doing this’.”

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Read more about the Visual Arts Program and LBCC’s art galleries

View Magratten’s artwork at her website. She recently completed an illustration project with a close friend. The resulting children’s book, Listless Llama (about a little llama who longs to travel) was created for her friend’s daughter; for each copy purchased of the second book, Maribel Plans a Party a copy of Maribel y la fiesta de Paco is donated to a child in Guatemala. 

Magratten serves as faculty advisor to the Gender & Sexuality Alliance at LBCC.

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