Senior Spotlight: Shawnee Mission East’s Emma Chalk has a passion for teaching the arts

SM East senior Emma Chalk
SM East senior Emma Chalk

Emma Chalk knows she’s pursuing a career path that doesn’t look as bright as it once did, with arts programs facing cutbacks in public school districts.

The Shawnee Mission East senior will attend Kansas State University for secondary education and art. She wants to inspire young artists as a teacher, and plans to pursue her own creative interests on the side.

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Bio Blast

Emma Chalk
School: SM East
Sport: Bowling
College: Kansas State
Accomplishments: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Photography Scholar[/pullquote]

“(Adam) Finkelston is my teacher right now and he’s been a big inspiration to me,” Chalk said. “He not only teaches kids, he has his own magazine; he shows his work everywhere…He’s pushed me to be a better artist and I feel like I can be the same person in someone else’s life. Art is such a big part of my life and I know other kids love art just as much, but don’t have the person to push them, so I’m hoping to be that person.”

When Chalk was a Brownie, a photographer came to talk to her Girl Scouts troop. That’s when she first fell in love with the arts. She had a cheap camera and started taking pictures of anything and everything. Chalk says it all clicked for her during her sophomore year, when Finkelston pushed her to be her best. She was selected to participate in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Photography Scholars Program that year.

“That was a really cool program to be nominated for and even get into because they pick 15 students from around the Kansas City area,” Chalk said. “It was a big honor to be a part of that.”

She works mostly with alternative processes — different ways to developing or processing the photos. She also does more artistic stylization instead of a documentary style.

Chalk also got into ceramics more this year and is wanting to pursue that on top of teaching photography. Her favorite thing she’s created was chips and salsa bowls despite them cracking.

“For my AP concentration for photo, I’ve started to turn in my ceramics with my photography,” Chalk said. “I’ve been doing cyanotypes on top of my ceramics. I’ve been printing pictures on the ceramics after they’ve been fired.

“With cyanotypes it’s on the blue scale because that’s how the colors and the chemicals react to each other. I’m going back to film this semester for my independent study to start over and get a new perspective on shooting photography.”