It's Not What is Seen . . .

Sandra Warren Gobar arrived to teach art at Middleburg Academy in late August and she has been exceptionally busy every day since then. But her talent is only half her story. She is a living lesson in perseverance and the power of a positive attitude. 

“My work expresses the unseen - not what is seen; it is beneath the layered, painted, or sculptured surface that is the untold blueprint of pain experienced in the soul - what my physical body endures - is heightened in a visual format for others to observe and to interact.”

As a teenager who grew up sketching and designing innovative clothes for herself, Sandra never imagined that her life would change dramatically at age 16 and she wouldn’t have use for those brilliant designs. Thirty-nine years 

Thirty-nine years ago, Sandra was the third person in the state of Virginia to undergo an 11-hour scoliosis spinal-fusion surgery. Every part of her twisted spine was broken and fused back together, and 2- steel Harrington rods were aligned next to her spine. Metal pins were inserted into her hips, her ribs were broken, and her shoulder blades were shaved.

Before the surgery she was told to make peace with God, as her orthopedic surgeon was unsure of the outcome. To prepare for this surgery Sandra was in full body traction for one week; after the surgery she was unable to move for one week for fear of ending up paralyzed. Instead of her beautifully designed clothes, she donned a 60 lb. full body cast that extended from the back of her skull to mid-way below her upper thighs with openings for her head, arms, stomach and legs. Sandra was imprisoned in this cast for nine months.

“I am passionate about teaching visual arts at Middleburg Academy the students here are truly amazing. They inspire me!” “Since arriving in late August I have enjoyed establishing a student chapter of The National Art Honor Society. After our official induction ceremony, the first artistic endeavor was The Glass Mural Project –students painted on two glass walls with images from traditional Christmas songs. It’s actually still on view in our school dining room.”

“During the Middleburg Academy fall open house, students embraced the opportunity to engage in the Ancient Art of Encaustic Painting which is the oldest painting technique still in use today, dating back to the ancient Greece and Egyptian use of heated beeswax.

 “As a museum educator, one of my first tasks was to designate an area on the third floor as a student gallery space. Wayne Paige, my department chair spearheaded this endeavor and many individuals are helping the gallery space become a reality.”

“This past week, four of my students’ works were accepted accepted into the regional Black & White exhibition sponsored by The Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville. Middleburg senior Heejung “Jamie” Yoo’s “Destiny” piece won a Merit Award.”

 “I enjoy learning from my students. We have a wonderful creative academic exchange of ideas in Photography, Ceramics, Art History/Museum Studies, AP Studio Art and the Independent Study Portfolio Development classes; and I’m very excited about teaching 3-D Printing and Encaustics In the fall of 2015.” 

“It’s important to engage the intellectual artistic realm where critical thinking, creative experimentation, and instructional techniques combine the analytical and intuitive senses to solve design challenges in all disciplines. Students in all of my classes are engaged in studio demonstrations, discussions, investigations of historical and contemporary masters and the critique of fellow students’ work.  

“One Friday out of every month I enjoy providing a smorgasbord of cookies for my students. We call our endeavor Art & Cookie Friday!” After earning a B.S. degree in Clothing & Textiles Sandra began her artistic career in Costuming with the Virginia Opera Association. She also worked for a number of years with the City of Chesapeake’s Commissioner of Revenue Office as a Business License Inspector/Special Police Officer.

In the Summer of 2014, Sandra completed the Yale Center for British Art Summer Teacher Institute - Expanding Literacies, and Extending Classrooms. She was also an Advisory Review panelist for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Sandra has spent the past 11 years with The Smithsonian Institution Associates as a Studio Arts Faculty Member teaching a myriad of visual art courses to life-long learners. She has vetted two watercolor art books by Harper Collins from the United Kingdom for Smithsonian Books. 

Her professional ties with The Arts Club of Washington originated in 2007, and she serves on the executive committee as one of their curators. 

Sandra’s tenure with The Corcoran College of Art & Design/ Corcoran Gallery of Art spanned 8 years, including five years as an Adjunct Professor in the Drawing & Painting Department and followed by three years as a Museum Studio Arts Educator/ Administrator for the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In the Corcoran’s Public Education Department Sandra was the Site- Manager & Instructor for the Corcoran ArtReach at THEARC, which is a year-round, studio– based museum, non-profit outreach program, providing free in-depth art programing to underserved communities in SE Washington, D.C.  

Sandra collaborated in designing curriculum, programming and exhibitions with, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Ballet and the Levine School of Music. 

Sandra completed advanced graduate studies at Parsons/ Paris School of Art & Design in France and L’Accademia De Belle Arti Lorenzo da Viterbo in Italy. Gobar completed the Teaching Lifelong Learning Strategies; Executive Functions in the Classroom from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University in 2006.

Sandra was awarded an Artist-in-Residency appointment in Drawing, Painting and Mixed- Media from The School of Visual Arts in Chelsea, New York. 

Gobar’s artwork and teaching philosophy was featured in The Hill Rag Magazine in 2006; Art and the City, Artist Profile: Sandra Warren Gobar; New York Cool.Com, a web based magazine in 2005 and numerous other publications. 

Gobar has exhibited in Paris, Italy, South Korea, New York, Maryland and Washington, DC. Part of the proceeds from her March 2015 exhibition at The Arts Club of Washington in Washington DC will benefit THEARC. “It’s so important to have compassion for everyone,” she added, “… because you really never know the journey of the person standing in front of you.”