Hermitage Artist Retreat in Sarasota gives Florida teachers a chance to let their creative juices flow

A group of Florida art teachers has been selected to participate in a very prestigious art retreat near Sarasota.

While landscapers are hard at work transforming the nine-acre Hermitage Artist Retreat, music teacher and musician Kayleen Justus is working on her craft.

"It's really nice to just have some time purely where I can focus on playing music," she said. "That I enjoy, you know, study and to play, just for pure enjoyment."

Justus is a high school music teacher from Tallahassee. She's one of the teachers selected to participate in the State Teachers Artist Residency program.

"In my normal schedule, there is almost no time to seriously dig in and study a piece in the way that I would like to. And so this will just allow me the luxury of time in order to do that," Justus said.

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For 14 years, the Teachers Artist Residency program has been providing rest and inspiration for artistic teachers.

"They can come here and resume or pursue that project that they've always wanted to and haven't had time to get to or spread out a little bit and get to that next great project that they've had on their mind," James Monaghan, program director for Hermitage Artist Retreat said.

The program selects five teachers from the state of Florida. They get a two-week residency of uninterrupted time to get their creative juices flowing again.

"We pour all of our energies into our students. And so having the time to, to work on our own material is precious," said Greg Burbdick, a theater arts teacher in Polk County. "So this is a huge opportunity to focus on the work that I do."

Vanessa Watkins is a stained-glass artist. This is her first year as an art teacher. She said the nine-acre beachfront property on Manasota Key is an incredible place.

"I've been really inspired by the local foliage and scenery," said Watkins. "And especially the sea turtles nesting right now. So I think I'm going to create a stained-glass panel that is sea turtle inspired."

The group will have a showcase on July 12 at the Hermitage’s beachfront campus. For more information, click here.


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