Ms. Ourthiague was born and raised in the Central Valley of California and stayed close to home while she earned her Associate of Arts degree in Two-Dimensional Design from Fresno City College and then her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Art History from California State University, Fresno. In 2019, she graduated with honors from San Jose State University with her Master of Arts degree in Art History and Visual Culture. During her time there, she served as the Treasurer of the Art History Association and a Teaching Assistant to various undergraduate Art History classes. She also took great pride and pleasure in writing her Master’s thesis entitled He’s the Hero We Deserve: Batman as a Figure of Dominant Masculinity, which discusses topics such as comic book tropes, masculine identities, and visual representations of male heroes. Since graduating, she has presented her research at multiple conferences, both locally and nationally.
As a Subject Expert Teacher for Art and Art History, she loves introducing lesser known pieces of historical art into her lessons because it not only helps students understand various art styles more completely, it also gives them an opportunity to learn about artworks they may never have seen. Her main goal is to simply get her students excited about art: creating it, discussing it, critiquing it, and appreciating it.
Ms. Ourthiague worked at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley in 2017 as a Teaching Fellow but left to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a time. She has since returned, not only to California, but to the school that always made her feel welcome and appreciated! This is a school where your colleagues make you feel like part of the family on day one and will never hesitate to support you when you need help.
Her teaching philosophy is based upon a trifecta of foundational ideas: Encouragement, support, and positivity. Her classroom is a safe, fun space for fostering students’ love for art while they sharpen their newly-learned skills. She stays engaged with students during class while they work so they feel free to ask questions and feel supported while they learn and create. With some positive support and encouragement, most students will feel the freedom to be creative.
Ms. Ourthiague feels that students learn best when they are allowed to just go for it! Explanations and visual examples work very well at first but ultimately when students are able to try their hand at various art techniques, they have more fun while they learn to hone their artistic skills. Quick in-class art projects are a great way for students to understand basic techniques. Projects that are not incredibly time-consuming help students to practice their technique and revamp their original ideas. Sketch books are also a wonderful tool that allow students to parse out ideas, improve their skills, and work at their own pace.
A great way to learn what students know and remember about art is a type of word association activity. Ms. Ourthiague will call out the name of an artist or art style/period and her students will say words or phrases that they associate with that person or style. It helps to get conversations started as students begin to learn more about the topic at hand.
Though she swears she is a full-fledged adult, Ms. Ourthiague finds joy in reading comic books, playing video games, eating pizza, and collecting dinosaur trinkets. She most loves spending quality time with her Tonkinese cat, aptly named Nymphadora Tonks (shortened to Tonksy when she’s not in trouble).