The Joy of Painting for Your Community: SEM Welcomes Ms. Butski

By Elle N.

Last year, Buffalo Seminary said farewell to its highly respected school art teacher of eight years, Ms. Caitlin Cass. Although we wish Ms. Cass the best of luck on her artistic journey as an Assistant Studio Art Professor at the University of Nebraska at Oklahoma, SEM knew that there were some big shoes to fill in the art department. 

And the school found just the perfect person for the job. 

This year, our school enthusiastically welcomed Ms. Tricia Butski to the SEM community. Growing up in Niagara Falls, Ms. Butski has lived in the Buffalo area her whole life. 

Her teaching experience is nothing short of expertise. In the past, she was a college professor at University at Buffalo, Niagara Community College, Erie Community College, and SUNY Fredonia. Her first artistic inspiration came from her childhood when she would watch Bob Ross on his show, “The Joy of Painting.” Art became a passion for Ms. Butski in high school when she realized that she wanted to pursue a career in her creative interests in some way. Her top interests were artistic therapy and teaching. 

At SEM, the classes she teaches include: Intro to Drawing, Basic Painting, Mixed Media, Foundations and Abstractions, and the freshman ArtsEye Class alongside Ms. Drozd, chair of the fine arts department and theatre teacher. In the words of Ms. Butski, “Artseye is awesome, I’ve never had the opportunity to teach a class like that before, so that’s totally new to me.” 

When she’s not in the art gallery, Ms. Butski loves to collect plants, crochet, hike and spend time outside. When she creates art outside of school, she enjoys using charcoal and graphite in her work. One of the many things she loves about art is how it contributes to connecting with the greater community. In fact, Ms. Butski actively paints murals throughout the city of Buffalo as a way to share what she loves with others. “The most important way that I connect with the community is through public art,” she said. “Public art is an artist’s gift to their community, [a] way of telling the community that you care about them and that you see them and that they’re important. [Public] art is for everybody,” she exclaimed passionately. She also created several wall murals for the Albright Knox Art Gallery. 

Ms. Butski feels that her mission is to help students to find their inner creativity and understand that “everybody is an artist.” She helps students to build confidence and find individuality in their work. “I want to show students that through time and practice anyone can be good at art and art is a way to express yourself,” she said. In the words of Fiona M. ‘24, a student in Ms. Butski’s Intro to Drawing class, “Ms. Butski is a great teacher and she helps everyone improve upon the skills they already have.” 

As a former student who attended a small private high school, which had a dynamic similar to that of SEM, Ms. Butski felt a sense of familiarity in Buffalo Seminary. “I am just so excited to be here. One of the most wonderful things about SEM is that it feels like home, and that’s what I was looking for.”

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