Jackson Hole Classical Academy's 6–12th grade visual arts teacher Tamara Callens is an award-winning artist who specializes in oil and watercolor painting, charcoal drawing, and mono-printing. Ms. Callens hails from the Pacific North Coast in California, where she began drawing professionally in junior high school. She eventually settled in the Mountain West, where she draws inspiration from the breathtaking landscapes and fascinating people.
Art has always been a part of Ms. Callens—something she always did but didn’t always think would turn into her life. As she grew older, she realized that life comprises walking along the path God charted out for you, which is not necessarily the path you would choose for yourself. Each experience, relationship, or encounter reveals more of your journey, and for Ms. Callens, art has been the consistent thread throughout her adventure.
This realization occurred in tandem with another: the best art arises when an artist possesses the wisdom to see things the way they truly are. Great artists begin with things they can see and then expand to what they cannot see. Great pieces are not photographic replications but are imbued with ephemeral interpretation—the artist can see beyond literal forms and capture the subject’s true essence. Ms. Callens believes an artist can gain this wisdom when they open their spirit up to God, but before they can sincerely listen, they must train their flesh.
To Ms. Callens, training in an atelier fashion is the best way to develop the requisite skills to transcend the literal and capture the invisible. The notion that truly great artists, musicians, or writers are natural geniuses is a common cultural misconception. Almost invertibility, great creative figures arise from enduring traditions and hundreds of tedious hours—you must absolutely master the craft before you can create art. Classical training, especially when instilled in an atelier fashion, is the tradition of craft: its students master replicating what they can see before they attempt to capture what they cannot. This is the lesson that Ms. Callens brings to our students at Jackson Hole Classical Academy.
Teaching art within classical education was revealed as a part of Ms. Callens’ journey: after moving to Jackson, she began to connect with collectors and teaching adult students, sharing her expertise and Teton-inspired work with the community. She met our Head of School, Polly Friess, at a collector’s home in 2014. This chance encounter did not blossom until seven years later, when Ms. Callens first noticed the Jackson Hole Classical Academy while driving home from an art lesson. She had driven by it for two years, but that day, it jumped out at her, and she felt a ping in her heart. When she arrived home, an email from Mrs. Friess was sitting in her inbox—an invitation to apply for an open art teacher position at the Academy. She thought to herself, “it must be the Lord,” and applied for the job.
Now in her second year of teaching at Jackson Hole Classical Academy, Ms. Callens seeks to instill the classical tradition in her students. She comes alongside students to help them develop their craft, and at the same time, help them discover themselves and their path through art.
Please visit Ms. Callens’ website to view her work, browse pieces currently for sale, or to initiate a commission request.
Ms. Tamara Callens has a lifetime of experience in the world of classical art. An award-winning and widely published artist, Ms. Callens studied techniques of the masters at the New York City Art Students League. In 2018, she was awarded the Versailles Foundation’s prestigious Munn Fellowship Artist Residency Award, which allowed her to spend three months living and painting in the gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny, France, with an honorary exhibition at the end of the fellowship. She was the Oil Painters of America National Award Winner in 2006 and was selected for the National “Art for Parks” Top 100 Best Paintings in 2002.
Nondiscrimination Policy: Jackson Hole Classical Academy admits students of any gender, race, color, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students. Jackson Hole Classical Academy does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, tuition assistance, athletic, arts or other school administrated programs.