Kate Elkins

Kate Elkins


In her 10th year teaching art at SSSAS, Upper School Art Teacher and Art Department Chair Kate Elkins is still inspired by her students’ curiosity, enthusiasm, and openness to exploring more than one side of themselves. She believes that art is a means to connect with others who have experienced similar emotions of intense joy or profound loss and that in those moments, art becomes an essential source of solace, inspiration, and guidance. Kate and her brother grew up on a family-owned stable, with more than 100 horses in southern Michigan. They experienced the enchantment of playing in the barns and running in the fields with their animals and lots of cousins. When Kate wasn’t reading or drawing outdoors, she was roller skating—with aspirations of joining a roller derby team! Kate didn’t take her first art class until her junior year. “It was eye-opening to discover that making art can be academically rigorous and challenging,” Kate says. “I loved it so much that I took five art classes my senior year.” Her newfound love took Kate to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she received a bachelor of fine arts in painting and met her husband of nearly 30 years, Slade, an architect. They have two children, a son serving as a Marine Corps officer and a daughter set to graduate from college and commission into the Army in May. In 2012, Kate received her master’s in art education from George Washington University. At their home, Kate and Slade’s shared love of reading and art is evident in the stacks of books, drawings, and paintings laying everywhere. In her studio that Slade designed, Kate is exploring a new technique sanding charcoal into hand-toned paper and creating a series of drawings of uniform jackets worn by people in her family to honor them and their personal histories. They also love movies. Every year their family ramps up for Oscar season, watching every nominated film before competing to see who can predict the most categories. Right now, Kate’s favorite director is Taika Waititi (“Jo Jo Rabbit” and “Reservation Dogs”). Living a healthy lifestyle is important to Kate. She’s a beekeeper and adores cooking from scratch with home grown ingredients. A visit to artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico deeply impacted Kate. “I’ve always been drawn to her paintings, but I find great inspiration in the way she lived her life—with independence, strength, a rich aesthetic, and a commitment to simple living,” Kate says. “She influences my artistic choices and my approach to life.” Kate enjoys biking, hiking and canoeing, live music, visiting museums, and playing with her long-haired dachshunds, Ruby and Ginny. She has traveled to many European countries and nearly every U.S. state. Kate tries to surround herself with people who make her laugh. In fact, she wrote her graduate thesis on how laughter in the classroom can help students feel safe and comfortable and therefore more likely to take risks in their artmaking. Something quirky about Kate? She has a severe case of pareidolia (look that up), and sees faces in everything!

What one piece of advice would you offer anyone who asks?
Cherish the time you spend with family and friends, surround yourself with kind people, and try not to stress over things you can’t control.

 What would constitute a perfect day for you?
I love a snow day, especially when we get a significant amount of snow and we’re forced to pause. I tend to spend days like these working in my studio.

What is something that you pretend to understand when you really don’t?
I try to be really understanding when my dogs are sharing their frustrations about the squirrels in our yard. 

What is the one place in the world you would like to escape to and why?
I’d escape to a peaceful house by the lake. Growing up in Michigan, we were surrounded by beautiful lakes. The calming smells and sounds of the water and the surrounding woods have always had a rejuvenating effect on me.

If you had a million dollars in the bank, what would you be doing?
I’d buy that lake house.

What is your most treasured object and why?
Our collection of paintings—they tell the story of our lives together.