• Homer High’s Alayne Tetor finds and instills inspiration in art
By Christina Whiting
Homer High School art teacher Alayne Tetor considers herself a mountain-loving art fiend.
Growing up in a densely wooded area of Pennsylvania, close to the Appalachian Mountains and New York City, Tetor’s proximity to nature and art inspired in her a deep appreciation for both.
Tetor views art and creativity as both transformative and transcending.
“I love to see the creative energy pulsing through students,” she said. “I work a lot to help students move through fear and self-judgment. It’s wonderful to see a student start to open up, embody more of themselves, learn how to express their creativity and feel good about expressing it.”
Tetor and Matt Tucker, Homer High’s special education teacher, were instrumental in creating “Colors of Homer.” The student-driven group encourages local youth to share their creativity with each other and the community.
“It’s been wonderful to see students supporting one another as they grow from being nervous about performing to owning the stage they’re on,” she said.
Tetor mentors her students and knows the value of mentoring. As a youth, she was inspired by her art teacher, Mrs. Crowley.
“She is my art goddess,” Tetor said. “She was real, authentic, uninhibited and had a raging passion for art.”
Tetor was also inspired by her mother’s cousin, Deborah, who worked as a costume and fashion designer in New York City.
“Deborah sent me boxes of scrap fabrics, buttons and art supplies, surrounding me with treasures,” Tetor explained. “She was my art mom.”
Growing up, Tetor took every art class she could. She was most drawn to capturing nature scenes through sketching, as well as painting with oils and watercolors. While studying art education in college, Tetor was attracted to Indian art, culture and philosophy. She spent two months traveling and studying in India.
Tetor traveled to Varanasi, India, where she stayed with a Buddhist family for two months.
“From the ancient carvings, the women’s brightly colored saris, the glittery shrines on taxi cab dashboards, to the sacred rituals being performed everywhere and all of the time, life is art in India,” she explained.
Living in Alaska had been a life-long dream for Tetor, and in the summer of 2010, she made her way to Talkeetna. There, she lived in a small cabin, worked at a bakery and rode her bike everywhere. When she had an opportunity to teach art in Anchorage, she moved to the city and spent the next year teaching.
And, while she loved her job, she dreamed of living a simple lifestyle in a beautiful, small, tight-knit community where she could network and feel like she was part of a family.
She found what she was looking for in Homer.
Tetor spent her first year in Homer teaching yoga. She also volunteered for Homer Council on the Arts, and was soon teaching their after-school art classes, as well as coordinating the monthly gallery exhibits and working as an administrative assistant.
“HCOA really got me involved in the local arts community,” she said. “It’s a great hub for creative people.”
As passionate as she is about her art, Tetor is equally passionate about fitness, nature and adventure. She is the assistant cross county running coach at the high school, teaches yoga at both the college and high school levels and loves to backpack and ski.
These activities help her model a healthy lifestyle for her students, while also maintaining her own level of fitness.
Tetor melds these passions by taking her sketchbook and watercolor kit along with her when she is out exploring. She recently explored Ruth Glacier in the Alaska Range, where she stayed in a hut and backcountry skied.
During a three-day snowstorm, she created a drawing of an eight-foot snowdrift that was encasing the window of her hut.
“This snowdrift represented the magnitude of nature in juxtaposition to the tiny human shelter,” she said.
While most of her art depicts the human interaction with nature, she also likes to create illustrations of surreal, contemplative drawings.
Tetor will showcase some of her illustrations on T-shirts that will be available in Homer this summer, as part of her new small business, Arctic Mermaid Designs. She also hopes to have an exhibit of paintings and sketches later this year.
One day, Tetor would like to use art and creativity to counsel adolescents. She recently applied to graduate school for a masters of education in counseling, with a focus on art as therapy.
Behind Tetor’s passions is a belief that art can be a powerful vehicle for processing the human experience.
“Art is about our perception of things, rather than just the way things are,” she said. “Culture creates strong communities and I’ve always wanted to be a part of making that happen.”
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