By Kim Harris Thacker
Corina Alvarezdelugo grew up in Venezuela in a home where art was considered a hobby, not a profession. It wasn't until she had gone to law school and was a mother of three, living in the United States, that she learned that she could study art at the university level.
Today, "Ms. Corina," as she is known by Walker's students, is a professional artist as well as an art teacher and the gallery director at The Ethel Walker School. Her work, which is inspired by her life experiences, is found in galleries and private collections around the world.
"Because I came to art first as a professional and then as an educator, I feel like I can really guide my students," she says. "I tell them about being a professional artist, including the ups and downs, but I don't try to convince them to become artists. I try to guide them to the best way they can use their talents."
One Walker's student who benefits from Ms. Corina's guidance is Joyce Kouami '22 from Orange, New Jersey.
"I'm a perfectionist," Kouami says, "so when Ms. Corina asks me to sketch out what I want a final project to look like, I put a lot of time into the sketch. I used to become furious with myself when a project would take a different path than the one I'd planned. But Ms. Corina has taught me that sometimes art — and even life — can take a different path than we intended, and that's not always a negative thing."
Another of Ms. Corina's students, Tianyi Huang '21 from Shenzhen, China, says that while she has always enjoyed drawing, her skills have improved under Ms. Corina's instruction.
"I now know how to make things proportionate and the right shape, and how to create volume using shadows," Huang says.
"Before I took Ms. Corina's class, I drew for fun," says Mackenzie Zeytoonjian '21, a day student from Farmington. "But now I am definitely interested in pursuing visual art as a career. I have become more inspired to do what I love because of the acceptance I feel in art class."
Regardless of the career choices Ms. Corina's students will make, all of them currently benefit from her instruction in the principles of art appreciation.
"In anything you do in life — whether it's your career or something else — if you want to succeed, you have to learn how to see and how to fill yourself with wonder," Ms. Corina says.
It's that sense of wonder that she hopes to generate through her artwork. Each of her mixed-media designs is made using a variety of materials, such as recycled paper, wax and natural inks. This artful amalgamation is characteristic of her attitude toward education, too. She enjoys collaborating with other teachers and is particularly keen to ensure that the arts play a role in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
"It's the combination of having both art and science together that makes knowledge sink in better and helps students to see things with a different eye," she says.
In 2017, she and Walker's Middle School science and math teacher Julie Greshin helped students participate in the i2i (Inspiration to Innovation) Challenge, sponsored by the Talcott Mountain Science Center and the New Britain Museum of American Art. Every year, this challenge invites students to marry science and art in a unique visual display. Winners from last year's event included Walker's students Lilia Gooch '24, Grace Sappington '24 and Chloe Fares '24. Ms. Corina plans to help students this year, too.
Last year, during Spring Break, Ms. Corina traveled to the Dominican Republic with several Walker's students and faculty members to offer their services to the Mariposa Foundation. Ms. Corina shared her talents with the organization, and, as a result, she created colorful signs for the foundation's chicken coop and permaculture garden.
A truly special program in which Ms. Corina has been involved is the Horizons at The Ethel Walker School program. Last summer, she helped first-graders from Hartford develop their fine motor skills as well as learn complex art skills. Ultimately, the children were able to present their artwork to each other in a peer critique session.
As Ms. Corina says, "It's never too early to teach art appreciation."
Learn more about Ms. Corina on her website (justcorina.com), on Facebook (Corina S. Alvarezdelugo), on Twitter (@corinadotdash, #corinadotdash) and on Instagram (@justcorina_studio, #justcorina, #CorinaStudio, #corinasalvarezdelugo).