UMFA Staffer Katie Seastrand is Utah Museum Educator of The Year


Kiffer Creveling

Outside the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Whit Fuller, Arts Writer


Utah Museum of Fine Arts teacher and student programs coordinator Katie Seastrand was awarded Utah Museum Educator of The Year for her efforts in adapting to challenges and founding several new programs for young students in Utah schools.

Museum Educator

As the coordinator of teacher and student programs for the UMFA, Seastrand participates in community and student outreach to bring art materials and experiences to students throughout Utah. When she speaks about her career and the driving force behind it, she expresses her passion with vibrant eyes and excited hand gestures. Her enthusiasm when discussing art is palpable and sets the tone for an engaging conversation with whomever might be present.

“I think I’ve come to realize that there’s so many different ways to be smart and art is one of those ways,” Seastrand said. “I kind of like it because it’s not a right or wrong and it’s not a certain process that you have to do. It’s really open to student expression and passion.”

Seastrand began coordinating various programs for the museum in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic began. When lockdown started, Seastrand rose to the challenge and created a series of online programs that have slowly started to expand to in-person activities. 

The UMFA’s Virtual Visits program allowed students to be guided through a virtual tour of various museum exhibits. The resource became particularly valuable for student and community outreach during the pandemic. Amplifying Voices is a program that engages with contemporary works of art to show students how artists use their work to share their voices and how doing so is accessible to students themselves.

Seastrand’s own connection to art was enhanced during an art exhibition that she attended while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in art history. She stood in front of a DaVinci artwork and was in awe of the time that the work had traveled from its initial creation to being there in front of her. When she recalls the connections made by students to art in the UMFA’s galleries that influence creative works of their own, that passion stretches similarly across time.

Connecting Art to Artists

Seastrand had a moving experience earlier this year during a Museum in The Classroom workshop. She visited a school in the state and provided art materials to a group of students. They were asked to draw someone that they considered a leader in their life and then create something out of clay to resemble that leader and the influence they’ve had in their life.

One student painted a beautiful portrait of her mother and sculpted an empanada from the clay. Seastrand vividly recalled the excitement that she felt at seeing the connection that the student had made with the exercise and her own creative talent. 

“Getting to see this other student who clearly really connected with the bigger themes and things we were doing just warmed my heart,” Seastrand said. “It’s that moment where we’re like ‘This is why we created these programs and these activities.’”  


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