Andrea Nickerson

Andrea was a top academic student in high school, but the conversations that intrigued her the most happened in her art classes. She earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Art, Boston (SMFA). The open-ended, self-directed, cross-disciplinary curriculum at SMFA afforded her a unique opportunity to approach learning very differently than traditional American undergraduate programs– using her own viscera to choose courses and designing projects for herself.
The school was designed to mimic the open-ended working conditions of a fine artist, which is the same way Andrea approaches the courses of study she has designed and facilitated for her students. Students learn to work with personal themes and content that matters to them while they grow in their manipulation of materials. When they are ready, they begin exposing their work to others for authentic feedback. Throughout the process, they take in a combination of historical artworks, contemporary art pieces, and visual culture to hone their eye and to practice thinking visually.

Andrea is passionate about equity in schools for all students. She spent a total of 12 years studying race and education and then applying that research in the classroom as a public school teacher. An a high school art teacher for almost ten years, she committed to finding and delivering out-of-the-box learning experiences to children living in under-resourced communities. Her classroom work was primarily with students in marginalized communities, which has given her an incredibly expanded perspective on culture and ways of approaching creativity. Her work in the art classroom centers around developing voices for expression, innovation, vision, creativity solutions, courage, and integrity.

Andrea is inspired by teenagers and honored to know them while they navigate the threshold between childhood and adulthood. The increase in a child’s ability to grapple with complexity as they grow through their teen years is remarkable, and it often lends itself well to endeavors of creative expansion. Andrea finds her students often know intuitively how to apply deeper lessons they learn in the art classroom to the many other arenas of their lives, including attention to detail, risk-taking, and tolerance for mistakes. There isn’t a work environment where solid practice in creative principles won’t provide an advantage, and students tend to experience that viscerally in their art studies.

Teaching Philosophy & Approach

I approach each student like a contemporary artist discovering themselves. Their instincts and outlook on the world are acknowledged, affirmed, and challenged in a way that prompts them to develop themselves. Much of my work is focused on creative thinking, ideation, and communication, which does not necessarily require extensive materials or studio setups. Using simple exercises that lead into larger, longer-term projects allows students to explore many techniques and approaches quickly. Reflections on the creative process take center stage, and students are often surprised by their discoveries as they learn how to experiment and question assumptions they may have about drawing, painting, or fine art in general. Toggling between teaching kids how to expand their thinking through many possibilities and then leading them to focus and develop ideas has proven to be an incredibly productive approach to student learning. Along the way, students learn how to organize ideas, complete complex tasks with multiple layers, and meet deadlines.

“Reflections on the creative process take center stage, and students are often surprised by their discoveries as they learn how to experiment and question assumptions they may have about drawing, painting, or fine art in general.”
Teaching Level:
  • Middle
  • High School
Teaching Type:
  • Tutoring
  • Learning Coach
  • Full-Semester Classes
  • Partial Year Classes (Mini Courses)
Teaching Subjects:
  • Crafts
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpture


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