LASTING IMPRESSION: Volunteer JCA teacher visits with her art students one last time

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feng Ping Xiong was a volunteer art teacher at the Johnson Center for the Arts for more than a year. She will be leaving Troy with her husband who has accepted a job in San Francisco. Several of her students visited with her at the JCA Monday. Pictured above from left, Pamela Sutton, Gideon Sutton, Penelope Dawson, Feng Ping Xiong and Larry Aldridge. 

More than year ago, a young woman walked into the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy and volunteered to teach free art lessons.

Vicki Pritchett, JAC executive director, was surprised but eagerly accepted the offer.

Feng Ping Xiong was in Troy with her husband who was in graduate school at Troy University. She was looking for a constructive way to spend her time in Troy.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The visa that Feng had did not allow her to work,” Pritchett said. “She had worked in China as a professional artist and had taught art there before coming to Troy. We were excited to have someone with her talent and her experience to teach art lessons at the Johnson Center.”

From 2015 to 2016, Feng taught sketching and painting at the JCA on Wednesdays and Fridays. Some days there would be as many as 12 students in class, sometimes only two or three. But no matter how many students were in class or how few, Feng was a “master teacher,” Pritchett said.

“We were happy for her and her husband when he finished his studies at Troy University– but a little sad, too, that she would be leaving us.”

The couple returned to China but came back for his graduation in December. Since that time, the couple has been considering the opportunities before them. With their decision made, they will be leaving very soon for San Francisco where they will make their home.

Before leaving Troy, Feng wanted to get together with her students.  On Monday, several of them gathered at the Johnson Center to look back and also look to the future.

“It was a pleasure to work with these wonderful students and people at the Johnson Center,” Feng said. “They made my time here very enjoyable.”

Feng said her hope was to encourage her students’ love and appreciation of art and their desire to make art.

Larry Aldridge didn’t want his teacher to leave without seeing the art he was creating – the art that had been inspired and encouraged by her.

Aldridge is a watercolor artist who uses bold colors and white contours to create art that, as Feng said, has a Japanese flair.

“I like the art,” she said to Aldridge. “It has a distinctive style, with geometric shapes. It is colorful and vibrant and happy. The animals have expressions. I like what you are doing.”

Several of Feng’s other students also gave Aldridge’s artwork high praise.

“He paints like a guy,” Penelope Dawson said, indicating that’s a good thing and adding that, no matter the style, Feng was always supportive.

Feng encouraged her students to believe in themselves and their abilities and gave them confidence to develop their own styles. That’s what a good teacher does, Pritchett said.

“Feng made a lasting impression on her students and the staff at the JCA. She came in and made a place for herself at the Johnson Center. By being a part of the Johnson Center, she enriched many lives. We wish Feng and her husband all the best.”