Profile: Katie Shoemaker

Elena Valdovinos

When you look at your future what do you see yourself doing? For Katie Shoemaker, it wasn’t always teaching. Although her heart is full when she’s with her students, art gives her the same feeling.

Shoemaker’s career in painting began at Western Kentucky University, where she was lucky enough to study under one of her favorite artists, Yvonne Petkus.

“I went there initially because I was recruited for the track team […] I was able to both run track and also have a great art program there too,” Shoemaker said. “I started up doing oil paintings on commissions and then my friends and I, after college, we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and started a gallery and a studio space […] It was me, I was a painter, and my other four friends who were graphic designers.”

Shoemaker explains that she was later interested in pursuing a teaching career after she moved to Portland, admitting that she had started to feel isolated.

“I’m a social butterfly and really felt like I missed communicating with people […] I didn’t want to come home from work and not want to paint,” Shoemaker added, “So I decided not to teach art, and to instead teach something that I really love, which is literature.”

She acknowledges the different ways that art can be incorporated into her classroom, and aims to connect with all of her students through both visual and written activities.

“Teaching literature automatically lends itself to work with art too. There’s so many ways that works of art in text can be interpreted visually,” Shoemaker explains. “Sometimes students who have trouble expressing what they think in writing can do it really well through art.”

She also believes that there is an important lesson to be learned from her experience in the art community, which can be applied to all aspects of life.

“I think the hardest lesson to learn for me, but the most valuable, is to not care what other people think, and to just do what you want to do,” Shoemaker said. “If you’re not doing what you want to do, it’s not fun, and it’s supposed to be […] Letting all of that go and not caving to pressure, that was always such a hard thing for me.”