Noelle Vainikka is a high school art teacher in Watertown SD - but previously lived and worked in Brookings for over ten years before and after college at SDSU. She held several jobs during that time (sometimes simultaneously). She served up coffee at Cottonwood Coffee/Bistro, she created window displays at Trendz, she sliced bread at Buttercrust, taught classes at Ellie Alayne Arts, and more. She's happy to visit Downtown Brookings to teach at BAC!
My earliest memory of doing a work of art that I was excited about was in 6th grade. It was a drawing of an ice skater. I had a teacher who was very encouraging. I became the “go-to” person for creating posters, scenery, anything that required art. I went to a small school and had no art classes throughout my 12 years of school. Therefore, when I went to college at Northern State University, I was like a sponge, soaking up as much art as I could. I taught art in the public schools for 38 years, the last 30 at a Brookings middle school. I have had great fun DOING art since I retired in 2008 and I still love teaching. I have taught over 20 classes through OLLI and the Brookings Arts Council. I love to convince my friends that they, too, can do art and see their excitement when they complete a project. I don’t consider myself exclusively a watercolor artist because I love all media and do not spend enough time focusing on one medium. I belong to a “Funday Monday” group, that does a whole myriad of art projects, a Wednesday life drawing group, and a Thursday painting group. My week is full! My favorite media is woodcarving–I have carved over 1000 Santas. I love watercolor and am eager to try different techniques and take classes.
I mostly admire the old masters. Van Gogh, Monet, and Kandinsky are my favorites.
I graduated from Northern State University in Aberdeen and have taught elementary art in South Dakota for 31 years. I spend my summers painting landscapes and showing at the Brookings Summer Arts Festivals and entering area and regional art exhibitions. My work is included in private and corporate collections in the region.
I have recently retired from teaching elementary art in Brookings to focus on my painting. I’m particularly proud of inclusion in the 1st, 2nd,and 5th SDGovernors Exhibition, the Siouxland Landscape at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, Arts Night Artist’s Choice Award 2008 and the 2011-12 SD Art Educator of the Year Award.