Katie Kretchmar currently works at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This may not seem like the most obvious place of employment to gain experience or do informal research in the field of art. Disney often proves, however, that looks can be deceiving. One of Katie’s greatest beliefs and interests in art is the idea that in every one of us something remains of our childhood. Disney does a better job than most at bringing out the inner child in people of all ages. Though it is fun to watch the inner child inside adults brought to surface, it is equally rewarding to observe the young child’s unchallenging view of things. The magic I’ve seen in thousands of lit up faces as they meet their “real” hero Buzz or take a stroll down Main Street U.S.A. with their favorite dog Pluto is enlightening. They believe so easily and express themselves so freely without worrying about their image or who’s watching. Katie has also enjoyed learning about the particular cultures of the variety of people who visit Disney World. Discovering things they are passionate about, that offend them, that interest them, and the different mannerisms that become associated with each culture has been a smorgasbord of knowledge that she will utilize in her future art classes and other aspects of her life.
Katie’s research interests include: (1) better methods of assessment in the arts as well as in other subjects; (2) connecting adult artists with their inner childhood in order to help the adult with creative expression; (3) The use of art to help develop the self-esteem and self-control of all populations, but with particular emphasis on the orthopedically impaired and intellectually disabled; and (4) the importance of art and color as it relates to the creation of an atmosphere. Many of her research interests stem from her life experiences. Growing up with a learning disability, self-esteem and memorization for standardized test taking became significant issues faced in public education. She gained interest in the importance of things and ideas that made her happy through private school, travel, and modeling. She has discovered through her work at Disney World as well as in recreation centers that everyone tends to have something in life which brings them joy. It is a fulfilling and important release of creative expression and self-identity that emerges when artists connect to this joy. She is also interested in color and the use of art in creating a positive, magical atmosphere. She feels this same “magic” can be captured in other places and institutions to encourage free individual thinking and promotion of safety in which to explore and ask questions.
As an artist Katie’s focus lies in “happy” art and experiences. A common concern for some artists is that this is not the most interesting type of art. Katie would argue that the most interesting type of art should be defined by the intended audience and message. What is interesting to one person is not necessarily similar to another. Katie’s philosophy is that an emotional connection to art leads to more interesting art. Art does not have to be interesting to all audiences involved, especially if you are creating art for yourself. This emotional connection is what she feels can lead to a necessary release and freeing form of creative expression, both ideas which are important in life.