Jeremy Winingham, new art teacher and Creve Coeur resident, is settling into his new classroom, adorned with trinkets from all types of franchises, most notably Star Wars and Marvel, and walls covered in colorful posters.
Winingham has always been an artist but really started getting into art when he was eight years old, continuing to draw and create well through grade school. When it came time to choose his school, he decided on Webster University, where he got his BA in studio art, and then UMSL for his education degree.
Through his development as an artist, Winingham’s grown a specific liking for pencil and charcoal, traditional mediums that he does a lot of his work in. His medium choices pair well with his favorite artist, Alex Ross, a “contemporary answer,” according to Winingham.
Ross is an American comic book artist who does realistic work with gouache and wash, mainly doing cover art for comics for both Marvel and DC. Ross pairs well with Winingham’s obvious appreciation for superhero comics.
Although Winingham studied art and teaching in university, he chose to go into banking after graduation and stayed in that field for 10 years.
“I think it was partly because I have a lot of fam- teachers in my family, so initially I think I didn’t wanna just be like everybody else, so I kinda went off on my own,” Winingham said.
However even during this, Winingham was still pursuing art, doing freelance work and commissions for clients on the side. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when Winingham started casually substitute teaching for a while before he made the big leap to full-time. He’s now taught for 15 years.
Winingham is the little brother of counselor Kenneth Winingham. A detail that comes in handy when coming to a new school but also has some catches.
“When you have like a big brother, big sister who comes through school and everybody knows who they are and then you come on and they’re like, ‘Oh, so you’re such-and-such’s little brother!’ or ‘You’re such-and-such’s little sister!’ It’s kinda the same thing, where everybody already knows me even though I don’t really know them, so it is kind of that. It’s just that feeling, feeling to some degree like you have to, like, live up to a certain expectation,” Winingham said adding that while not bad, it is a different experience.
Besides different experiences, there is also a universal school issue of art departments scrambling for money. About this issue and what Winningham thinks about the current funds in WGHS’ art department, he thought there could be more but that he has hope for the future of the department.
“I think it’s- sometimes it’s always kind of like, which do you do first? Like, do you boost your art department and then try to hire another art teacher? Or do you hire another art teacher and then try to boost the department? So I think that’s kinda what they did. If they hired me then I think they know that the next step is really to kind of put some more money into the art department here because, y’know it’s- to have a quality art program it costs money,” Winingham said.
Winingham said a contributing factor to this lack of funds is also the nature of teaching art itself. It is a practice that is constantly consuming supplies that can’t be reused, so there has to be continuous funding.
About the department and its staff, Winingham said the main thing that art teachers need to have is a passion for their work. He believes that the other art teachers, Andrew Throm and Jocelyn Reiss, both have that, which makes the department that much stronger.
“I mean, yes, we’re all pretty different people. We have different styles, and that’s part of the awesomeness. We can, y’know, bounce ideas off each other, and we all can get better as a group and everything,” Winingham said.
About what he thought about Winingham, art teacher Andrew Throm said, “Mr. Winingham had several years experience at the Francis Howell School District. He is a great addition to our department especially in the area of Digital Art.”
Reiss said, “Mr. Winingham brings a fresh perspective and loads of knowledge; he is really fun to work with. I think that having another art teacher is critical to growing our program; we have seen an increase in interest over the last few years and having Mr. Winingham on staff means that we can continue to offer more art courses that go further in depth and serve all learners.”
Winingham said one thing all incoming teachers need to keep in mind during this process is that it is okay to fail. “There’s no way you can possibly know everything. I mean you may have all this experience, but there’s still going to be things that like Webster does different than my last school,” he said.