@tonkacreatives Showcases Students’ Artwork on Instagram

by | Jul 2024

Student Lucy Finch; acrylic on canvas.

Student Lucy Finch; acrylic on canvas. Photos: Meg Koenitzer

Minnetonka High School art teacher shares students’ work for all to view and like.

Inspired to showcase the talent of young artists, a local art teacher turned to social media to put her students’ work on display, allowing for more exposure than the occasional school art fair.

Minnetonka High School (MHS) art teacher Meg Koenitzer was thinking outside the box when she created an Instagram account (@tonkacreatives) to post the artwork of her students. The site, which includes the work of students on every level, celebrates not just the finished products, but the students themselves. “My role is to cheer students on in their lives and in their art,” Koenitzer says. “I love seeing them express themselves visually.”

The idea for the account surfaced about four years ago when Koenitzer began thinking of ways she could display the artwork coming across her desk. “I wanted to show the community how incredible these students are,” she says. Sure, the occasional art exhibition allowed for that, but the Instagram account made it more instant, more diverse.

Now, with more than 1,000 followers (and growing), @tonkacreatives connects artists outside of the school’s walls, allowing for conversation and inspiration beyond the classroom. “I’ve had other art teachers in other states reach out to me to discuss the artwork they see on the page,” Koenitzer says. “It’s been pretty incredible and has offered a way for others to gain insight into [MHS’s] art program.”

Student Audra Unglaub; colored pencil.

Student Audra Unglaub; colored pencil.

It boosts students’ confidence, too. Koenitzer says when her students see their artwork on the page start generating likes and reposts, it fosters a feeling of accomplishment. “They get really excited when they see their work,” she says. “They start inspiring each other.”

As the posts have increased over the years, former students’ works have also served as inspiration for budding artists. Koenitzer says she and MHS students spend time scrolling through the art log, which the Instagram page has become, for inspiration on different projects.

Student Rylie Ulett; ceramic.

Student Rylie Ulett; ceramic.

“There are a lot of skilled and talented students in our school, and sometimes the arts don’t get the credit it deserves,” Koenitzer says. “It’s incredibly valuable to cheer students on in their pursuits of the arts. Many of these students find a place and home in [the MHS] art department, and we love to celebrate their strengths.”

And while some students excel in art, others may struggle. Critiques can be intense, Koenitzer says, and art comes by way of various skills. The page highlights different levels and can ultimately help students grow in their work. Viewers will find ceramics, drawings, paintings, mixed media elements, sculptures and more.

“Wherever and however these students come with whatever skills they have, I find value in them as humans and think the arts can really help them build on how to express themselves,” Koenitzer says. “It’s amazing what they create, and it’s special to me because I know the student behind the artwork and what they bring to the table. Art develops these students as a whole person, and my goal is to showcase how amazing they are to their family, friends and the entire community.”

Minnetonka Public Schools
Instagram: @tonkacreatives

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