Danielle Williams, art teacher at Maranatha, strives to keep Christ at the center of her classroom as she shares her passion for the arts. “As an art teacher, we can show students how God is the supreme artist, and we’re only able to be artistic because He has shared His gift with us,” she smiles. Get to know Mrs. Williams.
Mrs. Williams’ love for the arts is rooted in her childhood. “I’ve always loved the fine arts, always had a passion for it,” she says. When she was diagnosed with cancer as a child, she had a therapist who helped her navigate between chemo treatments and just being a kid. “She used art therapeutically, and my passion for the fine arts comes from that experience, knowing that I could communicate my feelings and my thoughts through art. My mother helped to invest in that passion, making sure I could take art classes.”
Mrs. Williams earned her degree in Animation from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and always anticipated she would be a fashion designer or an animator, but went straight into teaching after graduation. Mrs. Williams later went on to earn her Master’s in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University. She has taught animation and animation software programming to students on the East Coast.
When her husband’s job relocated the two to Kansas, Mrs. Williams started teaching as a volunteer at their church-owned school, Kiddie Kollege Early Learning Center and Primary School, then was hired on to teach Kindergarten. She transitioned from there to the Kansas City Art Institute as a Continued Ed and Professional Studies Instructor for several years. Later on, she applied to MCA as a substitute, but was interviewed for and accepted a full-time art teaching position.
Mrs. Williams keeps faith at the heart of her art classes. “One thing I try to keep before my students is 1 Corinthians 10:31 — do it all for the glory of God,” she says. “Everything we do, from the time our feet hit the ground until we lay back down in bed, we’re called to honor God in our thoughts, our talk and our walk, as well as in our art. When we utilize the skills God has given us, we’re called to give Him glory. I integrate this into every lesson.”
Mrs. Williams’ art lessons also connect to God’s creation. “I try to show students how God used the visual arts Biblically,” she explains. “His creation and design is intentional. It’s easy to overlook the intricate things that God shows us in His work, like Noah’s Ark, for example. God is the most artistic and divine creator.”
Recently, students in Mrs. Williams’ high school Art II class completed their self-portraits, and it was an opportunity to remind the students that they are made in the image of Christ. “It can be hard being a teenager; we’re not always happy with our bodies, and we tend to zone in on our imperfections. So the self-portrait project can be a tough assignment because their insecurities can arise,” she says. “Through this project, the students explored what it looks like to love ourselves the way God made us. We are created in God’s image and there is beauty in that! I was so pleasantly surprised with how well our students did.”
Students sometimes worry that, because they’re not Rembrandt or Da Vinci, they’re not artistic. But as Mrs. Williams keeps faith as the focus, she strives to affirm their students in their unique abilities. “God has been so good to allow me to show my students that as long as they are applying the principles of art and design effectively, their art is beautiful!”