2018 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Arts Education
Joe Cornett is a teacher of digital photography at Flagstaff High School. His students have been recognized for their quality work both in school and in wider artistic communities. Joe is always looking to provide his students with new opportunities for showcasing their work, or for experiencing professional artwork.
Every year, Joe’s students are strongly represented in the Youth Art Exhibition at Coconino Center for the Arts. This exhibition features artwork from k-12 students throughout the Flagstaff area, and is judged by NAU art students. Joe always has his students participate in the show, and they have often caught the attention of the judges. For instance, one of his students won best in show for the 2017 exhibition. Participation in the show provides an important opportunity for Joe’s students to have their work displayed in a professional gallery, and viewed by a wider audience. Similarly, Joe always has students participate in the annual Youth Lens Competition, hosted by Nature Exposed Photography at Freeman Law. Over 200 students submit artwork to this juried photo competition, and only 29 are selected to participate in the show. Joe’s students have always been well represented in the show, and have often won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes for their work.
Joe’s students have also been recognized outside of Flagstaff for their artwork. They have been published in the Annual Best of High School Photography hosted by Photographer’s Forum. In the past few years, over 40 of his students have selected to be part of this national juried competition and published in the book. Last year, two of his students also placed 1st and 2nd place in the Arizona Light Photography Competition hosted by Canon USA and Tempe Camera. His school had the most winning participants and won the highest accolades across the state. The quality of his students’ work speaks to Joe’s effectiveness as an educator. Though perhaps more important is the encouragement he provides for students to participate in a wide range of artistic opportunities.
Joe also understands the importance of viewing high quality work by professional artists. He organizes annual field trips to the Getty Museum and the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Southern California. This further demonstrates his ability to go above and beyond work in the classroom to provide a well rounded education.
Although Joe is always looking for ways to enrich his students’ education beyond the classroom, he also understands the importance of taking pride in one’s own school. His students’ work can be seen decorating the halls, yearbooks and social media displays of Flagstaff High School. He also organized a wheat paste mural for the school created by his Photo III students.