Carlsbad artist Andrea Team knows that art is a lifesaver. Not in a literal sense, but creating art has always come to her rescue through life’s darkest times.With tremendous innate artistic ability, the largely self-taught native of Ontario, Canada earned her BFA degree in art education. For the past 12 years she has served as artist in residence at Carlsbad’s Kelly Elementary School, with students ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade.
It’s no wonder that cultivating children’s creativity has been her life’s calling. As a child, her own creativity was at best uncelebrated, if not actively squelched. She says, “Being artistic caused me more grief than reward in the beginning.”
“My mother was into tidiness and order, so everything I made or drew went straight to the trash.” While growing up, Team rarely was allowed to have actual art supplies and if they were given to her, they quickly disappeared. Risking parental wrath, she secretly cut paper with her mother’s “good” scissors, drew with the pen designated exclusively for taking phone messages, and used the glue that was intended only for practical household purposes.
In spite of discouragement, Team persevered in her artistic pursuits and reflects, “For some reason I was compelled to create, always.” Today as an art teacher, she has a positive influence on the lives of youth by celebrating their creativity on a daily basis.
Art has always been her salvation, particularly as she recently faced her closest friend’s struggle with cancer. Team says, “When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer it was surreal… Lots of my paintings came from the irony and utter disbelief.”
She says, “I usually paint metaphorically whatever is going on in my mind about what is happening in my life, so even though I didn’t directly paint my friend having cancer, I was definitely painting about my friend having cancer.”
Following a period of remission, her friend’s disease recurred as Stage 4, which led to participating in a study for trial medication in New York City. Team accompanied her friend as moral support but grappled with an additional challenge: “Each time I had to leave her I would rack my brain trying to figure out a way to work in New York so I could justify being there with her.”
As a result of Team’s commitment and single-mindedness, and with Kickstarter financing for the project, she was able not only to spend a full month with her friend during treatment, but also to have her first solo show in the Chelsea district of New York City during the fall of 2012.
Team says, “During the last year I lost many friends, including my children’s father and a good friend from our studios at the Foundry. Art always saved me.”
“Things haven’t always gone smoothly in my life. When things get rough, I make stuff.” She continues, “Art has always pulled at me. It’s like a dear friend, or a connection to something beyond this life.”
Although her artwork has received many awards, Team says, “Now I prefer to create the kind of art that is my own, without trying to fit any criteria. Right now my art is more of an internal struggle, and it may change. It’s the only way I can paint authentically.”
Actively involved with Oceanside Museum of Art’s Art After Dark events, Team is one of 16 artists who maintain working studios in the New Village Arts Foundry in Carlsbad, where the public is invited to attend free monthly art events.
Currently on display in front of the San Tropez Bakery and Bistro in the Lumberyard in Encinitas, Team’s Arts Alive banner titled “Falling into Wonderland” exemplifies her characteristic use of rich colors, strong sense of composition, and personal interpretation of metaphorical themes.
Andrea Team’s banner will be part of the Arts Alive auction to be held on May 26, 2013 in the Cardiff Town Center Courtyard. More of her artwork can be seen on her website at www.andreajneene.net.