Artist Spotlight: Beth Yturri

Finding educators who are truly passionate about what they do seems to be hard to find these days. Understandable, considering the current climate for teachers in Texas. And art educators with a drive to share their passion are like four leaf clovers  rare doesn’t seem to cover it. Beth Yturri, an art educator working in North Fort Worth, is one of those exceptional clovers. She shares her craft with the next generation of artists, all while still maintaining a personal practice of artistry on her own.

Yturri’s exploration into art began with music. She played the clarinet, drums, and piano before she delved into visual art as an outlet in her high school years. For Beth, painting was, and still is, a way to make connections within her dreams and reality.

When she was deciding which major to pursue at UNT, she chose Art Education out of passion and necessity: passion, because she says that she would never have become the artist she wanted to be unless she made it her livelihood, and necessity because, let’s face it, making a career as an artist doesn’t come easy, and teaching provides a steady income with rewarding aspects. Art education was Beth’s answer to the question of whether to follow her dreams or be practical and get one of those careers people keep talking about.

Yturri teaches art to students in kindergarten through 5th grade. She sees her classroom as a tool for her own exploration as her students learn the fundamentals of art. While she teaches them about form, color, and texture, the students always seem to reinvigorate parts of Yturri’s practice that she hadn’t previously explored. Once you stop learning, your practice stagnates and loses any sense of realness. There is a constant stream of new information, with over 700 kids to manage and learn from. Yturri says that she teaches her students a concept, then allows them to “unpack” it in their own way. Often, the students delve into their lessons in a completely new way, sometimes providing a refreshing perspective for their teacher. She cites her students as an excellent source of inspiration for her current works. Yturri and her students learn from one another and use one another in a symbiotic relationship to express ideas that wouldn’t otherwise be brought to fruition.

Teaching in a district that values progressive ideas in education has proven to be hugely useful in her career, because she can really get into the gritty aspects of high art, rather than just teaching a simple arts and crafts class. Plus, the perks of having access to a kiln and other materials is a tremendous help to her practice.

Yturri has always dabbled in different media, from her dreamlike surrealist paintings, to live art, to installations, and lately, ceramics. She happened upon a pottery wheel by chance and has been making sets of ceramic shot glasses to sell as pieces of miniature functional art. The vibrant color choices are reminiscent of her technicolor paintings, but with the earthly quality of a ceramic medium. You can find pictures of sets she has available (and maybe snatch a set for yourself) on her Instagram.

The best part of doing artist spotlights is learning about why the artist has stayed in Denton. Usually, makers and artists end up in our town for college, but why stay for the long haul? For Beth Yturri, it’s the culture of community and art that has kept her here. She relies on the shows, the music, the art, the food, and the people to bring her inspiration and new ideas to light.

photos by Emily Cline
Header image design by Brittany Keeton