A Meaningful Promotion


Linda Santana recently began her second year as Chair of Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Visual Arts Department, having succeeded David Reid-Marr. Santana comes from a number of marginalized groups or ethnicities: Latinx, Chicanx, Mexican, Filipino-American.

If the elevation of a woman with this background to a position of leadership at Idyllwild Arts seemed important, and moving, during the 2019-2020 school year, more recent events have intensified the impression. Today, the safety and sense of belonging for people of color in the United States may be more in doubt than at any other time in more than half a century.

Santana’s elevation to a leadership position at Idyllwild Arts will not solve this problem, or heal the associated wounds. But within the small Idyllwild Arts community her promotion is deeply meaningful.

The promotion is also well deserved. Santana earned it with seven years of outstanding teaching, which began in the fall of 2013. She had been hired to reintroduce printmaking to the Visual Arts Department’s curriculum, after having studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of North Texas.

Before she ever taught her first Idyllwild Arts class, she had spent two weeks of her summer reconditioning the school’s pair of rusty presses, victims of years of neglect. The fact that the presses were ready to go by the first day of classes gave evidence of a devotion to craft, and to giving the best possible learning experience for her students, that has never wavered.

Tortilla Presses and Rolling Pins

Perhaps needless to say, Santana is qualified to provide such a learning experience by her own excellence as an artist. The two most recent venues for her printmaking work are Corridos Visuales: Tradition & Innovation in Latinx Printmaking, a group exhibit at Florida Atlantic University, and the annual Idyllwild Arts faculty show, called “Emerge” this year, which runs through September 24.

Her thoughtfulness about both artmaking and the teaching of it was challenged last year, her first as Visual Arts Chair, when many Idyllwild Arts classes were offered via Zoom because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Zoom teaching forced me to get creative with materials,” she laughs. “Of course the students didn’t have printmaking presses in their homes, so we had to make prints with tortilla presses and rolling pins!”

There is little doubt that, as Visual Arts Chair, Santana can translate her skills, dedication, and flexibility as an artist and teacher into excellence as an administrator. She knows that students from marginalized groups, especially, look to her as an example and she takes the responsibility seriously.