Matt Moffett is director of Tulsa Girls Art School, a nonprofit organization that empowers underserved Tulsa girls through visual arts training. The organization provides specialized art training to elementary school girls living in inner-city Tulsa. Tulsa Girls Art School encourages children to see themselves as artists and life-long participants in the arts.
“I always enjoyed creating art as a kid, but I never took it seriously. In 1999, I was teaching Spanish as an adjunct professor at the University of Tulsa when my beloved dog had a brain aneurism and died. It broke my heart. I wanted to commemorate my dog in a portrait, but I couldn’t find an artist that I thought would do the job well. So I painted it myself. My friends thought it was cool, so that’s how I started painting animals.
I went on to get alternative teacher certification and taught elementary school art at Eugene Field Elementary. There was a courtyard outside Eugene Field, and I expressed interest in building an art garden filled with sculptures. But when I went to the school board and asked for the funding, they sort of laughed at me. I had Eugene Field kids’ art projects displayed at Wild Fork (in Utica Square). All of the projects sold, and we raised $9,000 to build the art garden. That was the inspiration for the Tulsa Girls Art School.
At Tulsa Girls Art School, we train girls from underprivileged schools to become selling artists. We select two elementary schools each year and receive recommendations of students who would benefit from the program. We interview each girl and help her realize that this is a very serious commitment. The girls come to Tulsa Girls Art School twice a week after school and every Saturday.
Tulsa Girls Art School offers these girls exposure to things they have never tried or seen. We give them unique opportunities that they wouldn’t have at their schools. These girls realize they can actually go to art school.
Tulsa Girls Art School has changed my life. I see everything in a new light. I teach these girls everything I know, but they open my eyes to different ways of doing things. They have opened my heart and mind so much, and I know that whatever they do and pursue that they will have this artistic side that I helped instill in them. They’re really passionate about art. They inspire me to be a better artist.”