John Dewey’s New Art Program

John Dewey is excited to announce that Susan Jennings will be joining the team as our Art Teacher!

Susan’s Background

Susan received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MFA from Hunter College. She spent 25 years steeped in the New York City art world as both an exhibiting artist and as the studio manager for several acclaimed artists before moving to Great Barrington in 2013 with her artist husband Alexander Ross and their daughter.

Susan brings to her students at John Dewey Academy an interdisciplinary approach to creative expression. She comes with a background as an exhibiting artist and a performing musician as well as an adjunct professor of art at Rhode Island School of Design and the State University of New York at Albany.  

Before teaching on the college level, Susan and a math educator partner designed together a math-through-art curriculum which they brought to thousands of NYC public high school students and educators across all 5 boroughs of NYC.

For 10 years Susan worked collaboratively on a project called Black Lake which occupied space at the intersection of art and music by combining projected video art, sculpture/instruments, paintings, original music, sounds and spoken word to create other-worldly  immersive art and music experiences for their audiences. Black Lake exhibited/performed in art galleries and museums as well as in music venues. Black Lake also released 4 albums of their original music and sound art. 


Among several other awards, Susan is the recipient of the prestigious Lois Comfort Tiffany Award, an Arts Production Fund Artists at Giverny Fellowship and Residency and Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Residency. Black Lake Collective received a Berkshire Taconic Foundation Artist’s Resource Grant for their work. 


In 2014 Susan founded the experimental art and performance venue LABspace which was located first in Great Barrington and later moved to nearby Hillsdale, NY. After curating over 40 exhibitions, performances and events and building a thriving community of artists from the region as well as from NYC and beyond, Susan left the directorial position at LABspace passing that on to others. She still occasionally curates exhibitions and performances at LABspace and elsewhere. 

The John Dewey Art Program

At John Dewey, Susan encourages a multi-dimensional approach to the arts. Susan introduces an instruction-based approach to art and emparts a rich art history to the program. 

Her students also engage in independent projects such as writing poetry, learning songs on the guitar, ceramics, fiber arts, learning and practicing dance routines, and memorizing and performing monologues, all of which she supports, critiques, and helps to direct, encourage and co-problem solve. 

Susan offers students the opportunity to develop robust art portfolios by the end of her class, which acts as supplements to their applications to liberal arts colleges (many liberal arts schools are open to receiving portfolios even from students who do not intend to be art majors). 

Susan says, “I believe and have witnessed that as students engage in and develop a creative practice, they become happier.” 

We look forward to the bright, creative future our student have ahead of them!