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What’s
the connection between martial arts and fine arts? You can find the answer in
the life of Ken Hay, one of four fine arts teachers at Hillbrook School. Ken is
highly proficient at both.

“Martial arts,” he claims, “makes me a better
painter. Martial arts teaches you where to put your focus, and that takes
self-discipline. It takes not accepting second best from yourself. It takes
understanding that there are different levels of accomplishment. You don’t
achieve all your goals at once.  That’s good practice for art. It’s good
practice for anything!”

Ken’s
formal training began at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and he
completed his BFA degree at Tufts University. Before coming to Hillbrook, Ken
taught martial arts and was a long-term artist-in-residence at several public
schools. All along, he continued his career as a practicing professional, mainly
in watercolor. Ken’s art program at Hillbrook is both broad and deep. “We cover
fundamentals of painting, digital photography, oil painting, acrylics, water
color, Japanese woodblock prints, puppetry, set design, woodshop, ceramics.
There’s something for every kind of kid; some way they can express themselves,”
he says. Hillbrook students agree. They often hang out with Ken at lunch and do
just that, working on projects in his campus studio.

But the
most important life lesson Ken wants his students to take away goes far beyond
learning about art as a subject. “I want them to be confident not only with
their skills in a number of different artistic mediums. I want them to be
confident in their own creativity. Art tells us to be courageous. Take some
risks. Exercise creativity. Use imagination in everything you do. That’s what I
want my students to know.”

“Art,”
Ken Hay reminds us, “is a way of life.”