Teaching Artists, first and foremost, teach artistry.  We’ve come a long way from the days when the word connoted trickery, or cunning deception. Today we are skilled professionals that cultivate, with clarity, the artistic process through a variety of methods. We develop meaningful classroom environments where students learn, communicate, manifest, compose, question, originate, produce, imagine, perform, arrange, execute and create a work of art. In a skilled Teaching Artist’s classroom this work feels like a joyous and serious journey of discovery.

    As practitioners and educators we know how to bring art into being through our students’ head, heart and hands. We often do this in the face of difficult obstacles, and we accomplish our goals with dedication and a well developed sense of humor. It isn’t enough to love our art form; we must know it with sufficient power, intelligence and competency to convey artistic process in manageable and understandable lessons. It is important to learn how to break down the process without disrupting flow, and to keep our students’ attention through inevitable frustration and reluctance, to use their self-doubt, fear and curiosity to propel them into a deeper relationship with their work.  We must challenge them at all times to attempt their best work.

     My students affirm that my writing residencies make them feel and think differently. They discover a new sense of freedom. They say that through art-making they learn to focus, that it opens their eyes to a new way of being in the world, and they develop a stronger belief in themselves and their art.

Teachers & Writers magazine, a national publication that supports learning through the literary arts, featured my article “Picturing Poetry” in its Winter issue, 2009, Volume 40, Number 2. Back issues can be ordered.

Teaching Artistry

With words alone, you don’t make the soup.

Rumanian Proverb

Community partners in Arts-in- Education have included:

The Western New York Writing Project

Writers and Books

Cepa Gallery

University at Buffalo’s Anderson Gallery

Buffalo State’s Rooftop Poetry Club

The Albright Knox - A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words program


Just Buffalo Literary Center


The Western New York Writing Project at Canisius College, Summer Institute 2010

The Banff Centre’s

Wired Writing Program

Canada’s creative leader

in arts and culture

Karen was a member of the Board of Directors of CAPC The Coalition of Arts Providers for Children

photo by Karen Lee Lewis

photo by Jon Hand

Picturing Poetry: Writing with Light Curriculum design. Students discovered how to connect to our theme by creating original photographs, poetry and personal essays. Teaching Artists Karen Lee Lewis and Amy Meza Luraschi joined with Native American Magnet School teacher Robin Fischer to develop a relevant and challenging 10 week project. This project was filmed for a documentary by Jon R. Hand and was shown on our local PBS station. Read Poetry Editor R. D. Pohl’s review of the film in The Buffalo News.

Read an Artvoice interview with J. Tim Raymond featuring the signature Writing With Light program developed by Karen Lee Lewis and Amy Luraschi for Just Buffalo Literary Center and Cepa Gallery.

Karen has taught in the following Western New York schools:

Canisius College, Buffalo, guest lecturer

General Elwell S. Otis School, #30, Rochester

Immaculate Conception, East Aurora

Chester Dewey School, Rochester

NativityMiguel School for Girls, Buffalo

Eden Middle School, Eden

Build Academy, Buffalo

Como Park Elementary, Lancaster

Tapestry Charter School at Cepa Gallery

Olmsted Gifted and Talented School, Buffalo 

Highgate Heights, Buffalo

Depew Middle School, Depew

Stanley Makowski Elementary, Buffalo

Discovery School, Buffalo

Native American Magnet School, Buffalo

Harvey Austin, Buffalo

Hamlin Park Elementary School, Buffalo

University at Buffalo-Anderson Art Gallery

Akron Elementary School, Akron

P.S. 18 Dr. Antonia Pantoja Community School of Academic Excellence

Highland Elementary School, Tonawanda

Daemon College, Amherst, Distance Learning guest lecturer

photo by

Laura Kleinschmidt


Karen was the Artist-in-Residence for The Park School of Buffalo for 2011-2012. The Park School is “nestled on a picturesque, 34-acre campus on Harlem Road in Snyder, New York. The Park School has been a leader of progressive education in Western New York for more than 90 years.” Karen developed a year long project that is the result of a unique collaboration between the Western New York Writing Project, Earth Spirit Educational Services and The Park School.

Gerry Rising, Nature Watch columnist for The Buffalo News,

writes about The Park School Field  Guide project!

Karen was one of 30 Teaching Artists from across the country who attended The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts

National Seminar for Teaching Artists in August 2012!  This seminar was “designed to strengthen the quality and impact of teaching artists' work. The participants explored the Kennedy Center's definition of arts integration and its approach to planning effective residencies for students, as well as designing lesson plans.”  The seminar helped to create and support local networks in which teaching artists can generate new ideas and provide higher-quality instruction.”

Karen is currently developing a peer to peer writing lab at Frederick Law Olmsted School in Buffalo, NY. This multi-year effort is a special project of The Western New York Writing Project at Canisius College. The WNYWP is an affiliate of the National Writing Project University at California at Berkeley.

Karen is on the Advisory Council of the WNYWP. She also designs classroom based writing residencies that can be implemented in your school. As a Teacher Consultant Karen has created innovative programming for several of the Writing Projects key partner schools. To schedule a consultation please contact Elizabeth Brandjes, Director of Educations Partnerships at 716-888-2768, or at brandjee@canisius.edu.  You many also visit the Writing Project blog to learn more about our work.