Hannah Florendo and the distance between astronaut and art teacher
“You want to know the truth? I’d say I want to be an astronaut.”
Hannah Florendo, founder of art school Artastic!, dreamed of being many things: a mom, a cook, a spacewoman, but never really a teacher. “No. Never in my dreams.” Florendo grew up in a home filled with art. Her mom and sister are both artists and were her first mentors. “I’d watch my mom paint all the time, and I’d steal her paint brushes and art materials and do it on my own. That’s how I fell in love with art.”
But in a narrative all too familiar, the occupation of growing up and finding a career swayed Florendo from the artistic path. While she was pursuing a degree in Fine Arts, the lack of career options for artists troubled her. “Back then, fine arts programs in colleges weren’t that up-to-date. I remember taking up an advertising class, but our curriculum would be about working with clay. I didn’t get to use a computer until I was much older.”
Unsure of whether she’d be able to make a living with a degree in art, she shifted to hotel and restaurant management. After graduating with a degree she didn’t use, Florendo was on her own. “In our family, once you’re done with college, you’re pretty much on your own. That was my parents’ way of getting you to be more independent.”
While searching for a job, it was her husband, Lorenz, who suggested she teach art to their friends’ kids. Artastic!’s first class was a modest seven kids in a small room in Florendo’s home in La Guardia. Four years and three relocations later, Artastic! has grown from a summer art program for kids to a bona fide art school with a curriculum that evolves with
HANNAH FLORENDO DREAMS UP A VISION FOR ARTASTIC! THAT GOES BEYOND AN ART SCHOOL TO AN ESTABLISHMENT THAT EMPOWERS FUTURE ARTISTS TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ART.