Local artist shares talent
by Johnny Weeks | May 11, 2019 6:35 pm
The career of local artist Kass Varn has spanned many years. She has taught students in various venues on how to create art for almost 50 years.
Varn drew and painted as a child and always loved to create pictures. She graduated from Branchville High School in 1961. Varn then applied to Columbia College and majored in art. Following graduation, she was hired to be a teacher at Alice Drive School in 1965. After a few years, she accepted a job to teach history and social studies at Manning High School.
“When I came to Manning, there was no art department in 1971,” said Varn. “They finally decided to let me teach art. I was the first art teacher in Manning schools.”
Varn said that at first, her classroom had no sinks or water to clean the art supplies. She said that when she first brought it to the attention of her supervisors, she was told to carry buckets of water upstairs each day to be used by the students. Eventually, Varn was able to teach in another classroom that had sinks already installed which solved her cleaning problems.
Varn would continue to teach art class at Manning High until 1996 when she decided to retire. She then started teaching private classes to students at her home for the next three years. She was offered an art teaching job at the Phoenix Center in Alcolu in 2002. That job would last around 10 years until her husband Glen became ill. Varn then left the Phoenix Center to care for him full time.
Varn said that creating art has been a wonderful addition to her life for as long as she can remember. She also said that she has taught countless numbers of students in her lifetime, and is proud to say that several of her former students have continued in their lives to pursue art education and as careers. Some of her students became art teachers themselves. One of her students, Tarleton Blackwell, is well known for his artwork. His work is displayed in art galleries nationwide.
Varn has many wonderful stories of her life as a teacher. The students, their work, and improving her art techniques for so many years will live on in Varn’s memories for a long time.