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Oklahoma teacher's art to be shown in native Worthington

Cindy Gharibvand rescued this grand piano top and turned it into a canvas for her art. It will be part of the exhibit that opens Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- It's been a busy few months for Oklahoma art teacher Cindy Gharibvand, who started off her summer vacation by accompanying a student to receive a national award at Carnegie Hall in New York City, then attended an Advanced Placement seminar for art instructors in Salt Lake City, Utah, and recently returned from a teacher's grant-funded trip to Africa.

Now, she'll top off her "whirlwind summer" by presenting an exhibit of her own work at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington -- her hometown.

Gharibvand, the daughter of George and Marjorie Johnson and 1975 graduate of Worthington High School, credits her high school experience with piquing her interest in art.

"I had the best art teacher, Mrs. Lorna James," Gharibvand said. "She was such an inspiration to me. I hope she shows up, because I'd love to say thank you. How she put up with me, I don't know. She started me on the road."

Gharibvand's road took her to Southwest Missouri State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in art education. After moving to Tulsa, she was a substitute teacher while her two daughters (now 27 and 24) were young before securing a position at Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow, Okla.

"Broken Arrow High School is the fifth largest in the nation. It's a huge, huge school," she said. "I'm fortunate because I teach all the gifted and talented who are going to college for art. It's unique in that we have our own studio space. We reinvented a piano storage room into individual cubicles for the students, so the seniors all have their own space. I take the top 18 and work with them, so I get the cream of the crop."

But even working with the gifted students is challenging, Gharibvand said, so she tries to keep the rest of her life as simple as possible, including her own artwork.

"We have a little lake house down here in Oklahoma, and we go out there and my husband fishes and I paint," she said. "That's my R&R time. I work hard at keeping it simple."

Gharibvand finds inspiration for her own work in nature.

"I'm very low-key, I like to work simple, and I like complicated compositions that look very simple," she explained. "I like to see the beauty in nature -- a small violet, a blade of grass -- something extraordinary from the ordinary."

She also finds some extraordinary things to paint upon, such as the top of a grand piano that she hoped to bring to the exhibit -- if it fit in her car.

"I work in lots of different mediums -- clay, glass, stained glass, prints --I was real big into prints for a while," she said. "What's the word? Osmosis. It just goes from one thing into another."

Gharibvand recently had a show at Northeastern State University in Broken Bow, so she plans to bring along a lot of those works. But she also plans to share a bit of her trip to Africa.

"I was one of about 400 teachers in the nation who got a teacher's grant for $10,000," she explained. "I was so excited to go. We got to visit the Maasai Tribe, go on a safari, and then my heart broke when we saw the deplorable educational system. I got really good pictures on the safari with all the animals, and the Maasai Tribe was really interesting. We got to talk to the chief in his little hut."

The opening reception for the exhibit will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center, located in the lower level of the Nobles County Library building, 407 12th St., Worthington.

The exhibit will continue through August. Hours are 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone 372-8245.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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