An Advocate for the Arts | Erica Coffing
Sometimes a person’s talent is so infectious that they can’t help but spread it around.
When we first profiled Erica Coffing in our second edition of Digital Wolf Magazine, she was an emerging and prolific visual artist whose star was rightfully on the rise. Primarily a portrait and figure artist who uses the mediums of oils, charcoal, and pastels, she strives to create emotionally resonating images of her subjects. The accolades she has received are proof of the talent exhibited in her pieces. Somehow, there still seemed to be something missing in her life.
In November of 2019, Erica, working as a graphic designer for a local company, realized that it was not providing her with the creative challenges she craved on a day-to-day basis. As fate would have it, the desire to explore new avenues in art coincided with a temporary stint as a substitute teacher at Rochester Middle School. Her work with children inspired and reenergized her in a way that changed her career trajectory.
“I got into that energy- interacting with the students, and getting to know them, and sharing my knowledge and love of art,” she says. “That’s when I knew what my next challenge would be; I wanted to teach.”
With the same tenacity she put into learning her craft, she began to diligently prepare herself for being an educator by enrolling in Indiana University Kokomo’s Transition to Teaching program. Her efforts soon paid off when the Caston School Corporation hired her as the new Jr./Sr. High School Art Teacher less than a year after deciding to embark on this new journey.
As expected, Erica has found it as satisfying and rewarding as she could have hoped. “The students make it worth all of the hard work,” she says. “It is easy to get attached to them, and it is wonderful to be around young people all day and to see them learn and make progress. It is truly rewarding.”
The sense of fulfillment that comes with sharing her talent has extended beyond the school as Erica has held instructional workshops for creating portraits with charcoal and oil paints that were open to all ages. She also strives to set a positive example by utilizing her increasing public profile to contribute time and effort to many arts-related pursuits in the community. In addition to serving as the Gallery Coordinator for the Rochester Branch of the Fulton County Public Library, Erica also serves on the boards of the Round Barn Lab and Full Tilt Arts, volunteers with The Times Theater Arts Committee, and is a member of the Heartland Artist Gallery and the Logansport Art Association. “It can be exhausting at times, but advocating for the arts in the community is essential,” Erica says. “We should create an environment of positivity with rich and diverse activities in our hometown because the arts are a powerful solution for changing culture and bringing people together.”
Erica embraces the idea that being a success is not measured by fame and attention but by realizing her potential and helping others to do the same. “I believe that we, as humans, are wired to keep pushing ourselves, creating a life of variety and possibility, and never shrinking from a challenge,” she says. Relaying a message that students of all ages can learn from; “My intention is: to reshape the world I am given.”