Write up for the Governor’s Education Leadership in the Arts Award, presented to James Rees 2016


A widely-known champion of the arts, James Rees is a passionate advocate for art education that balances theory, research, and practice. With more than 24 years of teaching experience, James currently teaches full-time at Provo High School, but he has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in art and art education at Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, and Westminster College.


James was recently elected by his peers to become vice president of the National Art Education Association after serving as the Pacific Region Secondary Representative. He is a Fulbright Memorial Scholar, a Teachers Institute of Contemporary Art Fellow, and an Art21 Fellow. James has served as reviewer for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Utah Arts Festival, providing guidance on community outreach and educational initiatives.


James advocates for the arts nationally and locally to empower students and their teachers in and through the arts. He has demonstrated leadership as the past president of the Utah Art Education Association and brought national leaders to Utah to share innovative curricular approaches to teaching and affecting youth through the arts. His awards include the Sorenson Legacy Foundation Award for Excellence in Arts Education, Utah Art Educator of the Year and National Art Education Secondary Educator of the Year.


He has partnered with national organizations such as Art 21, a PBS program, and has hosted premiers of their films. James has presented numerous times throughout the state and region, whether it is about contemporary art in museums, through the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning program, or working with teens in the Homeless Youth Resource Center.


James Rees completely defines what it means to be an innovative teacher, practicing artist, and advocate for arts education.”