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Redefining Retirement: Portrait of an Artist

Redefining Retirement

With a natural talent for art—particularly drawing portraits—in
her youth Migdalia Galarza dreamed of becoming an artist, but
like many others, felt the pressure to find the stability of a
“real” job. She began working as a substitute teacher for CPS,
took night classes to earn her certification (which she achieved
in 1993), then worked as a full time teacher until she retired
from Sabin Magnet Elementary School in 2012.

While she enjoyed her teaching career, Migdalia never lost touch
with her inner artist, and would incorporate art into her
classroom whenever possible, such as having her students design
posters illustrating the cyclical changes in nature and create
comic strips to tell stories from their history lessons.

Following retirement, she slowly started tapping into her own
artistic drive again, experimenting with mediums like pen and
ink, pastels, oil on canvas, and even decoupage woodwork, before
focusing in on acrylic paint on canvas. She dedicates time every
week to her work, finding inspiration from her love of nature and
her passion about social issues, and is continuously refining her
techniques and finding her voice.

After a first career as a teacher,
Migdalia now fully embraces her identity as an artist. Some of
her favorite artists include Henri Matisse for his use of color,
Yayoi Kusama for her bold repetition of shape, and Cecelia Beaux
for her portraits, and while she doesn’t show any of her own work
yet, Migdalia never says never. Because it’s never too late to
start something new.

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