MASADA College farewelled and acknowledged Daphne Flax last Friday upon her retirement after 35 years of teaching visual arts at the school, and for “contributing to the lives of generations of young people”.
The North Shore-based Jewish school especially recognised her role in developing a culture of excellence in visual arts.
Ryan Gill, Masada’s Head of Senior School, said of Flax, “Her talents and unwavering support for our students, and the college, is admired and revered.”
After her first decade at Masada, teaching visual arts across the school, Flax became its Head of Creative Arts, and visual arts education enjoyed enormous growth.
Flax said, “With a predisposition to a playfulness with ideas, materials and processes – and a tolerance for ambiguity – Masada was able to provide unique opportunities for transformation and innovation.
“The wonderful results came from teasing out ideas, rather than finding premature closure.”
Masada’s visual arts department expanded because the classes were challenging and sensory under Flax’s watch, and feedback from her lessons and programs were that the classroom was never dull.
Ever cognisant of political, economic, environmental, social and technological changes, the aim of Masada’s visual arts department was to remain contemporary and relevant.
As in so many other disciplines, Flax viewed technological advances as a major force of change during her career.
“Technology has changed the way students do research, the way they think, the artworks we are able to look at, and the artworks the students make, as well as the communication and accessibility between student and teacher,” she said.
Excellent HSC results by students in visual arts, as well as consistent Artexpress nominations and selections, also engendered trust and aspiration, leading to more students selecting the subject.
Two of her students topped the state in art – her son Clifford and Tandi Rabinowitz.
Flax was invited to join the NSW panel of HSC final exam markers, and lectured at several visual arts teachers’ symposiums at the Art Gallery of NSW, New York’s Museum of Contemporary Arts, and other venues.
She also won a NSW Quality Teaching Award for contributing significantly to critical and historical studies, and supporting creative art-making practices.
Flax said she is retiring with a sense of accomplishment, and wonderful memories of Masada.
“The gift of longevity in a profession is to see the seed planted flourish and bear fruit,” she said.
“This pertains to each student, as well as to the vivacity of the Masada’s visual arts department, which has a bright future.”