Joel Pataconi

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Pataconi, Joel

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Wausau School District

Joel Pataconi

I have been teaching art at Wausau East High School for the past 23 years. I feel lucky to have spent my entire career in one school.  It has allowed me to develop so many connections with students and families in the Wausau community.  Few things are greater than watching a student grow in confidence to create art works that they're proud of. I enjoy teaching and love to make art. For me, the art making process is therapeutic. It helps me regain focus and balance. Pablo Picasso once said, "art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life."  I believe this is very true. I draw, paint, and construct assemblage boxes and sculptures.  Most of my works are made from found objects that many would consider to be junk. I like giving these discarded items new purpose and function. This style of work feels very much like play, but is also presents the ultimate in problem-solving. Working with found items also fulfills my need to find and collect things as well as my desire to reuse, renew, and recycle. I admire many artists, but the two that most inspire my work are Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg.


Contact: 715.261.0650 (ext.23101)  Instagram: mr.pataconi


Mr. Pataconi’s 5 Reasons to Take Art

You don’t have to be “good” at art to take art.  Wausau East Art students learn practical strategies to improve their art-making skills, but there are more important reasons to take art.  Art teaches qualities and skills that are desirable in the workforce and essential in today’s world.   


Art communicates.  

Art was the original form of communication.  The modern world is driven by technology, which has made communicating with visuals a necessity again.  Art teaches visual literacy: the ability to create images as well as interpret and make meaning from visual information. (Learning in a Visual Age, 2:03).  Art teaches you how to “read” an image and discuss your interpretations and judgement with others.  It removes language barriers and provides the opportunity to send a universal message.  It throws the doors for collaboration wide-open.



Art balances.

Art can balance your day and spirit.  It provides a break from other school subjects and  life stressors.  It restores your energy and focus.  This is not because art is an easy class, but because it allows you to turn on different parts of your brain.  Students can often “escape” into their project and mind to completely lose track of time.  The art room is also an environment that supports exploration, experimentation, and failure.  


Art expresses.

Leave you mark.  Be seen.  Be heard.  Be you.  You have a unique voice.  We can help you share it in a unique way.  You’ll have a choice in the work you make.  Our curriculum is designed from state and national art standards, but is tailored for our students.  All students are given projects or problems, but they develop their own unique solutions.  Finished works reflect each student’s individual voice and personal interests.  The more art classes you take; the more choice and voice you receive.  


Art makes you think.

Art makes you think more critically and creatively.  Most of this thinking is learned through hands-on making.  You’ll learn to examine things more closely and develop multiple ways of showing your ideas.  You’ll begin to envision an idea in its completed state and visualize the steps of how you’ll get there.  When things don’t go as planned, you’ll learn strategies to persist and find a solution to your problem.  Like an artist, you’ll record and reflect on your work process in a sketchbook or visual journal.  



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Art connects us to different cultures, places, and times.  Art is also connected to all the other subjects you’re studying.  Artists are students of life.  They use history, science, language, & math to show the world their unique perspective & vision.  Art even connects to most careers.  Every product we buy passes through the mind or hands of an artist.  Lastly, art connects you to yourself and others.


[National Art Education Association]. (2016, July 10). Learning in a Visual Age - Why Art Education Matters [Video File]. H ttps://



Cave Painting, Lascaux France:

Balanced Stones:


Michelangelo’s Creation of Man:




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