Passion for education and art leads teacher to Athenaeum


Cornelia Feye is dedicated to teaching people about art, and she hopes to share her passion with La Jolla in her new role as School of the Arts and art education director for the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library.

Coming in on the heels of the library’s recent renovation, which conjoined all three original buildings, the Athenaeum is ready for Feye’s enthusiastic energy and innovative ideas.

“I felt this was a good time to come here,” Feye said, “because the Athenaeum had just completed its expansion. It’s a time when new things are possible. I felt maybe I could bring some new programs to the Athenaeum, to the school and expand on the programs here.”

Feye, who holds a master’s in art history from the University of Tubingen in Germany, has worked at several area museums as curator or art educator, including the Mingei International Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, the California Center for the Arts Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art. She also taught college art history classes.

Art and education are themes in Feye’s life, both professionally and personally. She attributes this to her two sons, Max, 10, and Sebastian, 14, who live with her and her husband, Glen Feye, in San Diego.

“They’re probably one of the reasons I’m passionate about art and education,” Feye said. “I realized you have to expose them to the world of art early on, or it will be harder and harder for them to find access.”

The School of the Arts already has a well-rounded curriculum that offers a variety of classes at two locations: the La Jolla studio adjacent to the library itself and the San Diego studio at 4441 Park Blvd. Feye hopes to expand this success by adding new classes and integrating the art studio more closely with the other components of the library.

Having started her new position less than six weeks ago, Feye is still getting acquainted with the Athenaeum and La Jolla, but she already has some new ideas and projects on the table that are generating anticipation. She would like to offer more art classes for children, add photography and ceramics to the School of the Arts curriculum, develop a program to showcase the library’s film collection, create a series of art history classes, coordinate exhibits with related classes or lectures, and initiate collaborative relationships with other La Jolla art organizations.

Another of her goals is to more tightly align the library’s art and music components.

“They’re not different departments,” Feye said. “They are all connected. They all go together like a composition.”

The Athenaeum has always worked to bring both classic and contemporary art and music to its patrons. With Feye’s ability to create cultural learning environs, students and visitors stand to walk away with a keener appreciation for and deeper understanding of art and music. She wants to teach people how to incorporate the arts into their daily life.

“The Athenaeum has this great history and tradition, and we want to maintain that,” Feye said, “but we also want to communicate to people that we are very here and now.”

The School of the Arts and summer session music and art programs begin June 1. There are a variety of classes at both studio locations, such as floral design, drawing, painting, book art, calligraphy and sculpture. For kids, there are four sessions that can be combined to create a camp-like experience for them.

There will also be several exhibitions and concerts that La Jolla residents can enjoy over the summer. The Alida Cervantes exhibit, June 23 to July 28, features an artist who is also a teacher at the School of the Arts. The soundON New Music Festival, June 13 to 16, is four days of contemporary music with open rehearsals, roundtable discussions, forums and performances by composers and musicians from around the world.

By fall, Feye will have had time to implement some of her ideas for building on the Athenaeum’s 108 years of success. Her primary goal is to bring about a better understanding of the importance of art and music, she said.

“In all art,” Feye said, “the more you know, the more you will see and the more you will appreciate it.”

For information on Athenaeum programs, exhibits or classes, call (858) 454-5872 or visit