By Joan Robbio
This periodic series of three images and responses to questions tells the stories of people of The Valley who love what they do. As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
This month features Roarke Sharlow, teacher/photographer, Moosewalk Studios, Warren, Vermont.
“How long have you lived in Vermont and where did you grow up?
My husband Gary and I have made Warren our home since 2004. The number of working artists in the community was a major reason for our move to the Mad River Valley. The city of Rome, NY, is my hometown.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I love teaching. I remember in sixth grade I would teach my two younger siblings about various topics I was learning in school using my parent’s new set of Encyclopedia Britannica. I love photography. My grandmother gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera when I was in first grade. I thought it was so cool that I could stop time by capturing an image using a camera and film.
What was your first job and how did you get it?
I was hired as a visual arts teacher in a public school in western New York state. I taught middle school art, high school photography and yearbook design for 15 years before moving to Vermont.
Who was the biggest influence in your decision to choose the work you now do?
Mr. Larry Migliori, my high school photography teacher, was a significant influence on my decision to pursue teaching as a career and create images in photography. I truly admired Mr. Migliori’s teaching methods, relationship with students and enthusiasm for people to create in the visual arts.
What steps did you take to get where you are today/what sacrifices have you made to get to this point in the work you do?
I completed both my BS and MS in education (visual arts) teaching degrees and became a permanently certified educator in the New York state education system. My photography journey was further enhanced by my participation in two amazing contemporary photographers’ workshops. Jane Tuckerman taught me to explore my art images by pushing the medium further. Brian Lav taught me to improve and hone my technical skills.
What is the best job advice that you’ve ever received?
There are so many wonderful words of advice that I have received throughout my job career but I found this one is quite important: “Believe in yourself.”
What are you most grateful for in your life?
I am truly grateful for my husband, family, friends and fellow teachers for supporting my journey to help others to recognize their creativity through photography.
How do you give back?
I enjoy providing photography lessons to students and adults so they can learn more about their camera and image-taking techniques.
Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?
“Check to make sure that the lens cover has been removed.”
Thank you to Ashley Rogers and Syrena Sharlow who agreed to be photographed at the Moosewalk Gallery while Roarke explained more about his images to them.