USF alumna honored with state art award

Mary Hilger, an art teacher at Indian Springs Middle School in Columbia City and a University of Saint Francis alumna, has been named Outstanding Indiana Art Educator of the Year by the Art Education Association of Indiana (AEAI).

Hilger was nominated by peers for outstanding artistic achievement and service in education. She received her award on Nov. 5 in Indianapolis during the AEAI annual convention.

Hilger has demonstrated her commitment to teaching and raising awareness of the arts. A Scholastic Art Award Competition advisory board member, she received a Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant to study Michelangelo in Italy, creating drawings and publishing illustrated books. An arts advocate and summer art camp teacher for 25 years, she facilitated a Japan student exchange and has discovered opportunities for her students to exhibit their work.

She has also worked with multiple churches and religious groups, creating impromptu chalk drawings for charity. Her portrait of Mother Theresa, presented to the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, now hangs in Mother Theresa’s Mother House in Calcutta, India. She also gifted Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI with portraits. An auction of her artwork has raised funds for the education of children in Abakaliki, Nigeria.