Springing from that artistic fervor comes Wickman's desire to teach. From a young age, the budding artist was attracted to both art and teaching. Her older sister pursued a career as an artist and mentored Wickman's artistic growth throughout high school. In kind, Wickman tutored her younger sister's friends in art. Wickman's love for teaching gained momentum while she was a graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder and taught undergraduate art students.
"Teaching acts as a great counterbalance to working as an artist," Wickman said. "Artists work in isolation in their studios. Teaching, on the other hand, allows me to bounce ideas off of others, to be constantly stimulated and challenged."
To spread her love of art to an even larger audience, Wickman took on the role of director of UCLA's ArtsBridge program in 1999. ArtsBridge gives scholarships to UCLA undergraduate and graduate students to teach art programs in K-12 classrooms throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. Low-performing, inner-city schools without arts programs are given priority. The UCLA students conduct workshops alongside supervising instructors in the areas of architecture, dance, design, ethnomusicology, music and performing and visual arts.
In operation for two years, ArtsBridge has reached more than 3,000 schoolchildren.
"I don't think enough people appreciate the great benefits of art for children," Wickman said. "Art expands a child's critical thinking skills. It teaches one to think less linearly and in less structured modes of thought."
Through the program, administrators hope not only to raise test scores in low-performing schools, but also to expose students to teaching as a possible career so that someday they — like Wickman — might express their passion through their work.