Employee Spotlight

Sara DeNeal | Art Director | Serving SIC since 2014

Employee Spotlight

Sara DeNeal



Associate of Art in Art, Rend Lake College

Bachelor of Science in Art Education, SIU-Carbondale

Master of Art in Teaching and Instructional Strategies, Rockford University

Post-graduate work in Studio Art at SIU-Carbondale

What other positions have you held prior to SIC?

I was a K-12 Art teacher for 10 years before coming to SIC. I taught both elementary and high school art at Harrisburg CUSD#3 and Mt. Vernon Township High School.  

What does SIC mean to you?

SIC means opportunity for the people of Southeastern Illinois. This campus is a special place for me because it gives me a platform to reach the entire area when promoting the Fine Arts. The cutting and program reductions of Visual Art, Theater and Music in local school districts have been detrimental to the efforts of dedicated Fine Art teachers. These cuts are reflected in the enrollment in the Humanities at the college level from high schools in the region.

Additionally, I have always felt that SIC is the perfect place to prepare the students from our region for the rigor of college and the challenges of adult living before stepping into a University setting.

What is your favorite memory at SIC?

One of my favorite memories at SIC happened on the SIC stage which holds many wonderful and funny memories. It was the day after I found out that I got the job here at SIC, I had been spending my summer doing set design work for the Junior Falcons Production of Shrek. Allan Kimball came by and I gave him a big hug when I realized I would be working with him!

What do you do in your spare time?

Honestly my favorite thing to do is take naps. Naps are a glorious thing and now that my children are older I can nap and nap and nap. What I actually end up doing in my spare time is taking care of my family by doing the laundry, feeding the two-legged and four-legged animals and cleaning my house (which is usually not without protest.)  I also love Facebook.

Where’s your favorite vacation spot?

Anywhere there is an art museum and opportunities to learn more about the world. Italy has been my favorite so far.

In the movie based on your life, who plays you?

My husband always says Anne Hathaway.Adelaide Kane looks more like me but not as well known, she would be a good “young Sara.” Alanis Morissette would be my top look-alike pick but she doesn’t act anymore. 

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

It would most definitely be my mom. I miss her. 

How would you spend $1 million?

Pay off the mortgage and ger out of debt. Invest for retirement. Save for Madeleine and Wilson's college. Send my husband, Travis, back to school, if he wanted to go. Give people presents. J Take trips to amazing places with art museums and amazing opportunities to learn more about the world. 


What is your dream? 


Maybe to open an art studio right by my house with ceramics and pottery classes, but I’m pretty content with life at this point. 



What is the best piece of advice you've ever heard and can give to others?

Always continue to make goals and work toward them. 

 Joshua 1:9 New International Version (NIV)


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What is your favorite quote?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."
-Albert Einstein, What Life Means to Einstein (1929)

Artist Statement: As an artist, I have experience with a variety of media. However, I identify best with drawing, ceramics, and printmaking. My themes often deal with personal history or nature. I see beauty all around me and enjoy creating my own representation. My roles of mother and teacher have influenced my artwork and I often find myself looking at the world through the lens of new discovery. I look at the lives of Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, and Faith Ringgold for inspiration as a female artist and teacher. I owe my passion for art to my parents. My mother was a quilt maker and father is a weaver. I am forever grateful for their intelligence and creativity.



It would most definitely be my mom. I miss her.