Member Spotlight February 2021

Carol Zack

The visual arts have been an important part of Carol’s life. Her mother also had artistic talents and supported Carol’s interest in art by sharing her love of painting wall murals, interior decorating, sewing, and beautifully hand-made desserts. In high school, Carol took as many art classes, music classes and performing arts activities as possible. Carol considered pursuing a career in art Illustration, designing sets or performing on Broadway. Her high school art teacher in Champaign, Fred Atterbury, was one of her early mentors and encouraged her to enter her artwork in the National Scholastic Art Award Competition. As a result, she received a scholarship to the George Peabody College for Teachers (now the education campus of Vanderbilt University) in Nashville. She fondly remembers the excellent faculty who provided a great foundation for painting and teaching art, including Department Head, Don Irving, Drawing Instructor, Ed Miller, Art History and Painting Professor, Arthur Orr, and her student teaching advisor Don Pleacher.

Upon graduating in 1970, Carol returned home to Champaign and found her first job teaching art at Rantoul TWP High School. Carol was very active in developing an art curriculum that was rich in extracurricular activities. In the summer, Carol taught at an art camp that was held on the grounds of the Allerton Mansion in Monticello, IL. The camp was run by the University of Illinois and the Illinois Women’s Club, and it was the camp where Carol had been a scholarship recipient during her high school years.

The Art Program at Rantoul High School was well funded and continued to grow, which allowed a third teacher to be hired to teach art history – that teacher was Ed Zack. Carol and Ed were married in 1974. In 1976 Ed began working on his doctorate in art education, and Carol was awarded a teaching assistantship at U of I where she completed her Masters degree in Art Education in 1979. Carol’s university mentors included Professor Edward Betts, Professors Mark Sprague, Glenn Bradshaw and Billy Morrow Jackson, and art educators Dr.Ted Zurnich and Dr. Kenneth Lansing.

In 1979 the Zacks moved to Muncie, Indiana with their young daughter Kate. They joined the art education faculty at Ball State University, but left after 2 years when the School of Art significantly reorganized and blended into a new architecture curriculum. Carol started a new career in Visual Merchandising & Communications for a fortune 500 retailer and Ed found a job teaching art in the local schools. In1986, Carol was promoted to a larger retail store located in Columbus, Ohio and Ed found a corporate training position with Discover Card. In 1997 Carol began working in Corporate Communications. Her work focused on Visual Merchandising and Communications for all the company’s retail stores, which required extensive traveling. Ed took a corporate training job with First Card of Chicago, and the Zacks left Ohio and settled in Elgin. In 2005, major corporate changes in her company occurred, and Carol found herself officially retired. The Zacks had very little time to create art while working in the corporate world, but it was finally time to paint again. 

So how did the Zacks discover Fine Line Creative Arts Center? As often happens, it was a chance experience of picking up a Fine Line brochure in a St. Charles store that changed their lives once again. Carol was intrigued with the Fine Line Program and was delighted to live so close. In 2005 she decided to take an oil pastel class with George Shipperley, who was a Fine Line instructor at the time. She took a number of classes with George and appreciated his approach of guiding and coaching his students. Carol considered George to be another influential mentor, and he encouraged her to paint and get back to her artistic roots.

In 2006, Carol began teaching pastel painting at Fine Line and continues to instruct and present workshops and demos. She enjoys working with a variety of media, processes and subject matter and especially finds working with oil pastels very rewarding. As Carol states: “My passion for painting is centered on expressing and responding to the energy and color I sense in nature. The non-toxic nature of the oil pastel medium makes it the right choice for today’s eco-friendly world. A wide variety of styles, from realism to abstract expressionism can be explored from creating and interpreting large floral studies and impressionistic landscapes, and in gestural and traditional figure studies as well as commissioned portraits.”

Carol also taught at the Illinois Institute of Art for three years, but enjoys teaching at the Fine Line and at the DuPage Art League on a very consistent basis. She teaches workshops throughout the area and provides virtual lessons when needed. Using her K-12 and university teaching experiences, she participates in Fine Line initiatives like Exploration Day, Fine Line Fine Arts Festival and Teacher Institute Day. She is always open to including young adult students in her class when they are serious about studying art and can adapt well to working in a creative adult environment. 
Carol is a member of the Yellow House Artists group and is also a member of the Portrait Society of America and the American Impressionist Society. She has exhibited locally at Palette and Chisel in Chicago, Addison Center for the Arts, Bloomingdale Park District Museum, Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg, Provena St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, Art Space in Elgin, Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Pheasant Run in St. Charles, Northwest Area Arts Council and Old Courthouse Figurative League in Woodstock, Holmstadt in Batavia, Wasco Nursery Garden Center, Elmhurst Art Museum, Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles, Gallery 116 in the Mixology Salon and Spa in St. Charles, Kavanagh and Dempsey Galleries at Fine Line, and Dupage Art League. She has also exhibited at St. Clair Art Association, St. Clair, Mi. and Arkansas Pastel Society, Little Rock, Ark.

You can reach Carol at: for information about her work and on her website at: