Brace yourself. This is a manifesto of sorts about what I will be bringing to this blog in the coming years. This clarity developed after numerous conversations with Laura and a lot of reflection about where I have been and where I am going.
After teaching college for several years, I decided to return to teaching art to first through sixth graders to deepen my research about teaching and learning. This has been a strong thread in much of the artwork I have created over the past decade. I was hesitant to take the job, not sure if I wanted the stress and time sink, but I have witnessed how small hands create profound work. They work through the death of a parent, develop projects to give to the needy, and express their love and attachment to those they care about through paint, clay, drawing and then mix it all together without fear. They often don’t have filters that adults do, which is cause for many funny stories around the dinner table at night, but also leaves the flood gates open to creativity. It’s this kind of raw energy and authentic creation that feeds me personally and professionally as an artist.
I am interested in shattering the myth that teachers can not be taken seriously as professional artists. I have not stopped creating work since taking this job and don’t plan to (I have been included in several national exhibitions this year- not trying to brag but just demonstrating it is possible). Sure, I am not producing as much as I might with a full-time studio practice, but the work that is coming through me is hitting my passion and is fed by my teaching experiences. Understanding what feeds oneself creatively is a big deal to finally recognize. I’d like to say I have “matured”. Hahaaa- my kids would totally disagree with that!
My research boils down to several “essential questions” I have been asking myself for the past five years. An “essential question” is a provocative one that strengthens and deepens understanding and may take many forms of research to answer.
Here we go…….
1. How can my passion for education and studio work cross-pollinate? How do I cultivate an inner voice while teaching others?
2. How can I help young women reach their authentic voice? (I am teaching in an all-girls school)
3. What does authentic chid art look like? What are studio habits of mind (how do they think through creative problems differently than adults)? What is their authentic voice apart from adult influence?
4. How can education encourage passion and originality?
I will go into each of these in more depth in the coming weeks.
There are plenty of websites that will show art educators how to develop lessons and curriculum, but I won’t be doing that here. What I am more interested in is the philosophical underpinnings of our current education system that supports a child’s voice (or not….ahh hummm- standardized tests). These questions will be woven into my writing here on L2T as I transition my teaching to a choice-based art curriculum (Laura developed a beautiful program like this years ago) where a child’s voice can be explored and celebrated. I believe children have a lot to teach us. Most importantly, this will be paired with how I am exploring my voice as an artist through drawing, sculpture, and mixed media art.
For a long time I felt like I had to hide the fact that I love teaching kids in order to be taken seriously as an artist (and there are snobs out there that will still whisper that- whatevs), but I now clearly see this is my strength.