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Re: Art Teachers/Artists

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From: Mark Alexander (malexander06_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Feb 11 2002 - 06:56:29 PST


This is an interesting thread, one which I've given a lot of thought to over the years.

When I was in high school, I desperately wanted to be an artist. It was my goal to be the glamorous subject of one of those big glossy coffee table books. My mom was a teacher and numerous family friends were teachers, some were even art teachers. They were almost unanimous in advising me to become an art teacher, yet none of the coffee table books I'd seen were about art teachers, so I decided instead to go to a non-accredited art school because they had a very good program in classic fine arts, but no degree or teacher's certification program. The prevalent philosophy at this school included: "Don't let anything get in the way of your art. Do it even if it hurts. If you don't have time to make art, you aren't a real artist anyway." and other elitist crap.

So after art school I embarked on my art career with some success. At one point I was proud to be selling enough work to actually cover the cost of making and showing it, but funds to pay the rent and eat had to come from elsewhere, so my art career was constantly faced with the compromise of having to spend 40 plus hours per week trying to make a living in some other unrelated job.

At one point I found myself between jobs. This turned out to be very bad financially, but otherwise was really great because I got to spend more time making my art and volunteering in my son's classrooms giving mini art lessons. My own art work flourished, and I found inspiration in the paintings and sculptures my kids and their classmates made with me. I had often heard that there is a silver lining in all storm clouds. In this case, being unemployed gave me the opportunity to see that being an art teacher might be good for me after all.

So I returned to school as an undergrad, earned my degree and certificate, and became an art teacher. I find my job as an art teacher rewarding simply because I get to spend every day with young people and feed off of their energy. Also, my work as an art teacher inspires and informs my personal artwork. In fact, the major part of my art efforts the last couple of years began as the direct result of a sample mask I made for a 7th grade class.

Yes, I always wish I had more time to devote to my artwork, but since I don't have a trust fund and I have to have another job anyway, it may as well be a rewarding one which combines my interests in art with my true love of being with young people. If I won the lottery tomorrow and all of a sudden didn't have to work, I honestly think I'd continue teaching anyway. Maybe just part time, though, so I could devote more time to my own art.

Mark

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  how many art teachers really wanted to be artists; but for some reason (afraid of failure, didn't want to be a starving artist...)became teachers instead.

  I

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