After reading through the amazing life / art teaching affirmations in
today's digest, I thought I would add my 2 bits to an already rich and
colorful tapestry of personal reflections.
I grew up in Bed Sty, Bklyn and Jamaica, Queens in NYC (a very long way from
the hobby farm and animals that make up my and my wife's current abode).
Early on I remember that in elementary school I was always being asked to do
the 'bulletin board' artwork, posters, and the like, entering an art
contest that I got 2nd place in, and being part of a movie that was made
involving our class at the Brooklyn Museum . My mom was probably the
earliest influence as she used to sit with me by the livingroom window and
as we would watch the traffic go by, whe would get me to identify the
various colors of the vehicles. Similarly, when we would take camping
vacations on Long Island, we would search for various bits of salt water
worn bits of glass that appeared to come in an assortment of greens and
blues along the beaches that bordered the Long Island Sound. Finding
popping seaweed was also a treasure, but I digress.
My involvement in art was primarily generated by influences I had at home
(outings to museums, trips to Shakespearean plays in Connectictut with my
family, a ton of books that we had in the house), as the art education that
was available throughout most of my years in public school was minimal at
best. I did have one high school art teacher that was a good influence on
me, but more on a personal basis, encouraging me to tajke additional art
classes that were offered at Wahington H.S. in Manhattan on Saturdays and
during the summers.
Attending college was prompted by needing to find a way to avoid the draft
as much as anything (we had spent years on protest lines marching against
the atomic bomb in the early 60's and then against our involvement in
Vietnam in the late 60s and early 70's). As art had become my refuge, art
school seemed to be the best way to go and so I applied and was accepted to
Pratt Institute where I double majored in fine art (painting and sculpture
were my areas of concentration), and art education (teaching was still a
draft deferable occupation at that time). During my senior year, I did my
'student teaching'(actually I was the teacher as there was no cooperating
teacher), at a school for dropouts on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. The
experiences I had there were truly the reason for my still teaching art 32
years later. The positive differences that I found that teachers could
actually make in people's lives was (and continues to be), an incredible
source of accomplishment and fullfilment.
That sense of purpose has led me to teach to a wide variety of places both
urban and rural, private and public, large and small, affluent and
econimally impoverished. In every instance it is always the students that
make the job an ever changing, creative and totally enyoyable (although
often challenging), vocation.
In recent years I have arrived at a place in my professional life that I
have wanted to give back to the profession that has literally helped to
bring definition to who I am. Subsequently I spent several years as the
Fine Arts Facilitator in the district I have been teaching in for the past 9
years, I have been on our state art educator assocation's council for the
past 11 years, currently serving as its president, and I have been an
ArtsConnectEd trainer for the Mpls. Institute and the Walker Art Center for
the past 5 years.
Most recently I am now involved in teaching the AP Art Studio and Art
History classes in my school in addition to my other courses.
Also, and this needs to be said, I still paint...lol!