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[teacherartexchange] discussion on Artist vs. Teacher

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From: leah rachlis (leah_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 21 2006 - 19:36:45 PDT


Hi All,

I managed to stay out the latest round of discussion on Artist vs. Teacher -
but all your comments did keep me thinking, I even started to respond a few
times, but found I was contradicting myself - in writing - which gets to be
embarrassing after a while.

BUT - I brought it up to my instructor from my Grad school classes - she is
an art teacher/artist as well - and she had an interesting comment, which
was:

  When we are an artist, we have a very self absorbed kind of energy - it
is all about US and our ART. When we are an Art Teacher - our energy is more
of a nurturing type, as we encourage our students to reach into themselves
for that "Artist" kind of energy - - which is very different and it is hard
to come from both places at once.

I thought this was an interesting perspective. I had been thinking from my
own experience, having been an art student for most of my youth. I had
instructors both private teachers and some in public school and then later
in college and at the Art Students League. I never had any instructors who
were not artists themselves - but I was not always conscious of their work,
more often than not, it was all about me (and my work). I knew they were
capable and talented and I respected almost all of them - but I don't ever
remember begin conscious of their personal work.

When I work with my students, I try to channel some of the teachers I had
that really made an impression on me - or at least remember how they managed
to reach me (I was not an easy student to reach).

But - as for myself today - I do not really feel like an ARTIST. I do not
create much, I have nothing to SHOW, or SELL - but sometimes, I have that
spark - and it feels so right, when I see something in my minds eye - and
then I do create something - and then I tweak it here and there, and make it
a bit better... and then I step back and see that there is something where
there was nothing just a few moments before. It does feel good.

The best thing teaching has done for my (and MY art) is that it has forced
me to move out side of my comfort zone and learn to work with other media
(medium). Which has opened many doors for me. As I was growing up - it was
all (and only) life drawing and painting - I did it, I did it some more, I
got good at it, I worked hard, I got better at it... then in college I hit
some kind of wall, and it never occurred to me to do anything other than
paint. In my mind - that's what was art, nothing else was (is), and if I
wasn't going to do that - I shouldn't do anything - so I didn't. I walked
away.

fast forward 3 careers later and to today, I throw clay, I sculpt, I weave,
I do batik, some water colors - pen and ink - some life drawing, a little
beading and jewelry work, I knit somewhat compulsively... I doodle
endlessly, I can hand letter, draw in 3 point perspective - and make salt
dough (and gak!) and to top it off I am also wizard of Photoshop... which
really impresses the big kids. But what I am most proud of, is that when my
students come into my classroom, they are not afraid to try new things, they
love getting messy, and practically anyone can have a success in my
class - - now that's creative energy!

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