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Re:Teacher-Artist or Art teacher?

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From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Mar 06 2001 - 07:10:10 PST


Anyhow, are we Teacher-Artists or "only" Art teachers?
X Jane in Brooklyn

Having eyes to see, and realizing a whole world exists that the aesthetically dead do not see...and an ever pervasive sense of mission. Valuing the privilege to have such eyes, burdened with a sense of responsibility of owing something to the world...owing something to yourself. Realizing that tha vast majority exist in a spiritual vacuum, lacking real meaning and purpose....and that the privilege of making art yields a heart that routinely knows joy, a pulse of
life, that becomes in essence a vehicle to celebrate. Making art is a life long celebration.

Now...one does not have to be an artist to be an art teacher, but I worry to consider that art teachers might not at least understand something of the benefits that making art does. Sure...we are not in public education to crank out artists...but we do bridge that gap to help others understand artists, and therefore foster art appreciation. As to the classification of whether one is an artist teaching, or a non-artist teaching...how many works does one have to put
out to be an artist "officially?" Do these works have to be for sale?....does a successful track record of sales make one a better artist? Does having eyes to see, and the occasion to celebrate thru the vehicle of making art make one an artist?

I made a great deal of art before coming back into the classroom. I still make as much art as time permits me. I yet have eyes that see, and yet find the joy to celebrates living. Does my ability and professionalism prior to the classroom now find cancelation and disqualification due to a lesser volume of production?

All life is about finding balance, and I think the problem is we have let the business production capitalist world define the artist. In reality, I would hope all here to know being an artist is so so much more! What I have to give my students is more than assignments. I model and demonstrate a person that breathes and rejoices in a dimension few know of. From the pores of my being come a sense that something bigger and greater than I exists, and that having
passion is vital, that celebration makes the difference between mere existence and a sense of mission/purpose.

I must make art. Not because I must sell. It is because having eyes to see, I do not find words adequate to describe. Mentoring such, I underscore and highlight the value art has to students. It becomes contagious.

I personally don't understand how a rational person could understand the benefits of art making as I'm speaking and refrain from it. Like ignoring a cool glass of water in a desert? Wouldn't make sense. It tells me such a person doesn't really understand that which the artist understands intimately, passionately. On the other hand....if a person has another passion that likewise formulates a vehicle to express celebration, ignoring art making is understandable. I
would submit that art teachers that do not make art, but do have a sense of passion, joy...and celebration in their life have found another vehicle of expression. It might be engaging in an active sports life, who knows, perhaps music...something, perhaps teaching itself. Now...therefore, it is not so much not having time to make art the art teacher must face, but eliminating other things in life that have taken greater priority. I manage to teach K-12 art....and
maintain several online art sites, a mentoring site....and put out an occasional work. I had two sales this past work online. I am working on two entrees for the national Arts for the Parks competition. It requires however, that I live an artist's life, and I have to discipline and priortize my life out of the classroom. Little time for television. Little time for nightclubs, bars...for social gatherings.

On top of that...I am a musician. I played out this past weekend. I travel to the state of Georgia this up and coming June to record a CD. Heh...I'm not superman, and my students are not suffering good instruction as some might suspect. But...it requires all of my life to be set in order and in motion.

If an art teacher is a non-artist, all well and good...but I hope the teacher understands the good that the passion and the celebration of making art does for a person- and is an ambassador of such, yet kids may ask why the teacher is not making art being aware of such things? Kids deserve to know the good tht comes of art making without such understanding being tainted. At least be prepared to explain the complexities of balancing life, and that you find joy,
meaning, and purpose in other things. Perhaps that comes from teaching alone! That is awesome!

Larry Seiler
http://www.artsmentor.org

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