Thanks to Karalee for including my work on her site.
It really is a nice site- I hope more teachers take
the opportunity to send her art to post. All the
positive emails I have received are appreciated.
I think sharing my journey to these works might be
interesting and timely given some of the recent
discussions on the Getty and the ArtsEducators lists-
read on if you are interested.
Right out of college I was teaching full time and
doing at least 1 solo show a year, plus participating
in a lot of group shows and donating work to charity
auctions. I sold a lot of work- which was a treat to
have extra money given the salary of a beginning
teacher. My plan was to teach a few years then go back
and get an MFA. The longer I taught I started to
question why I was having my students go through the
motions of art lessons- I realized that the art I was
having my students make was not "about" much. During
my quest to develop learning strategies that would
help my students create artwork that was "about"
something, I realized that my art wasn't about much-
the more I asked for from them, I more guilt I felt
for not asking for more from myself. So I stopped
making art. My non-art friends would say "Just start
drawing stuff"...they meant well, but I couldn't do
it. For 7 years I didn't make anything- I concentrated
on teaching, I got a Master's Degree in Educational
Leadership. All the time I wanted to make art but
everytime I would start, I would hate what I was
making and quit again. After I spent 18 months with
non-art people in the Educational Leadership program,
I was so miserable I knew I had to do something. I've
always enjoyed bizzare, freakish tales. I started
collecting things from the newspapers. My logic was,
If I couldn't find some personal content- I would let
someone else give me some thing to make art "about".
That's what you see today. Now I am working with
newspaper stories as well as the childhood stories of
my friends. Recently when I showed this work to people
for the first time, I was scared to death- an emotion
I never experienced when I was showing work before.
This fear made me realize what my students must feel
like when I insist they put their work on display when
they don't feel confident about what they have
created. I also have much more sympathy for students
that have creative blocks. Sometimes I think it is
ridiculous the way we present lessons- "Here is the
idea, I want to see your sketches tomorrow, then
everyone should be working by Friday and the work is
due next Thursday". It took me seven years to get the
So that's that. For now I am a happy artist AND a
pretty happy teacher. I struggle every day- wondering
if I am doing what is right for my students. I watch
them stuggle to make art that is about something.
Sometimes I think I will make it easier on both of us-
and when I do, I can immediately tell the difference
in the quality of my teaching and their work.
The long answer to Judy's question- no, I haven't used
this as a lesson- I think the lesson was for me :)
When most women were eating matchstick thin slices of carrots- my mother was eating matchsticks- Augusten Burroughs
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