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RE: Amanda on Amanda's Artwork


From: Hillmer, Jan (hillmjan_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Mar 14 2004 - 16:16:11 PST

Wow - Amanda, thank you for sharing /baring your soul. Your sharing helps me to consider my art as well as my students" art - where and how (and if) it comes to us. This list is so great - so many ideas to think about. How much good stuff we end upsharing with our students. Thank you, Amanda.

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Amanda Linn []
        Sent: Sun 3/14/2004 4:17 PM
        To: ArtsEdNet Talk
        Subject: Amanda on Amanda's Artwork

        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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