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RE: our lives (jobs) and art


From: Martha Ulakovits (MSQU_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat May 04 2002 - 05:58:59 PDT

When I read this, it was as if I had written it. These were my thoughts only
I don't really know if you can do both. Since I have taught elementary art
for 15 years, I can't speak for middle or high school art teachers. At first
I thought it would be easier for them to continue to work as artists because
their work at school is closer to their work at home. In elementary art, we
are introducing so much to so many grade levels. Sure the theory is the
same, but in the upper grades it appears to narrow down. Instead of panning
for six different grade levels, you might plan for three. Instead of
teaching introduction to all sorts of media, you are using maybe five or
six. Now before anyone starts talking about who works harder, let me just
say, that's not what I mean. Being a workaholic is a character trait that
one takes with them to what ever level that teach. What I mean is that I
thought in elementary, our energy is spread between so many areas. For want
of a better word, we don't specialize. For my type personality, it hasn't
helped me to focus when I'm off work. There were always so many new things
to learn, new products, etc. I have continued to work as an artist, but it's
really been lame, unfocused, do it when I can, forced. But there is another
element to this. Like previously mentioned. Some of us are consumed by our
job at school or our vocation as teachers. I know I was for years. I has
taken a lot of hard work to try and break loose. I am in the process of
making the transition from teacher back to artist. In this process, I am
finding I have to make choices. I have to choose not to attend certain
conferences and meeting about art education and redirect my time and
attention to being a professional artist. I have to choose not to read
certain art ed material and redirect that time to reading professional art
materials. Even the time spent on art ed listservs had to be redirected to
artists listservs. I attend less student shows and more art galleries and
shows. There is only so much time and so much energy. You never really
realize how much you are consumed by something until you try to break those
ties. Even as I clean and pack up my art room for the last time, I have to
choose what materials to keep. I have limited space. To those that say you
can do both, well maybe, but how much better would you be at either if you
weren't making those choices. How can you paint all night because you are on
a roll or attend an event that would enrich you artistically when you are
thinking about the alarm clock going off in the morning and what you must
prepare for. At the same time, I don't think art teachers every really cut
off the artist within even though they are not showing. Their artistry
displays itself in other (maybe less satisfying) ways.
Martha Ulakovits

Subject: Re: I'd love you to share......
From: Esa Tipton <>
Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 01:27:37 -0700 (PDT)
X-Message-Number: 1

I would like to add to Michelle's excellent comments
that the guilt we feel is the separation between our
lives and our "art" - whatever form it takes. It's
especially true more and more with increasing
expectations of the classroom teacher to meet
district, state, federal and accredidational
standards. We feel guilt over the way in which our
lives become consumed by the detail of everyday
existence, especially that of the full-time art
teacher providing production-belt style art lessons in
schools. Overworking keeps us from experiencing the
arts in ourselves or spending more time being enriched
by the arts of others in our communities.

We become consumed and lose sight of our own process,
that which gives us joy and feeds our soul. Guilt
should be a motivator to get back in touch with the
part of ourselves we abandoned with justified neglect.
To engage with the dialogue within and not just model
and show it to others what it's potentiality may give
- that is the real challenge of an art teacher,
because we know how much it can give and then fail to
give it to ourselves.