Thursday, March 29, 2012


I hosted a March Break Art Camp this year at my studio, and it was a really great experience for me and the students that participated. I think that everyone who came had a good time and learned some pretty cool things about some pretty cool artists throughout the week.

One of the things I love about teaching art is that I get just as excited about what the kids create as they do! Watching their smiles and engagement in their creating is so amazing, it keeps me motivated to do what I do.

I think that through creating we can fuel that part of us that connects our minds and bodies to one another and that there is nothing else quite like it.  Through the catalyst of creativity, our imagination opens up, and thoughts and feelings that perhaps lay dorment are let out through art making.  It is really something spectacular to watch with kids, they have so much to get out!  Awesome.      

So, here are some of the wonderful things my students created over the March Break. I am sure the influences from the great artists that we learned about are recognizable.   :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New York City - A Change in Perspective

On Monday, I returned home from New York City after attending the 2012 National Art Education Association Convention for four days.  I was fortunate enough to be a participant in many of the amazing presentations by art educators from around the globe and also got to be a presenter myself at the conference as well. Right on.


From the great experiences I had over the four days (including an awesome Saturday night in Greenwich Village - the vibe there is almost unexplainable, so warm and jovial!) and the knowledge I gained from the conference, I came home with a few particular learnings that I will take with me on my journey from now on as a teacher.

Specifically, I had the pleasure of listening to Chuck Close talk about his experiences as a burgeoning artist, struggling through art school and trying to formulate himself as an individual in the art world. He said "Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work."

Chuck Close "Lucas" 1986-87 

Chuck's quote made me think about how many times I have wasted time in my life looking for the perfect moment, opportunity or circumstance to begin something I needed or wanted to do.  I have decided that now, I am just going to 'get to work', do it, and go with what comes of it! I believe this is also sound advice for my students. I want to encourage them to be able to forego excuses and just seize the moment for creating. I believe this has the potential to lead to very successful and rich experiences for them. A way to pave the road to the unexpected.

I also learned from a session that I attended that "Art education is a way to acknowledge the self, outside the self" and that "meanings in life are made through the interactions we have with others."

While I believe that art is a way for us to step outside ourselves and view things from a perspective we wouldn't have done so otherwise, I also think this kind of learning is not limited specifically to art education. There is a lesson in this idea that every educator can benefit from.

Fostering experiences through and with art, partnered with other academic subjects can create a vantage point that adds to the perspective we as teachers initially provide for our students around something.  A component in which they can bring their own understanding and connection to an idea that we cannot give them. This is fundamental in all knowledge isn't it? Make it relative to us in a way that is meaningful.......and why not do it using art?

Furthermore, in terms of the meanings that can be created through our interactions with others, this was something I already did, I just never really thought about how important it was until now.   Through my own experiences and the opportunities I give my students to collaborate with one another, quite often it leads to a richness of learning that is not privy to individual experience.  As a way to facilitate dialogue or discussion and deep thinking about things, interactions are simply pivotal.

I look back on my time at NAEA 2012 and am very grateful for my opportunity to be a part of it.  I am thankful that I was able to engage in interactions with others and gain new perspectives in my life by acknowledging who I am and what I do, outside of myself.

Among many other things, this experience has motivated me to stop looking for inspiration (that may or may not come) but to just 'show up' and get 'er done each and every day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Identity and Learning

I assume that everyone’s life story isn’t complete without a perceptual saga to carry around to shape us as a beings.
Lately, I have been delving deep into my memories and developing associated meanings around the significant experiences I have had in my life. 
This process has made me realize that I have not fully acknowledged certain events in my life and by not doing so, I have been living a life that has been personally filtered by my own discretions (in that I let myself come to terms with only the things I consciously want to come to terms with).  Thus, I have potentially created a superficial lens through which I view the world at times.
Thinking of this revelation in terms of what it means for me as a teacher, I believe it means that it is important for me to understand this happenstance in the context of my students' lives.  Maybe they at times, don't acknowledge certain experiences (or lack thereof) in their life which  inherently guide the choices they make when it comes to their learning.  Conversely, perhaps they bring a perspective of themselves into the classroom that is a result of over-acknowledging experiences.   
It seems that this can be quite complicated, but overall, I think it is important for my students to be in tune with who they are, how they interact with others, and how they learn as a result of all of their experiences throughout life.   It is important for me to provide opportunities for them to be both reflective and accountable as learners in the classroom but also to let them know that the person they are, created through the good, the bad and the ugly happenings in life, is just the person they are suppose to be.