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.