Why the heck I do what I do and make what I make.

The work of being an artist and the work of teaching art, is impeccably intertwined to me. I create to learn about myself, and to teach others when I can. I can’t teach a successful art class without first engaging in the medium and ideas myself. I create about things I care about. Food, animals, and people I know. I create figurative and illustrative art. I create and tell stories through my work, even when I don’t intend to. Looking back at my childhood, the best and most detailed memories I have of school involve being taught through various art forms. I remember the states because of the state song. I remember the butterfly life cycle because I got to raise them and make both a model of one of the stages and a puffy paint shirt illustrating the life cycle, and I remember facts about the Paleolithic Era because of helping a friend write and record a song about it for her history class, a class I wasn’t even in.

I create art about food because everyone connects to it in some way. Even if it is food they have never seen before, every human is tied to it, because we all have to eat to live. We all rely so heavily on the earth’s ability to care for us. In order to get someone else to care about something, you, yourself have to care about it. Kids are attuned to whether people in their life care about what they’re doing and that’s why if you don’t care as a teacher, they won’t either. I care about my work because otherwise no one else will. I come into a classroom as an ambassador of my art forms. Even if the kids are already receiving arts education, the integration is something they will be compelled by the arts to remember.

Art allows me to engage with kids as humans, as well as students. I have to model being an advocate of my students and their voices. I am always striving to make my art count in the larger world. I am working on creating art as related to food sustainability and the environment. I want my students to know that other people are looking out for the world and that things don’t have to be as dire as they seem, while still being realistic about our changing world. Visual arts ask kids to look deeper, observe facial expressions in figurative art, and the way that color and shape makes them feel in abstract art. I strive to make art that builds communities and connections between people. Inviting rather than requiring a student to participate in new things is more likely to get them engaged and open them up to the idea of being a part of new things. I am forced to remember that art is both natural and unnatural in our world, and that the skills I have in rendering what I want to see on the page have come from a lot of practice.

Having honesty in this world is severely underrated, but in my practice as both an artist and teaching artist I want these two concepts to define me and who I am . I want to be honest with my students, and if I lose the ability to be a hopeful person I will never be able to do that. I need to remember that being honest is more than just not lying, but is actively telling the truth. It means calling out injustice and making my students aware of the ways in which the world is dishonest with them. It means not glossing over difficult subjects, even if that’s the easy thing to do. It also means giving them hope. Hope that is not passive, but active. One that reaches out to help, hold, and protect. I aim to do that with the work I create this semester with my students and on my own.

#text #art #teachingart #whyIdowhatIdo #teachingartistry #visualart #livewhatyoulove #teaching

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