Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I could take a lesson or two from my students

There are days that I know I will always remember for the events or moments that struck me as vital to my existence. Today is one of them. I had an "aah haa" moment. One of my students who is extremely talented, but normally can be very rude or difficult, came in to ask me a question at lunch. Remember, I teach 9th graders, Freshman, who most would rather chew their arm off than give up their lunch time (aka social opportunity). She came to ask me to look at her drawing of a face and give her some pointers because she just couldn't get it right. She is known to draw in the anime style where figures are very disproportional due to large heads and small bodies. She was trying to draw one realistically and was doing a nice job, but features were a bit too low on the face so she was frustrated. This request took me completely by surprise because not only was she asking for help, but she was doing it politely and seriously. This is a talented girl who doesn't always follow the rules. She is usually bored because she is so smart and intuitive, but she is rude, argumentative, and sarcastic. I like her! She drives me nuts at times with her stubborn opposition, but I see this spark of creativity in her that is unleashed and passionate. She is on her 2nd Visual Journal this year with her first being so fat that it won't close. Back to the story... I was floored that she would ask me for assistance in drawing. In comes the "aah haa"... She likes me.. she really likes me. I have her respect. How did that happen???? I admire her courage and spontaneity in her exploration of materials and fresh creation. She has an innate sense of style and design. She layers materials in a way that looks haphazard, but it works. I'd hate to ruin that. Sometimes I think I would've been less fearful of failure in my art if I hadn't listened to some of those snotty professors that insisted I do it the "right" way. I would have created with wild abandon! There are times I feel bound by rules and what's "good" art... So, this cocky Freshman girl taught me that I don't have to be in control all the time, sometimes it's best to let them play and not try to make them all do it my way. I am finding that I enjoy the everyday surprises that these kids offer. They do things differently sometimes... Those are the best times. It's when they whine that they "don't get it" or "what do I do now?" or "can't you just do it for me?" that I cringe. Not because it's annoying, but because it means they are trying to please me or are scared to try, or rather, fail. The joy of just doing is squashed by our school system's need to create good test takers, good book learners, good rule followers. Really what we need are rule breakers that take chances and try new things, not for the destructive properties, but for the fun of it! I learned that I need to just play and ask for help when needed, but always trust my gut. I hope no one breaks her spirit and makes her follow the "rules" of art because I have a feeling that she is going to make her own "rules".
Here are some of her journal entries:

Sunday, April 8, 2007

About ME

I suppose I should give a little background on myself. I am from Central New York. NO, not New York City. Everyone who is not from NY thinks that when you say you "are from NY", that means you are from NYC. Not True! There are so many gorgeous towns and cities in upstate NY that those "downstaters" are missing out! They may have world renowned art museums, theater, financial district, fashion and great restaurants, but they also have horrendous traffic, dirty streets, rude people, loud sirens all the time, crime, and rats, cockroaches the size of small cats. No thank you! I love the suburbs! I was born and raised here in Syracuse and LOVE it. I far prefer to be close to the action without all the noise, smells, and traffic to go along with it. I can choose when I go.
I teach 9th grade Studio in Art at Liverpool High School Annex. I live about 5 miles from the school so I see the kids all the time in my neighborhood. I love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else as a career. It is highly rewarding to see a kid's progress in their skills from the beginning of the year to the end. I teach a bit of everything from drawing to ceramics. It's never boring and this age group has plenty of drama!
I am a mommy to a very energetic and lovable 2 1/2 year old. He is the sunshine of my life. My husband is a crazy Type-A personality which is polar opposite of mine. He is a saver, where I am a spender. He is analytical, number smart, and I swear he has OCD! I am emotional, collector of everything, and a creative problem solver. We get on each other's nerves, but make a pretty good team!
My scrap style is usually pretty simple, but I like to try new things and am constantly shopping for fun embellishments, much to my husband's annoyance. I love ribbon, distressed papers, stamps, chipboard, and rub ons! I am just starting to play around with digital elements that create hybrid pages, like printing my own transparencies, titles, photos on various materials, and borders.
Thanks for reading!

Importance of the Arts in today's workforce

This is my first post in my blog. As an artist and art educator, I want to make a difference in my student's creating process and observation skills. I feel it's of extreme importance to learn to "SEE" the world around you. If you walk through life just going about your daily routine and not notice details, you risk missing out on experiences and knowledge about life. It may seem that not all details are important, but in order to be a complete person, you need to be able to take in all details or seek out what makes things work. Our world is changing from an industrial, analytical world to one that puts much emphasis on concepts and meaning. In other words, companies and economic success is dependent on people who can think outside the box and be creative! (according to Daniel Pink of "A Whole New Mind") YAY! The computer age is here and with that, an increase in outsourcing and automating boring , routine, numerical data leaving room for artistic explosion of creative solutions to old products. Now, I don't proclaim to be a genius in this department, but I was so inspired by a speech given at our National Art Education Association's National convention in NYC a couple weeks ago from Daniel Pink. He wrote numerous articles for Wired magazine and other business mags. He has traveled the world discussing this topic. I was impressed! He was funny, witty, and gave very good examples to back up his views. It made sense to me and my fellow colleagues. I would love to have him come to my district and speak to them about the importance of art education in our students futures. So, in conclusion, Got Art?