Becoming an artist is a life-long journey, one that requires deep investigation and commitment. Like a cross country road trip, there will be many obstacles along the way. In order to engage in an artistic journey with students, an art educator must be a practicing artist. Each role supports the other. Each artist’s unique path begins with questions. Socrates is credited for saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I ask questions that encourage students to examine their lives in order to discover their artistic journey.
Artists’ journeys consist of learning technical skills through hands-on material and tool experiences. As an artist and educator, I share my love of material and technique with my students. Technical skill paired with questions serves as a foundation and springboard for idea manifestation. When students combine skill with idea, they are able to create artwork that is well-crafted and conceptual. Students’ ability to make skillful and considered work gives them agency to take possession of their artwork and education. As the students’ ownership of their art increases, I become the individually-driven students’ guide and mentor.
Artists are guided on their mission with the help of a sounding board. I create community within the classroom as facilitator of collective sharing of experiences, reflections, and realizations from daily life. In our safe class community, students are free to offer their ideas in class dialogue and critique for the benefit of the collective. Art is about communication and engagement with our society and world. While I remain the leader, my classroom is an environment where open dialogue is encouraged to practice communication without fear.
As an artist and educator, I join my students on their journey to becoming life-long learners. I bring my insights to the table and lead by example. I listen to my students carefully to guide, mentor, and prepare them as best as I can for their unique path. As an art educator, my desire is to help my students develop discipline, self-sufficiency, inquiry, and discovery. My ultimate calling, to encourage students to become artists whose agency produces distinctive work that stimulates diverse thought and contribution to our society at large.