Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Finding Time to Explore a Familiar Source of Inspiration

Being an art teacher is sort of like working in an ice cream shop.  You quickly lose the desire for your favourite treat!  After spending all day working with the students and helping them sort out their ideas and artistic issues, the last thing you want to do is go home and start working on your own.

Discussions about this at the Artist Teacher Workshop made me realise that the students and I would both benefit from me making art in school.  I could take on a role of residential artist and work even in the classroom at times when the students were busy completing their projects.  Some non-teaching periods could be allocated for my own studio work or even studio evenings could be scheduled where I would work along side the students.  This would be an active step that I could initiate in order to make more of my own art.  Making more art and allowing the students to experience the process of an artist creating seems like a good idea.

I thoroughly enjoy brainstorming with engaged students; trying to figure out new ways of solving their artistic dilemmas and helping them when they are struggling to come up with ways of developing their own work further.  In my mind, they initiate sparks of fresh thoughts and trigger all kinds of exciting ideas that I can picture ever so clearly.  The work is created in my mind and ready to then be developed even further.  Then once it is out there ready for the taking, the bell rings and the students is rushing off to face a whole new set of obstacles that some other teacher must shed light onto.  I have often thought how tragic it is that these ideas seldom get explored or even considered.

Exploring the notion of making art in school then led me to contemplating the fact that I exert so much of my creative energy into potential art pieces for the students, which may simply be ignored.  This brought me to the conclusion of embracing those ideas and setting out to create the work myself.  Why not?  While I am at it, why not try to meet the students deadlines as well?  Why shouldn't I present work during their scheduled critiques?  Why not try to keep up a sketchbook with the ideas generated during discussions with students?

This seems to give some new purpose to teaching a subject that can feel so draining at times.  I am exploring the thought of accepting the collaborative work with the students as a source of inspiration for a new body of work.   I have just started to put this plan into effect.  So far the first piece made started with discussions I had with a grade ten student who wished to create some eerie image of some person or creature.  The keep a long story short, the result was him wearing a mask, that was still around the art room after being made years ago, while standing in the dark sink room holding a desk lamp toward his face during which time I snapped some photos at different angles and distances.  We looked at the shots and decided that some definitely had potential.  So I asked him if he would mind me also creating a piece from the photos.

Here is my first piece, "Boy in Mask":

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