As an artist educator, I strive to ignite a creative spark in each of my students. Emphasis is put on strengthening one’s visual literacy and the development of a personal visual language as a means of communication. Students gain insight and hands on experience with art’s effects on cognitive, personal, and social development within the individual and throughout humanity. Through the use of sketchbooks and other various media, I aim to foster a lifelong appreciation for the arts, as well as the skills and confidence to solve problems creatively, both inside and outside of the studio.
As an artist educator, I consistently seek opportunities to further my understanding. Through my Masters of Fine Arts coursework and a steady studio practice I hone my art-making expertise and widen my breadth of media knowledge. With this deep understanding of both past and contemporary art movements I am able to expose my students to a broad spectrum of art techniques and concepts. To expand upon my pedagogy I question and revise my own practices and stay current in the field of art education.
Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is fundamental to my teaching philosophy. Like Gardner, I hold the understanding that every person possesses various strengths and forms of intelligence. After a 10-year journey in the field of art education, I have arrived at a model that best encompases Gardner’s theory, choice-based art education. In a choice-based studio, the student’s needs and artistic goals are the driving force behind instruction. Creative choice, coupled with responsive teaching, result in an authentic studio practice. This structure naturally promotes differentiation of the curriculum. I am able to meet each student where they are and guide them toward success.
In my student centered learning environment, I honor tradition, craft, and technique, while emphasizing the importance of process and its relationship to product. Students are encouraged to make mistakes, experiment, play, take risks, cultivate open-mindedness, and recognize problems both formal and conceptual. These studio habits are critical to growth and innovation and promote 21st century skill development.
Through art-making students learn about high expectations, discipline, craftsmanship, goal setting, and how to cultivate a positive work ethic. The art studio is a place where students gain new perspectives and a greater appreciation of their surroundings. Through prompts, mentoring, demonstrations, and the sharing of ideas, students discover their unique voice. They gain the skills necessary to communicate their interests, views, and concerns through visual language.
Reflection is also emphasized in my teaching practice. Each semester I ask students “What makes you an artist both inside and outside of the studio?” One response by Anna Doughty (3rd Grade) eloquently summarizes her relationship with art, and touches upon many of the same reasons I practice art-making myself. She writes, “I am an artist because…I let music be my stencil for art. I like making art when I’m stressed. I love using art to keep my hands busy, because I’m creative. Art flows through my body and my veins. Art strengthens my bones.”
In my teaching practice I aspire to create strong, lasting relationships and a community where students feel safe, challenged, and cared for. I impress upon my students the importance of social responsibility and I guide them toward the development of their whole selves. Not everyone will become a professional artist, but everyone can benefit from a true understanding and appreciation for art and the creative process. As an artist educator, my goal is to build a community of student artists who can think outside of the box, take risks, and who are not afraid to fail and get back up and try again.