Throughout my artistic career I have really been inspired by my personal experiences and memories. My art teachers in high school always did a great job encouraging everyones different styles + interests. I felt I had a really great space to put my identity and experiences into my work--as a form of communication, therapy, and self-exploration. I think grade and middle school were more frustrating because teachers often reach for themed projects that are overly guided and give little choice to the student. This only stunts the creative process + ability to formulate original ideas.
The Colorado Academic Standards handbook, build by the Colorado Department of Education, contains an excerpt describing the importance of making projects personal and pertinent:
"The importance of students’ personal stories and individual expression in art making are influenced by one’s environment and communities and are reinforced in the visual art standards. References to
“multiple cultures” in the standards prompt inquiry about one’s own influences and learning about
various perspectives. Students reflect on the purposes of their own art, that of classmates, and connect their work to art history or contemporary sources. Participation in the visual arts provides agency for student artists to influence the community and transform the world around them" (Colorado Department of Education).
The knowledge I have gained in my Art Education Concepts class and studying of the state standards in my Art Education Studio only strengthens my opinion of the importance of allowing students a great amount of freedom in their project interpretations. It was one thing to experience what it feels like to create something very personal as a student; it's therapeutic, more meaningful, and easy to become very engulfed and zoned-in to the creation process. Then, to be reassured in my education classes the importance of individuality + choice in art. Not only does it make the creation process more enjoyable, but also has a positive affect on child development and the personal growth of the student in terms of creating and building their identity at that age.
Edutopia posted a great article about the many benefits of the arts in education, with this one sticking out to me:
"While many find the value of arts education to be the ways in which it impacts student learning, I feel the learning of art is itself a worthwhile endeavor. A culture without art isn’t possible. Art is at the very core of our identity as humans. I feel that the greatest gift we can give students -- and humanity -- is an understanding, appreciation, and ability to create art"(Neil Swapp).
Creating personal projects in my future classroom will be very beneficial in the comfort, growth, and empathy in our classroom environment. As students are finding themselves in this very transformative period, they will also be learning to embrace, learn, explore, and accept the identities of their peers + those they will encounter in the future. In creating personal projects--everyone benefits and my students will be growing into brilliant, compassionate, and empathetic leaders and shakers of the world.
My art piece this week is representative of my "personal + pertinent" teaching philosophy. It is important for my students to know that I, as the instructor, have tried the project. If you I am assigning them to do something--wouldn't it be a project I've done that I enjoyed or thought we be something great for others to learn and experience? I fully believe any project that I teach, I am required to try first to see if it would be successful and engaging. In this project I am also attaching the narrative behind my piece--which would be an emotional connection moment with my students. I was a high schooler at one time, and I was also the new kid!
For my weaving (continued exploration of a new material to challenge myself), I created one of my first memories in Colorado. As a freshman, experiencing a brand new school I was incredibly nervous to make friends. I moved to Fort Collins the summer before my freshman year, so I knew nobody. When I went on my school tour, I spoke with the band director Dan Berard. He connected with me about my interest in music and encouraged me to sign up for marching band + concert band. This provided me with one of the best opportunities to meet people and make friends. As I began to get to know my peers + produce amazing music as a collective group, we had more opportunities together as we grew closer. That summer I conquered my first Colorado hike at the Horsetooth Rock trail. Every time I see Horsetooth Rock, I am reminded of this great bonding experience. I would love to use this piece as an introduction to my students to help connect with them and give a little insight into my own practice, and what I will encourage in our class as far as creating projects that are personal + pertinent!
The orange yarn used is characteristic of the clay-heavy soil coloring much of Colorado's soil and rock a brilliant rusty orange. The purple yarn adds dimension to the landscape, while also depicting the temperature drop in the shade of Colorado summers. The fringe is representative of the tall grasses native to Colorado. At the culmination of the hike, we reached the top of the rock right at sunrise experiencing a brilliant Colorado sunrise full of bright oranges and floating yellow beams of light emanating from the sun (also depicted in the weaving).
Colorado Department of Education. (2020). Colorado Academic Standards: Visual
Arts. Retrieved from https://www.cde.state.co.us/coarts/2020cas-va-p12
Swapp, N. (2016, October 4). Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts
Education. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/creativity-
For more details + documentation of my artworks created to accompany these blog posts, visit my instagram!