Journal Entry #2
Throughout my life I have grown in different ways as an artist. The exploration of my identity has played a large role as I began to establish my love for creating art. I found in studying artistic development how many children begin in about the same place. As studied and theorized by Rhoda Kellogg: it begins with scribbling, then shape forming, putting shapes together--meaning starts to derive from the simplest of symbols. Viktor Lowenfeld, a professor of art education at the Pennsylvania State University, said that there is a universal language in the way children grow and learn to create. Children move naturally through these stages as they mature, and the teacher (& parent) must provide time & materials for children to explore. Development also depends on the environment and adult support or instruction. As a child I loved drawing, and I always enjoyed the attention I received when I made something “good”. One of my earliest, most exciting memories was my friends asking to draw my infamous, super tall, greatly adorned Christmas trees. I LOVED how much they loved my art. But I also faced times of confusion when my classmates DIDN’T like my art. When drawing self portraits I always included a “<” mark in blue, smack in the middle of my eyes where a vein (thanks to my pale complexion) was always visible. I was criticized and questioned, “Why would you do that? That looks dumb, did you just draw on your face with marker?”. But at that age, how else was I supposed to differentiate my personal identity beyond being a little blonde, blue-eyed girl? I had to find those little quirks that made me different, so that my teachers knew that was ME; that is MY art. I think at this age, we are so vulnerable and fresh to the world. We have so much yet to learn and thirst for knowledge to make ourselves known and unique. With that, we already begin to face the expectations of “what art looks like”. Teachers may ask, “Oh, are you drawing a cat?”--when in fact you were drawing a horse, but you just COULD NOT figure it out yet. But to you, it was the most accurate representation of a horse you could have ever imagined. To think that your teacher could not clearly see it was a horse, was just purely preposterous. Words influence confidence so much--and it is really vital to consider how we discuss creative development with children. Art making is a very vulnerable, personal thing. Providing materials and experiences, encouragement, and just saying the right things is so vital.
As I grew older, I became obsessed with the idea of proving people wrong. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be this amazing artist that I set out to be since I was a child. I wanted to show I could do anything, and do it perfectly. I once heard in high school that creating an accurate self portrait was one of the most difficult things an artist could achieve--so I set out to do just that. Another student said, “Nobody can draw feet. Nobody is good at drawing feet” so I set out to prove her wrong. I attempted to draw glass, without any prior knowledge of how to draw glass and failed drastically; so I set out to research, retry, practice, and perfect. There was this ridiculous obsession and hunger to do something RIGHT, and I know I am not the only person who has ever experienced that. So many people say, “I am not good at art” and I know they are only telling me that because once upon a time somebody in their life told them... "you are doing it wrong". Once I went to college, I finally realized there is no right way to make art, and there is absolutely no wrong way to make art. I wish I could go tell anyone that ever was told they could not make art that there is no such thing. Anybody can make art; and anybody can be an artist.
It was in college that I started from a clean slate and began exploring medium after medium, rapidly jumping forward from studio to studio. I was eager to learn as much as I could about *everything* so that I could teach my students anything they needed to know in the future. I fell in love with art as a whole: art as a practice, art as a pastime, art as a mode to connect with the world, art as a way to connect with yourself, and art as a way to connect with people. In studying the ways to educate others about art, I fell even more in love with the process and what it does to people. In my experience teaching special ability students, I was flooded with fresh insight. Through my life I had often drifted away from just “having fun” and experimenting because I was so obsessed with making my work perfect. I realized the only thing that makes your art worth anything is that it means something to you. Process is so vital in enjoying your work; it makes it memorable and meaningful, purposeful and pertinent. If you are stressed about making it perfect the entire time, you are going to be incredibly stressed. Currently, I have been focusing on finding what I am passionate about beyond traditional content. At this point in time, I am creating statement work about topics that affect me everyday or topics I want to inform the public about, and I am just enjoying the process.
As I look toward the future, I want my students to know that being an artist is a vulnerable, exciting, frustrating, and an amazing experience. It can be simple; it can be complex. Most importantly it is about how you choose to interact with the idea of art, how you choose to use your discoveries, and how the process is always about experimentation and growth. You are constantly growing and learning new things, no matter how old you are. I am twenty-two and still feel I have so much to learn and so much to show the world. I believe over anything it is vital to reflect on your growth, remember and discover what makes you passionate, and keep trucking forward with the drive that got you started.
Through the time-lapse linked below, I have depicted the growth of my creative process from my earliest memories to the present. These accounts include: drawing Christmas trees for my classmates in preschool, earliest representation of the self in preschool, obsession with self-portraiture in high school, still-life and figure studies in college, exploration of pottery practices in college, exploration of sculptural practices in college, exploration of photographic film processes in college, exploration of graphic design in college, and experiential teaching practices through volunteer teaching Artistic Abilities, in college.
Click HERE for time-lapse video
January 27, 2020
This week I was given the prompt to reflect on the learning and teaching perspectives from my past, how they stand in the present, and potential applications for the future. In analyzing individual teaching styles, it is imperative that we ponder and attempt to verbalize a set of key teaching philosophies. The topics and characteristics I find important for a classroom should be integrated into my practice and future classes--so understanding what those might be and how I would like to implement them is important to my growth as an educator.
My teaching and learning perspectives in the past were pretty rigid and simple. The only knowledge of teaching I had was from what I experienced in class each day. There was a specific way for tasks to be taught, learned, and completed. It seemed very cookie-cutter, and certainly not differentiated at all. Particularly in my math class I was only allowed to solve algebraic equations one way, even though mathematics has the flexibility to solve equations in a multiplicity of approaches that can all reach the same answer. It was frustrating to not feel like an individual student, but rather just a cog in the whole machine. I believe what I experienced was meant to simplify learning, making it more straightforward, but rather complicated the process and lacked inclusion of all types of learners. My art classes were always enjoyable--never had a "bad" teacher. I valued the class environment and flexibility in interpretation. My creative courses, art and music, were the only courses that I felt truly valued the individual student. My use of a simplistic, common interpretation of a flower signifies my struggle to branch out of the rigid guidelines I experienced in school. Even though I enjoyed the content and felt I succeeded in the arts, where tasks were differentiated for me, I was still struggling to find a sense of individuality in my community.
My second piece represents my perspective in the present. Throughout my three years at CSU, I've gained a lot of information about what it means to be an educator. I was able to take many art courses that I had never experienced before, and the explorative process was really vital to establishing my sense of self and individual style. There are copious theories and studies that go into the understanding of education, no matter the age. Learning about child development and cognitive skills, in relation to art and the creative process shed a whole new light on my understanding of teaching. It is not rigid, or something you can teach from a book. It is learned through experience and the relationship you have with your students. They are all at different stages of development, learning, understanding, maturity, etc. This information was really a whirlwind for me and I felt confused but excited, nervous but ready to learn more. I created a geometric style flower to represent different approaches to be creative, or even learning for that matter. Interpretation is called such because it is individual, not rigid. The petals fit together to make a circular form representing how my new knowledge is falling into place and connecting in interesting ways I never expected. The center of the flower is folded to contain a small glimmer of tinsel material, representing the idea that I am aware of how much I have yet to learn, but I am sure it will be revealed to me as I gain more knowledge and experience.
My perspective in the future is visibly much different than the present. The flower changes into a three-dimensional form representing my new found love of sculpture. It was a completely new approach to making artwork that I became quickly enthralled by. I felt taking three-dimensional courses in college was a turning point for me where I really felt that my boundaries and options for creativity were pretty endless. It is much different than my past work, and this representation has transformed and grown from where I began. The tinsel has now been revealed and sprouts erratically from the center of the flower. This new knowledge is nurtured by the surrounding petals which represent my future students. The large leaves serve as a cradle for my class, providing a supportive environment for them to thrive and grow.
After thinking about the key elements I found influential in my education as a K-12 student and my experience as an undergrad, I compiled them into 10 key elements in my personal teaching philosophy:
1 | Transformation and growth
2 | Background knowledge/resources
3 | Fluid process & interpreting
4 | Safe and open environment
5 | Willingness to fail & experiment
6 | Challenge & NO hand-holding (i.e. experiment, take risks, fail)
7 | Improve myself & analyze class response, results, & feedback
8 | Constructive criticism (inclusion of critique process)
9 | Discussion & collaboration
10 | Personal & pertinent projects (something they will WANT to keep)
Going back to these standards once I enter my teaching career will be very important in establishing a community and healthy learning environment for my students. I want my students to feel that their education is in their hands. There has to be a certain level of vulnerability where my students will feel that they can try new things and fail as many times as they need to reach the goal they have set. I will be learning along the way as well, and do not want my students to think I have everything figured out...because nobody does. If I make mistakes, I am fully responsible and vice versa. Having open discussion and an inclusive environment will be vital to their success as students and my success as their guide.
For more details + documentation of my artworks created to accompany these blog posts, visit my instagram!