August 23, 2014

How Teaching Art is Like Shopping OR


Stella and I saw a Mermaid Tail in the window and we dragged my husband into this store called Fashionista Vintage and Variety. 

I was searching for a vintage bag that I can transform into a camera bag. . . so I told the owner a laundry list of things I needed in a new bag. We looked and looked and she said something that rang really true for me.
"That is the kiss of death. . . knowing exactly what you're looking for. . . you'll never find it!"

So true!

I turned around and laid my eyes on this beauty. It was love/lust at first sight.

Everything about this purse was inspiring, the textures, the colors, the whimsical beads on the handle of this "I mean business" purse. I could not have dreamed up a more perfect purse!

What this shop owner gave me was more then an inspiring purse (yes guys, woman get inspired by accessories) but a new way to look at art teaching and making.

If you know exactly what you are looking for and search for the perfect lesson, perfect project, perfect shot then you will never be inspired to see what's in front of your face. Sure I still need a camera bag and those go to lessons, but it's more important to be open to what inspires me to do my best work.

I know a lot of my friends and I have been in a slump with the recent goings-ons in modern public education (even art education) and trying to relate as an artist/teacher. I got all the advice I needed from this one mystical Vintage and Variety shop owner. . . that knocked me on my butt. Finding what you didn't know existed is not something you can plan or know. . . you just have to look and be a person who can still be inspired. Isn't that a better lesson to teach our kids be open to learning things that you didn't even know existed (since most of the jobs they get don't exist yet anyways) instead of simple making check marks on objectives every day, every class, measuring growth to a goal that we aren't even sure will be relevant to them. Blanket objectives are like my old camera bag, perhaps necessary for now, but not inspiring in the least. . . we need to search for a better way. If there was a map quest to the answer we'd already be doing it! But we have to do the hard work as educators and artists by keeping our eyes open and being inspirable;)

Enjoy the start of your school year and if you don't have every detail worked out yet it's probably a good thing if you remember to keep your eyes open (and listen to your students)!

Last but not least, the shop owner wrapped my new love in a vintage piece of silk fabric with watercolor wild horses on it. She attached it to a hobo stick and sent me off into the world with my new find. 


Mrs. C said...

Here Here!!! Well said!!! :) :) :) I have spent this summer on a quest to re-discover my creativity... true creativity ... I was feeling lost, stagnant... I tried some new things, learned some exciting things and found a way to get out of my rut. Had I not been open to those new ideas I think I would still be in that rut... I plan on taking this new found feeling and using it to inspire my lessons and my students. I have to have all the boring paperwork stuff, objectives, assessments, etc...for school, but I am determined to teach/show my students how to keep/regain their true creativity regardless of all the paperwork... have an awesome, creative year! ( love the new bag! and love how the shop keeper wrapped it up for you! Creativity is everywhere we just have to look and be open to seeing it... :)

Phyl said...

So well said, Erica! (And by the way, I love those fruity beads on the purse, and especially the vision of it wrapped on the hobo stick! Fabulous! (But wait, you didn't buy the mermaid tail?!?)

I had an event like that this past week - an unexpected inspiration. I was poking through tide pools on a Maine beach, looking for sea glass for no particular use or reason, (which, I think had already been found by jewelry makers anyways) when I started seeing bright spots of color - first, a Lego. Then, a bunch of heavy rubber bands (we think were perhaps for lobster claws). Then, my husband saw a tiny plastic rocking horse. And suddenly, I was no longer collecting sea glass, but instead was having a major artisitc inspiration, that hopefully you'll get to see come to fruition down the road. (By the way, I brought home a bagful of this colorful beach refuse.)

Unknown said...

Yes creativity is everywhere! Mrs. C I'm feeling a bulletin board idea coming on with this statement on it:)

I'm so glad you had the summer to really get inspired!

Unknown said...

Phyl that sounds like the start to something amazing. Especially the way they were disposed of and probably weathered by the tides. . .

I can't wait!

I sadly couldn't buy the mermaid tail because her costumes are for rent only! But I might rent it one day for a glamorous 50's photo shoot. .. the kind of shoot that a girl would send off to her Marine. Or maybe I'll just keep that a vision in my head:) Sounds like a lot of work with wedding season here.

Hope you can take some pictures of your work in progress with your wonderful photography.

Mary said...

Yes, I agree, letting go of pre-conceived ideas has always led me to my best personal art. My most popular art class this summer was process focused rather than product (Art Experiment Lab). There was a special freedom and joy the children had that was wonderful to watch. And I found the art they created was loose, unique and beautiful.

Unknown said...

Mary love love that Art Experiment Lab stuff. I think I'm going to translate the idea with the book the Best Artist in the Ocean. . . First with a guided lesson that unfolds into a large group work with lots of freedom and experimentation. Trying to do both worlds this year:)

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for blogging!