Monday, September 28, 2009

Week one, done and done.

What an amazing first week! Jefferson Elementary School in Helena, MT is a model school. Unbelievable staff, a relentlessly supportive administration and the school is filled with an enthusiasm for learning and life that makes my job easy. They truly value the arts and embrace the unknown with vigor. I don't think all of the teachers would list "art" as their utmost passion. However, they embrace learning for themselves and their students to such a degree that they expand their passions to encompass all areas. They value the fact that all learning is an inter-connected process. One thing does not exist on it's own. Art is a shadow image of history, mathematics, science, language, culture...everything. It was beyond a pleasure to spend 4 days at Jefferson. I seem to get so attached to the students and teachers that by Friday, it's difficult to say goodbye.
I love art, obviously. I love sharing art, evidenced by my chosen occupation. Days full of curious faces all wanting to know what I've come to show them (teachers, students, everyone) makes my day worthwhile. I heard quite a few exclamations that, "this is my best day EVER." Throughout the halls, rumblings of the drawing machine, parfleche, the bison bowls (oh my!)...all of the work in the show, could be heard between K-5 students alike, not to mention among teachers in the teachers lounge. Anything to get people excited, confused, talking...I love it!

I joke that I am a bit of a circus. I show up at schools and go hard, expelling every bit of energy I can (at times with a serious coffee in hand) showing all of my new art "tricks." But these "tricks" are ideas and thoughts that we all, as humans, have to some degree. These tricks are experiments that are brought to light by the amazing people who take the time to create their artwork. There is nothing better than to begin to crack the box that a persons comfortable thought processes are contained in. Even if just for a moment, to say, yes, this artist decided that they would in fact use only recycled materials to make their art. Yes, this drawing is actually made from a kinetic sculpture, a drawing machine. That one style of art was the child of necessity to communicate through language barriers. Communication can cross cultural boundaries. We can understand one another through a piece of artwork. And the goal isn't really to find the answer. These students just need a spark. Maybe art will be their passion. Maybe art will be their escape. What they do with it, that's not up to me. But at the very least, maybe they saw something as possible that they never imaged before. Or maybe, they just had the best day EVER.

One last thought...this week I had students remember my painting style (and be able to pick out my piece) from last year. They remembered art language (media, landscape, abstract, realistic, etc.) and they floored me when the used it! I was also able to have a LOT of great visitors!! Sarah Jager and Emily Free Wilson came by to discuss their functional pottery with the students (so great!), many involved people in the art community came by, Beck McLaughlin from the Montana Art's Council, Teresa Veltkamp from OPI/Indian Education for all...THANK YOU to everyone who came by! As you can see, a very good week indeed. Until next time-

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