My goals as a teaching artist are to provide an environment where students can learn the visual language of art and begin using it to study expressions of people throughout our human story, communicate their personal reactions to life and interpret the current world flooded with visual images; from the juxtaposition of physical matter to persuasive messages of mass media.
Students ought to be familiar with the development of techniques and conceptual expressions in fine art media, but equally have an opportunity to explore the transformation of traditional craft based materials as well as the use of non-traditional materials. The induction of fiber arts into a visual art or general curriculum provides avenues for implementing intercultural and cross-disciplinary learning. Raw animal and cellulose fiber has been transformed to meet the basic needs of shelter and clothing, as well as, employed by cultures and individuals as a medium to communicate aesthetic pleasure, and conceptual expression. By way of offering teaching focused in the medium of felt, students are able to integrate learning in science, technological development, engineering, art, mathematics and social studies.
Artistic endeavors present opportunities for not only developing perseverance and manual dexterity but also the building of social skills. Group discussions/critiques encourage development of opinions as well as an ability to question ones perspective, acceptance and sensitivity toward those with differing views and learning how to give as well as receive constructive criticism. It is through this interactive dynamic that self-efficacy is built and higher ordered thinking is nurtured. Students learn to observe, analyze, interpret and evaluate artistic expressions, information, physical surroundings and their own personal experience and existence; the basis for developing meaningful art work as well as a meaningful life.
It is essential for an educator to model these skills and thought processes and to be self-reflective of their teaching methodology while evaluating student learning and effort. I highly value the opportunities for expression and interpretation offered by the visual arts and this has facilitated my interest in and respect for the visions of young people.