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Why I Teach Art...

“Diamonds are created under pressure.”

One of my teachers told me this on a day when I was having a particularly hard time finishing an art project at school. I asked her why she said it, and she explained that even in the most difficult moments in our lives, we have the ability to generate sparkling brilliance….like a diamond. A new-found sense of possibility came into my spirit and I was able to create a beautiful sculpture out of the clay that I thought would forever remain a blob on the table!

Children have an amazing ability to discover deep feelings and inspiration through creating art. Art allows us all to capture our imaginations and then interpret what we see in our minds eye through clay, paint, photography, tissue paper, mosaics or whatever we can get our hands on and heads around.I believe in teaching Art as if it is not simply the facility of learning how to manipulate a material or a achieving a skill or technique. I teach art as if it is a life lesson, a history lesson and journey to the core of the human soul.

Art is a reflection of the human experience, therefore I teach the social and cultural context of an art-form first. Why was this particular art-form important? How did it function within a culture? History? What effect did it have on people?Then we go about learning materials, texture, technique and exploring the creative process….always asking questions and nurturing critical thinking skills along the way.Then we start laying out the piece, using math and geometry to plan how we will display or install the piece when it is finished….discussing what we have learned and what the final piece means to us individually and as a group.

I teach children that there is a beginning, middle and end to the process of creating. I teach them to think about how it will be presented, who will the audience be that receives it, and how might people interpret the piece when they see it?In that essence, I tell my students that there are no mistakes in Art, because Art is honest communication.

Just like our feelings, every artistic moment is a chance to express what we feel, how strongly we feel, and make a choice about how we will interpret the ways we feel.Being able to take children on such a personal journey is both a great responsibility and tremendous joy. The Arts have the abilty to open our minds, heal our hearts and make the World a more interesting place.

That is why I teach ART……
Robin W
Your Child's Learning Ambassador
Indiana University--Bloomington
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