Monday, June 6, 2011

I've just completed the Artist-Educator Foundations Course by the Royal Conservatory of Music with the support of the Ontario Arts Council. It was an amazing experience in every sense. I can only explain it by copying my Final Assignment. Here it is:

As I ponder about this paper’s subject matter and the purpose of writing it, some of the questions I was asked when I applied for this course and the answers I gave then, come to mind. It really surprises me to realize that I was able to predict what happened during the actual course.

To the question: Why are you interested in taking the Artist-Educator Foundations Course? I said: I love the possibility of learning how to teach new ways of approaching expression through colour, textures and material choices.

To the question: What are your hopes or expectations of this course? I answered: I would like to be able to expand on this new phase of my artistic career and gain more experience in a class set up.

To the question: Where do you see yourself going in your career? My answer was: I see myself confident that what I am teaching and how I am passing it along is the most efficient, educational and entertaining way available.
Did I accomplish all that? My answer is an absolute YES. I was introduced to a variety of teaching tactics that are both entertaining and engaging students, while leading them to an increased accountability in the class, and motivating them to learn through the arts.

My expectations of this course also had to do with a curiosity about a culture very different from the one I was educated in. Being an immigrant every movement is for me a challenge and in this case, it took me to a new level of knowledge and understanding of what surrounds me.

This class was for me a rehearsal. Being between many art forms produced by many backgrounds created an interesting exchange and, why not reflect that in my work?

Creativity must pair imagination. Yarns and fabrics will spin and interlace and create fresh and strong images. One of the most exciting moments in the course was introducing my art form to the classroom with a game. It took the students to understanding the basics of a very simple technique in which the use of soft materials can create an unusual object of admiration they will be very proud of showing to their peers.

Due to the nature of my art work, what I bring to the class is different to what other artists can bring and I’m confident in the fact that it will interest many teachers or programs organizers in many places. I come out of this course with the certainty that I now have the skills to create the network I need to expand professionally.

In terms of how I will apply my experience from this course to my life and future classrooms, what stands out from my experiences in this course is the fact that I have worked with peers in a lab-style class using new ideas and enjoying it all along. Creating a Rap Song was something I’ve never expected I will be able to do and I hope my future students will experience the same joy when learning how to weave a tapestry.

One of the most interesting readings for the class was the one about multiple intelligences. As a teacher I expect to find the way to deal with that matter and take advantage of that to have every student working in their own way, to achieve the goals I set out for them. I would also like to have the possibility of giving my students a chance to immerse themselves in a world of textures and volumes. To allow them to view every piece as a learning experience and to acquire the same passion I have for vibrant colours, and for the interplay of textures as well as the reactions they provoke against one another. These are the elements that drive my inspiration. My mission involves educating people about what a tapestry really is. My previous experiences have made it clear that many don’t even know the meaning of the word and I’ll have to give them the tools to learn what it is all about. Tapestry doesn’t usually have the same exposure as other art forms and sometimes being “just a piece of woven fabric,” is not as powerful as a painting when it comes to expressing an idea. I’d also like to engage my students in a healthy discussion about what matters in this kind of art to exercise their minds at the same time as they work with their hands. Handwork is not always seen as a valid choice and creating images by interlacing yarns should be for them a rewarding moment. Teachers must also be guided in this journey.

I’ve always viewed every corner of my studio as hub of creativity and now it’s also going to be a means of transferring it to others. I take pleasure in touching and working with different materials such as wool, thread, wood, objects around the house. It is as if these objects had a life of their own and would transmit it to the world through my hands, as if I acted as a messenger between them and the world that surrounds us. My work is also a way of learning. I grow professionally and creatively through my personal experiences as an artist.

Of course learning how to weave a tapestry has many stages. It is the same as mounting on a ladder step by step. First the basics, then making simple woven objects before being able to create simple geometric forms and that takes to simple images or just organic forms that look like waves or hills. After all that comes the use of drawing skills to create a simple image to weave and the ladder goes on and on.

I think that offering teachers a possibility to combine my teachings with their history lessons will offer their students a good prospect of many cultures because even if we don’t realize it weaving is been part of every day life since very old ages.

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