Monday, August 17, 2009

The Gifts of Teaching ....

Finally coming up for air after another amazing week in Phoenix at the 7th annual Art Unraveled.  I must admit that I've been having withdrawal - as many have.  If you've never been to an art retreat and to AU in particular, there's magic that happens from the moment you set foot in the door of the venue.  Life as you know it in the "real world" is temporarily suspended and it's like being at camp, a carnival, school, and a big sleep over with your favorite cousins. Thank you, Linda, Chuck and crew and all the talented teachers for another wonderful event...more about my trip in a later post.

This past Sunday, I had the distinct privilege to do something else that I adore - teach a class.  For me, teaching is like nothing else I do in my life.  When I teach, I'm able to guide others in exploration and experimentation, while being of service to my students.  While doing this, I too get gifts from my students...the joy I see when they discover that they can indeed create;  the switch they make from feeling intimidated to exploring the tools, medium and their creativity with enthusiasm; and experiencing the students exuberance and gratitude at the end of the class. 

Nancy Dolan - from nurse to artist 

Another gift of teaching for me is introducing eager new students to the world of collage and mixed media and art in general.  Yesterday I had that privilege.  I watched as one of my students with no knowledge of this medium or the tools we use, dove in and created a beautiful book.  Watching her walk through uncertainty, which turned to smiles and laughter as she allowed herself to play and get in touch with her creativity, warmed my heart.  Being in her shoes not too long ago, I was thrilled to pass the torch.  

Carol Rothman - former kindergarten teacher now 2nd grade teacher to artist 

Marjorie Grace-Sayers - music teacher/musician - mother of four - turned artist 

Yesterday,  a small group of students joined me in a spontaneous last minute announced class at VIVA Gallery upstairs studio in Sherman Oaks.  As we gathered, an opening for a new exhibit was happening downstairs in the gallery, which made for a festive mood and an inspiration for my students.  The class was called "All About Me".   We discussed how as women, we are nurturers and caretakers in many areas of our lives.  I asked the students to give themselves permission to focus on "me" (each of them) for this class.  Some found that it was a difficult task making that switch.  

Carol Rothman with her completed book - her word was "evolving" 

Carol's back cover 

Carol's front cover - with stitched pocket and hand made silk tie-died ribbons

Nancy Dolan's book - her word was "becoming"

Nancy's back cover 

Nancy's front cover using found objects 

Each student was asked to think of a word or words that best described where they were in their lives at this time.  They were to keep that word in mind as they created their accordian book.  Using beautiful papers, crackle paints, distress inks, stamps, ephemera and more, the students created "a place"  just for them and their thoughts and dreams.  The results were beautiful and the few hours spent creating art and focusing on themselves was enlightening for all who participated.  

Marjorie with completed book - she chose "All About Me" as her words 

Marjorie's front cover

I am so grateful for the gift of teaching and for the students who allow me to share what I know with them as they explore their incredible creativity.  Life is good and I am truly blessed. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Disintegration Project - The Big Reveal

Taaa- taaa- taaa- daaaaaaa! Get ready for the big reveal of the result of participating in Seth Apter's wonderful Disintegration Project on his blog The Altered Page - over 100 artists participated starting back in January of this year. We were to place all kinds of ephemera etc out in the elements and leave them until August 1 when we would share what happened on our blogs. Living in Southern California I was at a bit of a disadvantage compared to my northern and east coast artist participants. I placed my pages of an old dictionary tied with twine and some shipping tags on my little balcony and made sure that when I watered my plants I watered my art experiment too. Since we have very little rain where I live I figured that would be okay to help it along a bit and add to the aging of the sun on my pages.

My original post (January 28, 2009 - Disintegration - Seth's Project) on this blog about this project allows me to see the difference in aging and disintegration that transpired over eight months. I began to create an art piece as I looked at my aged dictionary pages. Here's what I created using the rolled dictionary pages, the aged dictionary cover, aged and weathered shipping tags, some netting and twine all glued to cardboard (the backing for watercolor paper tablet that I saved).

The tags say: Words Without Knowledge Bind Thinking...I came up with them after completing the binding of the dictionary pages under the netting. I love words and learning and teaching and somehow this art piece speaks to me.

A million thank you's to Seth and to all the other wonderful artists who participated.

If nothing else comes from this art piece - this is enough. Enjoy and I welcome your comments!

PS - a small disclaimer about my photos - had to take them with my cell phone because my camera died last night! Double click on the photos to see a larger version with details.