Thursday, December 29, 2011

MIA: Inspiration, space, and the issue of time.

Where did you go?
My artwork is always on my mind.  It may not be a top priority every moment, but it is always tucked in that little corner of my peripheral mind popping up at the most expected, and unexpected times.  The most exciting moments happen when I am inspired by other artists, friends, students, loved ones.  The most lucid, and most undesirable moments happen around 3am.  This post, I'm sure, feels like deja vu, as once again I have left you completely alone for months.  The sarcastic me will say that I left you sobbing in the corner just waiting on pins and needles for my return, like that puppy who you thought you would leave for an hour to go to the grocery store, but in fact, you left whimpering at the door for the entire day while you had coffee with your long lost friend.  The self deprecating me will say that you didn't even really notice I was gone because you don't really read this blog that often, if really, at all.  

Realistically, I will say that I gave you some space.  You read about some art, you saw some art... and then you had some time to think, and to reflect, and perhaps to create your own work.  Right?  

Unexpected path to inspiration.
What kind of mother would I be if I didn't
post a brag photo about my daughter?
About two weeks before I was supposed to go back to teaching part time at Maine South High School, I interviewed (and was offered) for a full time art teacher position Kenwood Academy High School, and  I accepted!  This is a Chicago Public School; a very different (some might say completely opposite) experience from Maine Township.  Last spring, when I found out that my job with Maine was cut down to part-time, I was devastated.  I did, however, have several summer months to come to terms with the idea, and was very excited to spend quality time with my one-year-old daughter.  

The unexpected shift to full time at Kenwood really flipped my world upside down.  Thanks to a supportive husband, I have been able to delve back into another brand new job, with brand new situations to anticipate, and a brand new curriculum to build with a brand new collaborative team... with brand new personalities to adjust to.

I have been so inspired by both my colleagues and my students at Kenwood.  I have been so privileged to build such deep and inspiring relationships with these people in such a short amount of time. People outside of this little bubble ask me how work is going, and honestly... I have no words!  I end up seeming aloof as I say, "Oh, it's good."  How do you sum up the experiences you have working with such an eclectic group?  

While teaching at Kenwood, I have been even more inspired to create my own artwork (but of course, with less time to accomplish).  To prepare for my classes, I have been drawing, and collaging and watercoloring.  I have been working in ink and working with construction paper and with magazines.  I glued twine to a pumpkin to demonstrate physical texture, and I drew letters repeatedly to show linear perspective.  I made a 3D speech bubble out of cardboard and tape, and I wrote my name in crazy fonts to demonstrate light source and value.  

Ultimately, what have I done?  I have convinced a student to be to school on time every day.  I have made a success plan so that a junior will pass her classes this year.  I spoke to a mother who teared up as I told her about the beautiful things her daughter sincerely said to me, at just the right time.  I hugged a student who came in to class after being shot.  I genuinely greet my students every day at the door by saying, "Good morning.  It's so nice to see you today."  

Don't get me wrong.  There are days when I think over and over again:  "Why can't you be to school on time?"  "How do you expect to ever hold a job when you decide to sleep in or get McDonald's instead of coming to class?"  "I'm asking you to write a two page paper about your artwork- not a novel! GIVE ME A BREAK!" "How many times do I have to explain this?"  "Is this really what our future holds?"  
Who doesn't feel this way at times?  Am I sounding like an old, crotchety witch?  
I try my best at times like this to say, "You have so much potential.  I would not give you work you could not complete.  I believe in you.  You are smart.  You are talented.  You could not do algebra before you were taught and you practiced, why do you think you should just be able to draw?"  And some times I throw in a "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!" or "I love you guys, but you are driving me BONKERS!"  

Yes, I say bonkers.  

And my students say, "Mrs. Taylor- say 'OH MY SOUL!'"  

And then, I do.  

And they giggle.  

And we get back to making art.

So what about the art?
I have some amazing coworkers, just as I did last year at Maine.  I am so inspired by the knowledge and practice.  It's phenomenal!  This year, we developed a curriculum that focused intensely on the Elements of Design for the first quarter.  In the following posts, I will share tidbits of success and failures (as I always like to do).  

I also taught another Adult Beginner Digital SLR class at the Brickton Art Center in Park Ridge, IL.  (I thought this over the summer and was asked to teach another one this fall).  I believe this class will be offered again in the spring (March?).  

I photographed a wedding reception.

I made some art.  Many of my personal projects have been put to the side, however, as I focused my attention towards school, and my family.  One major project, that you all know about, is the encaustic project.  I am SO close to finishing this project and will post the completion shortly.  A few other projects I am working on are Christmas gifts.  Keep your eyes peeled for these posts within the next week or so!  

I also will be posting up some props for my fellow artists who I am inspired by and would like you to know about!  

And away we go!

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