Honor Your Artist

We in this Teaching-Artist hybrid field sometimes get caught up in the education world parlance and rhetoric, especially as we all struggle to prove how awesome and vital what we as Teaching Artists do, that we may be funded, or otherwise gain credibility for the field.
This relationship with the ed world is important; it is indeed a good chunk of what we do, and knowing what you are doing as an educator in a classroom or community space is extremely important. Certainly no refutations here! Sometimes however, we start to favor this portion of our hybrid-ity over the artist part. So this is my small offering today, for no reason in particular that it should be today: let’s honor your artist.
YOU ARE AN ARTIST! Go get ‘em! Celebrate this occupation, and your unique place in it. You’re fabulous! You make stuff and see deep and dream, and hold this way of being aloft.

Make time for your art. You are an artist because you are an art-ist. One who “arts” (Is that awkward? Or is it just that I have a five year old?).

-No time after the day job? Sketch, write, or dream on the train.
-Host a salon in your apartment for friends.
-Wake up before your children, watch the sunrise, and do your practice for 15 minutes.
-Take a class. I love how dancers, like lawyers, always are taking a class. Actors and painters and others may benefit….
-If you teach, share your own artwork with your students. I am surprised how many people don’t actually do this, even as “teaching artists”. I have been guilty of this myself. Of course the visiting artist gets to do this all the time, and depending on what you do/make it could be inappropriate, but look for ways to integrate your own practice into your teaching at a deeper level. Work outside education? Regardless of where you put in your hours, finding ways to weave all that together is good stuff. Check out Eric Booth’s The Everyday Work of Art.

The Everyday Work of Art, by Eric Booth. And Jean's hand.
The Everyday Work of Art, by Eric Booth. And Jean’s hand.

Identify what it means to you to be an artist. There is a lot of conversation about what makes an artist, but have you noticed there isn’t really a completely clear and agreed upon definition? Check out this interesting post from Hyperallergic which talks about this year’s NEA survey based on census data, and another conversation about what makes an artist that has some great running comments! So define what it is for you, and do it. Amateur, professional, published or not, whatever. Please don’t let definitions hold you back from doing what you do. Do the dang thing.
I lift my coffee to you this morning, artist teachers, teaching artists, devotees of the practice, lovers of the craft. You remind me I love the spinning world. Thanks for being in it.



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