Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?

"Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?" We have all heard it, it has all made us cringe, and it has made us all defend ourselves as artists. Why is it that the majority of people don't view art teachers as "real" artists? I mean, why else would we devote our lives to teaching about art? 

With budget cuts, art programs and teachers are being cut. In many cases, general ed teachers are given art classes part time. Although I am sure that these gen-ed teachers are doing the absolute best they can, I can't help but to think that as this practice of replacing art teachers with gen-ed teachers continues, it will lead to hearing that phrase, "Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?" much, much, more. 

Unfortunately, once we get out of college and start working full time, art making can be a daunting task. For years at art school I made a piece of work at least every two weeks. Now that I am a teacher, I have made only 2 large scale paintings in an entire year. I attribute this mostly to "creative-block" as a result from being burned out from art school, but still, it keeps me up at night. 

As an art teacher we MUST keep practicing art. And no, doing student project examples don't count. Enter local art shows, keep a journal, or make it a point to paint something over the summer. I know this is easier said that done, but I am going to try and follow my own advice. 

 We have to be role models for our students. We are life long artist and teachers. Being an "Artist" and being a "Teacher" are equally important. So the next time someone asks you, "Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?" proudly reply, "I am an Artist-Teacher, come to my classroom and I will show you my personal art and my student's work." So, of course, make sure you have something awesome to show them :)

I ran across this article on yahoo news today. Gregory Euclide is an "artist and teacher" who finds time in his 25 minute lunch break to make inspiring art on his white board. Mr. Euclide, you are an inspiration not only to your students, but to artist-teachers everywhere. We may not all be as accomplished as you, but you are a  strong reminder of how we can inspire as teachers. Please look at his photo gallery, and thank you yahoo news for covering such a story.