Sunday, July 14, 2013

Esther Hilsenrad's Improbable Beautiful

“Improbable Beautiful”
The Teaching Artist Questionnaire

1. How long have you been a teaching artist?

My first experience as a teaching artist was in 2006. As a high school History teacher I started co-teaching an after school art class.
Later that year, I started working as a teaching artist full time through museum work.
So, I was a teaching artist for 4 years. (I am not currently teaching art.)

2. What discipline(s) do you teach?

Currently, I teach English language at the University level in Korea, but prior to that I have taught pre-school, pre-school art, art, English writing/literature and World History.

3. Describe the setting(s) in which you teach.

Currently, I teach in a university in Seoul, South Korea.
As a teaching artist I last worked in a private school in Korea teaching 3-6 year olds art in classes of about 10 children. And prior to that I was teaching art through a museum, facilitating on-site fieldtrips, family drop-in programs and summer camp programs, as well as teaching art offsite in after school programs.

4. Who shaped your initial thinking about teaching art?

I am really not sure. I have always loved making art and crafting has been my hobby since I was a small child. I’ve also always loved teaching and so in some ways those two passions melded naturally. Both my parents are teachers and artists, and my older brothers are artists as well- so I am sure that has influenced me consciously and subconsciously.

5. Describe the relationship between your personal art practice and your art teaching?

I think the two feed each other. My experimentations with art making that occur while I am teaching seep into my personal art practice and the skills that I acquire while making my own art inform my teaching.

6. How do you sustain your art while teaching?

As best as I can. I try to make time for personal art making, but realistically I make art only once or twice a month.

7. What training in the arts and/or education have you had?

I have a lot of self-teaching, as well as familial influences. Art was always my elective choice in middle and high school. And at the age of 26 I took one semester at California College of Art and another at Laney College- where I mostly studied drawing and painting.

8. What are the biggest challenges you face as a teaching artist?

I think the biggest challenges I have faced have come from push back from the community. Either young people who lack familiarity or confidence with art making, or adults who don’t give students the space or freedom to explore their own creativity.

9. What are the unexpected rewards of being a teaching artist?

The smiles on young artists’ faces and the surprising lessons I learn when a students explores art in a way I had never seen or thought of before.

10. What advice do you have for other artists interested in teaching?

I think it’s a wonderful field that is rewarding in all ways other than financial.

Please share one anecdote of a memorable Teaching Artist experience.

A few years ago I was teaching in a summer camp at MOCHA. I was working with children 5-11 years old. We had started a new project and one of the youngest children in the camp, Khalil, was just not starting. The work period was almost over and I had nudged him to get started a few times already. I really thought he was just procrastinating and/or tired of thinking about art as he had been attending the week-long camps for the entire summer. Eventually he began and his idea was creative and original and I came over to talk to him. He told me I shouldn’t have rushed him. He said he had had to think about what he wanted to make. He couldn’t start until he was ready. I think it was a lesson about the art making process. He was waiting for his inspiration and my nudging was not going to help it come along.

A kids' view on why Art in school is important.

Enjoy this really cool video on art and creativity from the kid perspective.

The video comes from TakePart a website full for social action on many issues including Education. The site has lots of informative articles and thought provoking videos.