What is Success? Part One: Success in Teaching in the Arts

April 28th, 2011

blue ribbonWhen nothing is sure,
everything is possible.

~Margaret Drabble

I’ve had my share of wins in my two professions: art and teaching.

Artist friends are often disbelieving that I keep on teaching, and put so much time into it.

Teaching colleagues don’t understand why I am driven to still do all-nighters to finish work for a show.

That’s just the way it has to be since each one fuels the other. I love the interaction with students. Sharing the creative process feeds me.

Ceramic Sculpture created in Studio Class

Success in teaching in the Arts is when a student “gets it.” When a student progresses to a point where they are independently making good technical and aesthetic decisions, and when they understand the how and why of it. It’s tremendously satisfying to participate in that process. It happens frequently at Castleton State College  where I teach, and in the classes  teach in my studio in a variety of media.

When I taught at the elementary level I felt I had reached a pinnacle of success when the middle school teacher told me that I graded too easily. She is a terrific educator but Whaaat? I asked her how she came to that conclusion- her response was that all of the incoming students from my school thought they were artists! Hurrah!

Project for Intro to Studio based on the works of Andrew Goldsworthy

Those students are empowered to pursue the arts in whatever realm- whether as artists, art appreciators or future art collectors!

So that’s a win-win for me as an artist and as an educator.

In Part Two I’ll talk about  varying levels of personal and professional success in the arts.

3 Responses to “What is Success? Part One: Success in Teaching in the Arts”

  1. Kadira says:

    Liza I had to smile to myself when I read your post – all nighters before exhibitions and your comment on the satisfaction one gets from watching students blossom – I experienced both this week 🙂

    I held my first students exhibition of work – I felt so proud of them when I saw all their hard work up on the wall and they were just thrilled…. and yes there was an all nighter before it LOL !

  2. Robin Kent says:

    I had commented in Alyson’s blog about teachers vs artists that just because you have talent as an artist doesn’t mean you can teach. (Me being the case in point.) You must be talented as a teacher as well to make students grow as artists. Good going Liza.

  3. lizamyers says:

    Thanks Robin and Kadira… It’s a challenge to juggle so many hats. How’s that for mixing metaphors? But it’s also very satisfying. One thing that makes me a little sad is when artists become teachers and neglect their own passion. Of course, trying to do both is crazy-making.

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