I consider myself a creator. My art is ways in which I try and communicate or pass on the feelings and ideas that take hold of my mind with great intensity. These themes revolve around ideas of identity and the formation of it in childhood, psychology, time, family, relationships and all-encompassing emotions. I enjoy using different mediums, such as film photography, ceramics, and painting.
In the last few years, film photography and sculpting have taken a front seat. I find photography a great way to evoke a feeling and tell a story in one moment in time. I like to manipulate the environment and subjects of my photographs in order to achieve this. My last series was meant to convey my childhood experience and the idea of home from my perspective. I used a dilapidated house as my setting and used myself as the main character, usually showing up in double form. I used black and white 120mm film, and implemented double and long exposure techniques to evoke a feeling and highlight some themes throughout the series.
Sculpting feels like second-nature. From start to finish, the process of sculpting clay allows me to emote and communicate using touch and intuition on a different level. I see art as a pathway to share what emotion or idea occupies my mind. I’m currently planning a series of pieces that highlight or attempt to explain the nature of human relationships and the emotions they evoke.
My hope is that my audience connects to my work, in their own way and for at least one moment, we share a mutual understanding, a feeling.
I think my first exposure to teaching was as a child. My mother, an immigrant who had no opportunity of any education as a child in her home country, was learning to read and write in English. She always asked me to help her with her lessons and I recall telling her funny ways to memorize spelling words. I enjoyed helping her very much and even though I probably couldn’t appreciate it as a kid, I was helping my mom feel like she could achieve things she never thought possible. I have always loved learning and one of the most fulfilling moments is having helped someone understand something they didn’t understand before or didn’t think they could do. I think that’s the most powerful thing one can help another to cultivate: empowerment.
In my experience with teaching ESL abroad and diverse languages here in the U.S, I have realized that everyone learns differently. This may depend on the individual’s personality, their native language, their family culture, ethnic culture, capabilities, and interests. I think our main goal as a teacher is to find a way to reach as many students as possible with knowledge, which in turn, empowers them and opens their minds to opportunities. It allows them to envision their future possibilities and gives them the confidence to reach for these goals.
There are many teaching theories out there and I can see the merit to most, but I believe it is a customized approach that works best. I also feel that as teachers, we learn and constantly modify our techniques, adapting to the students and the environment we are in. I agree with Perennialism’s teaching of principles. If we can instill within our students such qualities as integrity and hard work, perhaps best done through our example, we definitely should. I also think Essentialism had a point to making sure students were learning concrete facts about essential subjects; however, I deeply agree with Progressivism ideals like making sure that our teaching is student-centered. We need to learn about our students’ interests and abilities in order to teach them in a way in which they will retain and internalize information. Having students learn to problem-solve both independently, but also collaboratively will help them long after their school years are over. They will be able to make decisions for themselves and also be able to work in a community and in society.
Concrete methods that I feel are helpful to these end goals are creating activities in which students get to share about themselves with other students and the teacher, while implementing the subject matter if possible. This can be done very nicely in the visual arts. Also, creating as much exposure to different points of view and cultures is important. While working in schools for an art non-profit, I felt it was incredibly enriching to base each art project on an artist from a different culture and/or a different time period. The student can learn some culture, history and implement that new style to create their own work of art. This teaches children that there are plenty of differences in the world, cultures, ideas and ways of doing things, which they can try on and see what is possible. It helps create people who are not limited in their views and are open to others.
Ultimately, I hope to keep learning how to reach students and help them along their paths to being educated and empowered individuals, who are open to those around them. Doing this through the arts, just makes it all the more fun and engaging.