Here are two old photographs of me at age 24 in 2001. The first was taken at Atomic nightclub which depicts my photographer identity at the time. The second photograph, (and let’s all have a laugh at the terrible blue fuzzy fur coat), was the official graduation photo from my Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Ottawa.
Last week’s class was my favorite of the semester so far. It was a pleasure to investigate Nicole Porter’s Article Exploring the Making of Wonder: The A/r/tography Model in a Secondary Art Classroom. Porter’s article raised many questions on the idea of space, human space versus professional or teaching space. Moreover, she confronted the outrageous notion that art teachers should not teach in their own classrooms.
An image from Atomic nightclub, 2001.
Yoyo did a fantastic job analyzing Porter’s work and her reflection contained the following questions: “What are the similarities and differences between artists and art teachers? Consider the terms artists, art teacher, artists-teacher, and teaching artists?”
Another image from Atomic.
This caused our class to question the tension of power and ranking between the art teacher and art specialist. Moreover, we considered the educational training of the art specialist who is more respected as an authentic artist but less involved invested in the institution. What’s more Yoyo questioned why so many art teachers don’t make art? As we concluded this can be due to self-limitation, and fear that art making may not be accepted by the institution.
This triggered a memory of a 25 year old version of myself who was ostracized at the alternative high school where I worked for taking nightlife photographs for a local newspaper. My colleagues were biased again the subject matter and did not respect my art even if it was accepted by the local media.
At age 26 I left my job teaching Secondary art to start an M.A. in Culture and Values education at McGill University. At the time it seemed deeply wrong that art teachers were not encouraged to create art. In Secondary education the notion of “team work” is often prized over “individuality”. This outlook can prohibit professional and personal progress in favor of appeasing the political dynamics of a provincially minded staff .
However, Porter’s article gives the message that art teachers can be authentic artists as we should be.