Friday, June 15, 2018

Mrs. Smiley's Art

My visual arts teaching philosophy addresses the complicated and inextricable relationship between creativity and skill. The very nature of arts learning is complex; you can teach students to use materials, but to what extent can you actually teach creativity and originality? I would argue that while creativity itself cannot be explicitly taught, it can absolutely be fostered and initiated through meaningful, process-oriented, and independent artistic encounters- provided these experiences present opportunities for creative problems to be solved, and for artistic “rules” to be broken.  I often tell my students, “You have to know the rules in order to know how to break them.” It is in these “breaks” that true creativity and originality emerges.

This is also my approach to creating my own art. As an art teacher, I know that I must find balance and make time to focus on my own creative process, for numerous reasons. First, creating my own work keeps my head in the game, so to speak. I think it is vital for teachers to be able to empathize with students, and my way of doing this is to make sure to put myself in the position where I too experience the same elation and frustration as they do in their own creative processes. Creating my own work is also a great way to experiment with new media as a way of trouble-shooting for future projects with students. Finally, of course, I create the art for art's sake, because it is what I truly love to do, and I want students to see the joy that is sparked in me when I am at my most creative.

With this approach in mind, I strive to create projects that seamlessly blend skill-building with spontaneous and differentiated opportunities for creativity and originality.  My aim is to create a learning experience that balances both the rich hands-on experience of creating artwork and the essential skills of developing knowledge and awareness of the creative process. I believe that students benefit from experiencing a wide range of materials, including two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and digital, so that they can discover the properties of the materials and their potential.  Art History is another essential part of the studio art process, and students must engage in frequent and meaningful discussions of artwork, both their own and that of famous artists. Through this thoughtful, deep, multi-faceted approach, students are engaged, inspired, and challenged.

Here are some examples of the work I have done over the years in mosaic and pastel.