DAD ARTISTS AT HOME
Lockdown has provided some people with ‘gained time’ to focus upon their artistic practice, to use it as a sort of therapy during this strange time; to pursue ideas and enjoy the creativity that time itself can allow you.
As an artist-teacher, I have to balance my own artistic practice with forming learning resources and creating exemplar pieces for students. When the lockdown was declared, I was sad to say goodbye to the students and not know when we’d see each other again. As an Art and Design teacher, your role as an educator of course is to implement a strong foundation in the subject, providing the skills, knowledge and the confidence to pursue creativity in explorative, constructive and playful ways.
Teaching and learning goes hand in hand, where not only does the teacher teach the students, but you also learn from them. Many a time whilst listening to their thoughts about a topic, their ideas and experimentation with processes has in fact directly fed into what I make, the ideas I personally explore. And sometimes, you may just find yourself making a jellyfish out of a plastic bottle and think, ‘hey this was fun!’ knowing the students are gaining skills from the task that may not link to your own practice at all.
It is vital as an artist-teacher that you model what you want the students to learn, to create – and that is strongly linked to maintaining your own artistic practice. Your portfolio can support aspects of their learning, modelling ways of thinking and creating, and hopefully be a source of inspiration for them. They are interested in the teacher as an artist, seeing the work they produce outside of the school environment. They also like seeing the step-by-step stages of making and the creative process behind an outcome that you can model for them in class; it makes what could be a daunting task, maybe even a daunting subject, accessible [and hopefully] enjoyable for them.
The examples of work that I have created during this lockdown period may appear random when grouped together – and that’s ok in this context; the learning aims and topics differ for each year group. The examples include exploring identity by making zines and creating alternative self portraits through the selection of objects/possessions that represent their personality. Additional examples include a plastic bottle challenge, surreal collaged scenes, repeat pattern designs, a cardboard challenge, photography based upon distortion, natural forms-based tasks.
What has been vital is ensuring these tasks are accessible for all at home – considering what materials and media they realistically have access to. The act of limiting the media and materials I have had to work with has been an enjoyable challenge for myself, making me really consider how to get students to successfully achieve learning aims through virtual learning. The materials they have used may seem ‘basic’, but they are not completely limiting when encouraging creativity.
I hope that what we have provided for our students is not only a continuity of learning, but maybe even a little bit of reflective and therapy time for them through the simple joy of making.