11.08.2016

BIG JOY

Teaching Art is a big, mixed, dripping, colorful, lumpy bag. Art Teachers are always carrying something, especially from the car into school. We are good at making an entrance, or
tripping over the entrance, in my case.

This year when I left the Art Educators of Minnesota conference, I was reassured that I teach Art because it comes from a place of joy. Joy ended up being the theme of the conference for me. Right after Brian Frink and I finished our presentation, “Big Magic: Following Joy and Curiosity in Your Art”, performance artist Gabrielle Civil with her commanding presence got up in the large ballroom and suggested that in the face of injustice and suffering we need to practice 'Experiments in Joy'. Joy is a pretty powerful and underrated antidote, really.

Bad days, bouts of exhaustion or sickness, and piled-up paperwork aside, students know if we are doing our work from a place of joy. Our family knows it, too. During our presentation, Brian and I shared images of our own work and inspiring words from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I explained that I make art so I can stay generous, and get some street cred with my students, too. We challenged other art teachers to dare to make art again, allowing themselves to be curious and play without plans and restrictions. We agreed it can be scary, but the joy of making art is what led to carrying this big, lumpy bag in the first place, right? Joy lightens the load.


Me and Brian Frink, after the presentation,
"BIG MAGIC: Following Curiosity &
Joy in Your Own Art"