Sunday, August 16, 2015

I make things..........

I am an Artist. I am a teacher and I make things. Not always Art, Not always a finished project. Sometimes it is just a technique or a process that I need to work through but I make stuff. I always have. Sometime it is a doodle and sometimes a sculpture.  I make lists and sometimes I even cross off all of the items on the list but most of the time I just roll it all into another list. I pile the sets of monkey and monster dentures I have made for sculptures, paint and texture swatches I've tested and unused assemblage stuff into totes in my studio and the doodles go into the stacks of sketchbooks I have piled up. And I am comfortable with it. I can see it, I can find it, I can touch it. But recently I have been struggling with the technology and making things. I am having a hard time with the balance of these two. Online research has replaced making a sample and the experience of discovering something new on your own. Texting a photo takes the place of meeting somebody in the studio or a coffee shop and sharing that new "thing" with them and experiencing a creative connection. And while I can recognize the benefit of instant connection by text or messenger, I miss that part of the creative process sometimes.

Two years ago, I had a pretty bad health scare. (I promise this really is all connected) Seriously I was scared, terrified. I didn't go through it alone, I had friends and family-although I didn't share it with everyone right away. Really not something you want to share via text or put on Facebook. I needed a voice and a hand to tell me it was going to be ok. A text made me smile for half a second until the voices in my head began bring doubt and fear back. MY sister's voice telling me everything would be ok no matter what, resonated for days. Coffee and massage at the local spa with a friend lasted for a week. I cried a lot then. I felt like technology was going to condemn me or free me. I needed that medical technology but I would pick up my phone to text someone and then I would stop. I needed an actual human connection. I needed to make contact with a human being. This couldn't be experienced any other way.

 This summer was fabulous. The NC-OAEA teachers gathered often and worked together on projects techniques and arts experiences. We supported and encouraged each other as we created giving instant feedback, sharing "happy accidents" and we made stuff.  I worry, that today's kids will never have that same creative experience. The experience of working together with other artists to solve problems and find solutions. (Outside of classroom experiences of course) I worry that they have been forever altered because of technology. That their human experiences have been minimized.  That their feedback from texting or messaging their work to someone will be met with a Will they be able to recognize the emotions of the artists in an artwork if they have never had the same emotional experience? They can research it and find the artist's intention immediately because of the internet, but will they truly understand it? Or are they now only able only able to recite the information they have found. Have they been desensitized because of technology to the importance of human emotion in a simple conversation?  I am concerned that the focus of technology and all that testing is going to truly damage the creative process and experience for our students. Please know, I am not saying technology is bad, and I feel that technology as an art medium is awesome and important! And I realize that technology is actually essential to our society, I just wonder about the effects it may have now and farther out in the future on the communication and creative experience.

Our arts classes are needed so much more now than they ever have been. And yes, I want them to know the color wheel and to compare and contrast styles and cultures-and I really hope they can do that during testing too, but most important to me is that they experience the entire artistic process. Expression, discovery, connections, and the simple pure joy of being able to say I MADE that. It is mine.  I MADE someone else stop and look and I MADE them feel something. I MADE a connection with another person because of my art. After that, they are free to post, facebook and text it up to everyone.

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