Welcome to ARTernityLEAVE.com

Two years ago I watched a Ted talk on my computer about a designer who takes every 7 years off to go on sabbatical. He spoke with passion about the sabbatical experience and how taking time off benefits not only his business, but also the renewal of his spirit. I decided that day I would take a year off from my regular art teaching job and started to plan the steps to make it happen. Over the years I have seen countless coworkers leave for several months while they go on maternity leave to have babies. I am thrilled for them and understand their need for the leave, but what about the women who don’t have children? I got to thinking about the idea of leaving work to create something other than a child. What about going on leave to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, work on environmental causes, or donate time as an artist in a community, etc.

Two years later, I am here on ARTernity Leave with one entire year off to give birth to creative projects and thoughts. What is ARTernity Leave? It is a word I made up playing on the idea of a maternity leave, but instead of me leaving work to have a human baby, I have taken time away from work to give birth to several community based art projects, the first of which is a large mosaic in Echo Park celebrating Farmers Markets and healthy foods in our communities. This mosaic wall is approx. 40 feet long and is a gift to the community. I am volunteering my time and getting most of the materials donated. The year off will enable me to have large amounts of time to work freely on various projects with and for my community.

This website will chronicle my year off and the projects I am involved with and hopefully encourage others to take some time off, take a sabbatical, go on an ARTernity leave, etc.

Please understand, this is in no way an anti-motherhood, anti-child website. I have dedicated my entire life to lovingly teaching children art, I am a proud auntie, and have always had a deep affinity and respect for kids. This blog is an exploration for me and a way to share and celebrate the rare gift of TIME.

I want to thank many people for helping me with my ARTernity Leave. One does not just leave work for a year without the help of folks willing to step in, substitute teach, take over tasks, etc. My colleagues at Pilgrim School especially Janne Larsen for taking over the fine arts chair position while I leave and Sara Simon for being my substitute for an entire year, my amazing and positive boss, Dr. Mark Brooks for giving me the gift of an entire year to grow as a teacher and a person with the understanding it will come back twofold to my classroom and my school’s community, Teresa McDougal and Dr. Sheryl Cohen for their support, my friends and family, and my husband Benjamin for always being my double spine and having my back. I also want to thank the man I saw speak on Ted Talks two years ago. Stefan Sagmeister. He doesn’t know, but he inspired me to take this year off and I tip my hat to him for that.  – Katrina Alexy


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