Teaching is like an efficient watershed system; A really great teacher provides water in an efficient and optimal manner, channeling that water and enabling the student to grow. I pour a lot into my job. I love teaching, sharing information, creating something new together, etc. There is a real joy in tending to the minds of the young and witnessing growth on a very personal level, but along with this constant tending comes a certain depletion and this is why I feel it is imperative for a teacher to take time away from the classroom/studio. How can I continue to inspire if I myself am lacking inspiration? Basically, my watershed needs more rain!
I’m now on month three of the sabbatical and I’m already filled with inspiration and am excited to share what I am learning, excited to share with my students the information, the stories, the patterns and textures I have witnessed so far. One cannot teach if one is not learning. I believe the classroom/studio is a place to experiment, try new things, explore, explore, explore and not repeat the same lessons/curriculum year after year, but a teacher needs time away from the classroom in order to replenish. Several weeks ago I went on a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons to hike and explore the natural world off season. I stopped at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson where I was inspired by the architecture and the collection of paintings and sculptures. http://www.wildlifeart.org
I also visited The Colter Bay Visitor Centers where I viewed a small, but well done exhibit on Native American art. While I was there I met an artist named Guillermo Martinez who makes drums and flutes. His musical instruments are beautifully crafted and we chatted for awhile. Turns out he used to live right down the street from me in Los Angeles and we have mutual friends. I asked him if he would be a guest artist in my class next fall and he agreed. Once again, this sabbatical has given me the gift of time to go out and explore and make new connections.
Although I love a good museum exhibit, I honestly find more inspiration from being outdoors, out on a hike away from the bombardment of urban life, far from cars and freeways in a quiet place where my senses can focus and experience the artistic wonder of nature.
Having the time to hike with the time to stop and stare at the patterns of an autumn leaf, a slow moving snake, the mineral veins of a rock, etc. have given me at least a dozen ideas for new lessons and an invigorated sense of being. Line! Pattern! Texture! I’ll leave you with the sound of Aspens from the Grand Tetons.