Say hello to Jenn Easterling, a long-time member of The Curated Connections Library! She was one of our first members and now works for us creating lessons for the membership. Learn how she uses Art Class Curator resources in her classroom and how it has impacted her teaching and her life. For more information about The Curated Connections Library, visit artclasscurator.com/join
Watch the Interview on Facebook
Listen to Creating Meaning and Connection Now
Subscribe on iTunes or your podcast player of choice.
Links Mentioned in the Show
- The Curated Connections Library – Join Now Before January 7!
- Puzzles About Art: The Chimpanzee Painter
- ‘I am’ Dorothea Lange: Exploring Empathy Art Lesson
- For Members of The Curated Connections Library
Creating Meaning and Connection Transcription
Cindy: Hello, and welcome to the Art Class Curator Podcast. I am Cindy Ingram, your host and the founder of Art Class Curator and the Curated Connections Library. We’re here to talk about teaching art with purpose and inspiration, from the daily delights of creativity to the messy mishaps that come with being a teacher. Whether you’re driving home from school or cleaning up your classroom for the 15th time today, take a second, take a deep breath, relax those shoulders, and let’s get started.
Cindy: Hello, everybody. It is Cindy Ingram from Art Class Curator. I am here with Jennifer Easterling. We are going to do an interview about her experience with the Curated Connections Library. This is going to be both a video on Facebook, live right now, so if you’re here, go ahead and say hello. We are also going to be scheduling this, posting this as a podcast episode, so if you are listening to this, and you want to watch the live video, you can pop on over to Facebook and see our smiling faces, but we got it a both ways. Thank you, Jennifer, for joining us today.
Jenn: Yeah, of course.
Cindy: Jennifer works with our Class Curator. I actually don’t know if you have an official title, but she writes a lot of our lesson plans. We don’t do titles very well. She writes a lot of the curriculum for the membership, the Curated Connections Library, which is now open right now until January 7th. I thought I would bring Jennifer on to talk about how she uses these materials in her classroom, because she is a live active teacher. First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you, what you teach, and what grades you teach, stuff like that?
Jenn: Sure. I teach seventh through 12th grade in Texas at a small independent school. This is my 11th year teaching. During that time I’ve taught all the way K through 12 and throw a little bit of undergrad stuff in there, too, a few years ago. Yeah, I’ve taught a little bit of everything. I currently teach just kind of foundation courses and then upper level. I have digital art classes and I have AP, as well.
Cindy: Awesome. I’m always amazed when I hear about your classroom, and how many grade levels you have, and all the things that you manage to do.
Jenn: If it wasn’t a small independent school, I don’t think I could do it all.
Cindy: Yeah. You have been a longtime member of the membership. We looked it up before, but now I don’t remember, I think it was 2015 or 2016.
Jenn: I think it was ’16, because it was right after my youngest daughter was born, right as I was coming to this school.
Cindy: Oh, yes. I always track things around when babies were born.
Jenn: Yes. It makes a difference.
Cindy: Hi, Jerry. We have Jerry. If you’re listening to podcast, if you hear me say, “Hi,” to random people, I probably am not going to edit that out. Jerry’s here.
Cindy: Let’s think back to when you joined Art Class Curator, the membership back in 2016, what problem were you looking to solve when you discovered it?
Jenn: Right. Well, like I said, I was moving over to this new school. It was going to be the first time that I had seventh through 12th grade students, all that, just that big broad range. I’d been teaching just high school for several years. Also, I had a three-year-old at the time and then a few-months-old child, whatever time it was, because I just remember it was the summer. She was born in May. Then that summer right before I started, I kind of went into a little bit of panic mode of like, “Okay, how am I going to do this with these two babies, and a new school, and all this huge range of classes, which means range of prompts? What am I going to do, and how am I going to do it all?”
Jenn: I just sat down, and I remember just searching the Web for different things. I had actually bought some other something… I don’t even remember what it was now… but I ended up returning it and getting the Art Class Curator stuff and membership. I started with, I think it was the, it’s whenever you did the art history, it was a course of some sort.
Cindy: Oh, yeah. Mmhmm.
Jenn: Yeah. It started with prehistory and went through Rome or Greece, something like that. Anyway-
Cindy: Yeah, Art Around the World.
Jenn: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I loved that, and that’s kind of what sent me back to get the full membership. I mean, I think the very first lesson that I bought was the aesthetics lesson, and just kind of how to get started with talking about art and getting kids to look at it. That very first year, whenever I brought the lesson in, I remember how amazed I was that the kids really just latched onto the prompts and the questions. They were answering it. I felt confident in what I was teaching, and it didn’t take me tons of time trying to figure it all out. It was there. It was spelled out for me and explained it to me. I was able to take that and take it to my classroom.
Jenn: I still remember standing there. I had all the kids come up, because I had an image, I think it was the Death of Socrates, or Zeus Slaying Holofernes, or both of them. I remember having it projected up on the big screen. I invited all the kids to come up and really, really look at it. I was a little bit afraid of that silence, but I embraced it. I leaned into it, and I learned very quickly how powerful that silence is, just to let me be silent and let the kids speak. I thought, “Okay, this works. This is cool. This is great.” Then that sent me out looking for more things.
Cindy: Awesome. I’m going to post a link in the Chat of the Facebook post, and I also put it in the show notes for the podcast, of the aesthetics lesson, so you can check it out. I am terrible at trying to find links while talking at the same time, so just one second.
Cindy: What that lesson is, just in case you’re curious, is you give the student, actually, it has multiple… I think there’s like three or four different lessons in here, but the main, star one is these puzzles about art. It gives you these scenarios, and then you have to ask your students, is this art or is this not art, based on the scenario. It’s a chimpanzee painter. There’s a-
Jenn: There’s the pile of bricks. There’s the guy sitting in the chair in Times Square. There’s driftwood.
Cindy: Yeah, I see. You’ve looked at it more recently than I have. I’ve taught that one so many hundreds of times, but it’s a really, really fun lesson. I’m going to put the link in here. I am not… Oh, this is it. Sorry. I’m going to put the chimpanzee puzzles one in there. Then if you want the full membership, you can buy it individually, but it’s also in the membership, which is now open. There we go.
Cindy: What I really loved of what you said is that you realized that it was about getting the students to talk. It’s not about what are you going to say, but it’s about leaning into that, getting them to do the talking. I think a lot of what we do in our lessons is to try to facilitate that, because it’s not about the teacher saying all the information and the students receiving it. It’s about the students coming up with that stuff themselves through crafted discussion questions, and activities, things like that. Very cool.
Cindy: Why do you feel it’s important to incorporate more art appreciation into your classroom rather than just studio art?
Jenn: Well, I think it is a great way to broaden students’ minds. I’ve had to have this conversation with kids, because we’ll be looking at a work of art, and they’re like, “Why are we looking at this? We just need to be drawing,” or, “this isn’t art,” or that sort of thing. We have to have the conversation of it gives you more ideas. Art comes in all different forms. It’s not just sitting down in a studio and making things. It gives them a look to see, just an insight about how people are doing things all over the world, and what they’re doing, and how they’re making their voice heard in their artistic expression. I think there’s just a lot with it.
Jenn: The more I dig into things and the more I research about different things, I am fascinated to see how people are creating things all over the world, and from however many thousands of years ago to today, people have this need to create. What they create is fascinating. Everybody does something a little bit different. It’s a nice glimpse into somebody else’s viewpoint, into their soul, or whatever they’re saying. I just think that’s really, really cool, for that brief moment of time, whenever you’re looking at somebody else’s art, that you feel connected to them in some way or another. That can’t always be replicated with just studio.
Jenn: As I was saying before, before I moved over to the school and really started incorporating the Art Class Curator things, it was mainly just studio-based. We might have some artworks thrown in there. I always felt this need to incorporate stuff from around the world. I have this great timeline around my room, and it allowed for that. I would add lots of different things, but we never really talked about them. I mean, at least I was trying to get there. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I guess I’ve always felt this need to incorporate stuff in there, but I think the membership has really given me a reason, and a how to, and that, why. Then I can go, and I can defend it, and I can talk about it either with parents, or with students, or admin, or whatever, like, “This is why I think it’s important. It’s not just I’m putting random weird images in front of their faces. There’s a reason for it.”
Cindy: Yeah. I love that, because a lot of art teachers are not, this is not really talked about at all in-depth in teacher training programs.
Jenn: Not at all.
Cindy: I mean, my certification came with my Master’s. There was an aesthetics and criticism class. My focus was in Art Museum. There was a lot of this sort of stuff, but a regular teacher does not get taught how to do any of this. Even the art history is so limited. You take the two survey classes, but that leaves out-
Jenn: Right. Western art, and that’s it.
Cindy: Yeah. That’s one of the things that we’ve really been working on, is having a really diverse collection of artworks in the membership, because it’s not just, like I talked to on the podcast last week, the dead white guys, it’s people from around the world doing amazing things. I love the way you mentioned that.
Cindy: Hi, Veronica. I want to say, “Hi,” to you. She says she is preparing to teach art appreciation for the first time at the post-secondary level. Congratulations. That is exciting. My very first teaching job was doing just that. It was an art appreciation at a community college. Most of the lessons that I used in that community college class are all in the membership. You have a more logistical question about the membership, which I can ask answer at the end. We’re going to kind of stick to talking about the lessons and the impact on the students, and then I can help you with any logistical-type questions at the end. Welcome to the membership, also.
Cindy: Okay. Socratic seminar. We don’t call it that, but there are a lot, everything in the membership. Okay. Sorry. For those of you listening, I want to make sure that the people listening to podcasts aren’t totally lost. She asks, “Where would I find prompt questions for a Socratic seminar along with lesson suggestions?” Every lesson we have is built with questioning, whether it’s they write it first, and then you talk about it, whether you talk about it first, and then you do an activity. Discussion is the foundation. It is built in. We also have in the membership lessons on how to lead discussions. If you’re not comfortable doing that, we have a whole framework of discussion,, and that is in the membership as well. You can go in and learn how to do it really effectively.
Cindy: We just don’t call it Socratic seminar, because I’ve never really learned what exactly Socratic seminar is. I know it has related questions, but it’s not one of those things that I ever really was taught or thought about. But yes, discussion is a very, very strong component of anything we do, for sure.
Cindy: One of the things that you mentioned, Jenn, is that your class before was very studio-focused, and then now it’s more integrative of art history, and art appreciation, and stuff. Can you tell us a specific story of a lesson or two that went particularly well with your students, that you felt, especially, I love a lot of your stories that reach? You talk about students who are maybe not as engaged in the studio component, becoming really engaged with these other types of activities. Can you give us a few examples of lessons that went well?
Jenn: I’m trying to think. How I’ve been incorporating it more lately, because we have such a weird schedule, and I’ve got a lot of kids missing a lot, so we don’t have tons of time to focus on this and we still need to do a lot of the studio things, is I really focus on the Artwork of the Week. There are times that we’ll have a discussion with it and really talk about it. There are other times that I’ll just kind of share it with them, or maybe I’ll put out, here’s the art of the week. These are your options, and I let them choose how or what they would like to do with it, whether it’s drawing, or writing, or answering questions. I kind of let them choose what they feel most comfortable with.
Jenn: I’ve tried to do… I also moved classrooms. With that, I have this great hallway where I’ve tried to really utilize it. I’ve done a lot with Art of the Week out there in that hallway. We’ll do small activities, and then just go hang them up out in the hallway. We’ll have a poster in the hallway, and then the kids’ responses all around it. I think we did Rodin’s The Thinker. I had them draw or write what he was thinking about. We just stuck it all around the wall. They were hilarious. It was great fun to see where these kids were taking it. Some of them took it really serious, and others, it was just really fun.
Jenn: We also did Sandy Skoglund, the Revenge of the Goldfish. After we talked about it, I had the kids each make a goldfish. We hung them all out in the hallway, so we created our own Revenge of the Goldfish down this hallway. It’s actually a lot of fun to watch, because the doors will open up, and those fish will just swing everywhere. We also have these little pre-K kids that walk through there, and they’re like, “Oh, this is so cool.” It’s fun to see their reactions. It’s silly, but I think they’ll remember it, remember that time that the crazy art teacher made us make these goldfish and fill our hallway with all these goldfish.
Jenn: I thought it was a really neat lesson on Shirin Neshat with her Rebellious Silence. After we talked about it, and I showed him some of the videos of what she was doing, and how she was doing it, and several works in the series, the Women of Allah series, I had them print out their own picture in black and white. They had to write the I Am poem about themselves. We’d done it before. We’d looked at other artwork and they’d written the I Am about that specific artwork, so they knew the format. They knew what to do. I said, “This time I want you to write it about you. You can take it really deep. You can can keep it kind of superficial.”
Jenn: It was really great to see how deep some of these kids think. They got all into cutting up their portraits, because we showed them the entire series of Women of Allah series. It’s her face, her portrait, but she crops it in different ways. She’ll have the firearm in them, which is all symbolic, which we didn’t do anything with firearms. It’s showing how the images were cropped in different ways to make it more dynamic. I had several kids really get into that, and cropping their faces down in different ways, and then writing on it. I let them write in whatever language they wanted. We have a lot of international kids, so cool to see all the different languages.
Jenn: It’s not about me reading it, it’s just about you writing about who you are. I am, I am what? I even had, one of my kids, he wrote it, and it was real superficial or whatever, He didn’t want to do it. I was like, “But this is part of it, whether you think this is art or not.” He’s one that struggles with it. He says, “This isn’t art. This isn’t art.” It’s fun, but we’re going to keep looking at it, because I’m here to help open your mind. Then I saw him later, whenever he finally turned it in. He’d gone back, and scratched out everything that he had written, and rewrote it. It was very, very deep. I ended up sending it to his mom, which was kind of cool. She said, “Oh, this helps kind of with him and things that he’s going through and all that.” It gave this great little insight to the kids, and what they were going through, and what they were feeling, and kind of where they’re at. There are different ways that I’ve incorporated it.
Cindy: Yeah. I love, oh, I came up with so many things to say, like we were talking about. Well, I don’t know what I’m going to say when she’s done, but I’m going to keep listening. I also, in the comments, for those of you watching, and these will also be in the show notes for those who are listening to podcasts, the artworks that she talks about, I’ve typed those into the comments just in case you wanted to refer back. If you are a member, just type those into the search, and you’ll find the lesson that she’s talking about. Then I also put the link to the I Am character poem. It was for a different artwork blog post, but it’s also a free resource on there. You can click on any of those.
Cindy: Okay. Veronica has a good point here, too. She says, “Basically, guessing you are moving towards a broader range of visual art and culture issues.” Yes. I mean, I would say that, but I think that, yeah, we’re not focusing on just traditional Western art. We do art from around the world, a variety of types of media, but it all does fall under the category of art, if that makes sense, of visual art. It’s just we’re not focusing on just the Western traditional dead white guy.
Cindy: Well, I’m completely lost with whatever I was saying. I think we just kind of have to start fresh. Everybody was super inspired by Jenn’s lessons. Oh, your student with the shirt in a shot, I love that every artwork that you put in front of your students, not every student is going to respond to it. That’s why we really promote a wide variety, because he might not have at all connected with the Revenge of the Goldfish, but then he really deeply connected with this other one. It’s going to be another student who deeply connected with Revenge of the Goldfish, but not the other one. I think it’s giving them a wide variety.
Cindy: I love the Artwork of the Week format, because that makes it really, really easy, because we have a tendency to overthink like, “Okay, every artwork we do has to fit with whatever unit we’re doing. How is it going to fit in the sequence?” Then when you start doing that, and you start overthinking, then you just end up cutting it.
Jenn: Yeah. It becomes too much work and just too much.
Cindy: Yeah. If you just pick one every week, it doesn’t have to be related to what you’re doing. I mean, just art for art’s sake moment in your classroom. It becomes a really awesome highlight for your students. It’s like, “Well, what are we going to look at this week?” That’s exciting. In the membership we have, it’s called the Artwork of the Week Bundle. Every month we release four new artworks for that. All of those are in a filterable thing by time period, by gender, by part of the world, so that you can kind of pick and choose what you want to do, but we also give you four every month that you can just take and use, ready to go. Excellent.
Cindy: Now can you talk about your journey on learning to lead a powerful art discussion with your students? When you said you started, it was kind of hard to navigate. Can you talk about how you learned to do that, and how it goes for you now?
Jenn: Well, I think, as someone said, it really was helpful to have questions laid out in the beginning, because whenever I just wasn’t really sure exactly what I was doing or how I was going to do it, the lesson had that kind of step-by-step of these are prompts, these are questions, that you can talk about. I’d carry around my piece of paper, and I’d look at those questions, especially when it got too silent or just kind of didn’t know what to do with it then. Now we just kind of roll with it. I start off with the main two questions of what’s going on here and what do you see that makes you say that. From there, I let the kids take it. I always love how they’ll come up with stuff that I hadn’t even thought of, or hadn’t seen before, or make some kind of connection that had never crossed my mind. We just follow that, and we go for it, and see where it takes us.
Jenn: I’ll look at the questions ahead of time so maybe I kind of have some ideas in my mind if something hasn’t been touched that I think is a really important point or something really cool, then I’ll make sure that I bring that point up or something. Then, like I said, we just kind of roll with it. We’ll discuss, I’ll pull it up on the big screen. I give them little printouts that they stick in their sketchbook. They’ll either write, or draw, or something with it. A lot of times it’s just in their sketchbooks, so not everybody sees it, but every once in a while we’ll do it on a separate sheet of paper and go put it out in the hallway to just get it out there, so that, yes, we are doing more than just some projects and stuff.
Cindy: Yeah, I love how you do that with the sketchbooks. If you all didn’t understand that, they have their sketchbooks. She actually prints out little copies of the artworks that they’re talking about, and they glue them into their sketchbooks. At the end of the year, that’s so cool that they have that memory, that it’s not… They’re going to have it anyway, but a physical representation of that, and they can continually flip through that.
Jenn: Right. I always make them glue it down, and then they have to write the name of the artwork, who did it, and when it was created. Now I’m starting to emphasize more on the part of the world of where it was created. If nothing else, just remember that you’ve seen it, and then you can look up that reference to go back and look at it. I’ve been doing a lot with my AP kids. I’m like, “Okay, I’m giving you artworks to see what other people are doing, that are kind of out there, that are different. These are all references for you to go back and use, especially with the process, how it’s changed.” They want this process journal. I’m like, “Well, I’m giving you these different resources to think about through your process. Reference them, use them, figure out what else you can do. What idea might it spark to send you in a different direction?
Cindy: That’s cool.
Jenn: That’s how we’ve been using it.
Cindy: Do you do the same artwork per week for all of your classes?
Jenn: Yeah. I just have, this is the Art of the Week this week. I have it sitting up on my desk. They know Monday morning, they just start grabbing them. Sometimes if on weeks that maybe we don’t have a big discussion, they just get it at some point, and they know that it’s due by the end of the week. I’ll have my poster, because I’ll print out a bigger poster, kind of 11 by 17, of the artwork in color, and the name of the artwork, who did it, year, location, stuff like that. They at least have that reference. Last year it was great, because I printed everything in color. They had these great colorful little pictures all through their book. We don’t get to do that this year. I did it a little bit.
Jenn: Then once we’re done with it for the week, I take it, and I put it out in the hallway. I’m getting this entire gallery going in that awesome hallway of just different things. I’ve had people make comments of, “Oh, I’ve seen that. Oh, I remember that,” stuff like that. People who have no idea what’s going on. We have a lot of tours that go through our school, so it’s great to put all that stuff up to, “Hey, look at what we’re doing.” It’s good for the school, too. Parents come in or anybody else to see that there are more things going on than sitting and drawing all day.
Cindy: Yeah. It’s so cool. What an impact. You think about the teachers that are walking by, the admins. Everybody is being impacted by the art, because I would think they would have to just stop and look, just to see, “Oh, what did they do? What did they do this week?” They probably make it a point to come check it out at some point, because then those teachers are making art connections.
Jenn: I’ve printed out posters for other teachers. The same thing, just a second copy, and they go put it in their classroom, because it applies to Spanish, or World History, or whatever else they’re talking about.
Cindy: Yeah. Another thing that Jenn does, which I think is really cool, is she features all of the writing, and the poems, and the different things in her art shows and stuff, too. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Jenn: Yeah. It kind of came about last year. I had a teacher wanting, or I guess it was parent who is putting together or helping with an art show, and she wanted to do some kind of rolling PowerPoint presentation to go on the background while the band, or orchestra, or whoever was playing, something like that. I was like, “Well, I don’t really have tons of this, but, hey, what if we use this stuff out of our sketchbooks?” All year long where we’d been printing their picture, or putting the picture down, and then adding all these questions, and different writings and poems and stuff. She just went through, and photographed a whole bunch, and put them up there. People were reading all the kids’ writings and thoughts as the concert was happening. I thought, “Oh, this is kind of a cool idea.”
Jenn: I have them pick out one or two of their best, favorites, whatever they liked, or they could come up with something new. They had to print it out and add it with their stuff for them, because we have two Fine Arts nights, one in December and one in April. They pick something, and then they format it really nice, and print it out, and hang it with their artwork. They have to talk about it. They have to defend their stuff, everything that they’ve been doing at the Fine Arts night. They have to record themselves, so part of it is talking about what did they do, and what did they learn, and what did they see. It’s just a fun different way to say, “Yeah, we do more than just put some crafts together as some people would think. Yes, we do write. Yes, we do think, and there’s a lot more to it,” which I think is great. The English teachers love it. They’re like, “Oh, look, you’re writing poetry.” I’m like, “Yep, we do it, too.” It’s much more cross-curricular than you realize.
Cindy: Yeah. I love it. I think I want to ask you two questions. I’m trying to decide which one is safer. Your membership in the Curated Connections Library benefits your students and even your community, we just kind of talked about that, and then yourself. How would you say that the membership has benefited your students?
Jenn: I think it’s just given them a new way of looking at things to help them kind of open their mind a little bit about what is considered art and just allow them to be curious and to question things. Even with the puzzles, is this art? Well, it’s great to have those debates and discussions, but I think it just gets them looking at things more, and just in different ways than they did before, and being exposed to more than the dead white guys, in different cultures around the world, and how they do things, and maybe what inspired something else. Yeah, I think it helps complete their education to where you’re educating more of the entire child, the whole child, versus just one specific thing.
Jenn: Now, we’re reaching into cross-curricular stuff. If that’s a huge thing at your school, it’s already laid out for you. It’s an easy way to incorporate writing. I know I hear a lot of schools are really incorporating writing into every single subject. This is an easy way to do it, that shows that higher-level thinking, that you may not get in just a strict studio course. You’re going to get the higher-order thinking whenever you’re thinking about art and doing certain things. This just gives it another level. It just makes it a little bit deeper and a whole new way of looking at things where maybe they didn’t have that before.
Cindy: Awesome. That was the benefits to the community and the students. How has your membership benefited you personally as a teacher?
Jenn: It’s given me a lot more of my time back. I remember those nights before. On Sunday night, all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh, I guess I really have to think about what I’m going to do Monday morning.” Nine o’clock at night when I need to be going to bed, I would sit up, and I would start researching, start thinking. I’m like, “Oh, okay,” kind of throw something together. But now going in, especially focusing on the Artwork of the Week, I know what’s going to happen Monday morning, and the kids know what’s going to happen Monday morning. Even if I can’t wrap my hand around the rest of the week or something, I’ve got Monday morning planned, and we can kind of go from there. I think it’s taken a lot of the pressure off.
Jenn: Especially with the Art of the Week, it’s nice that you could take it as far as you want. You can leave it with just looking at the artwork, and doing a quick something or another, or you can take it all the way through, and do a really cool project, and turn it into something much larger that would take more than just a few minutes or a day or two. It’s nice that it’s got that flexibility.
Jenn: With the wealth of resources, if I have some kind of idea, I find myself going to the website and just typing something in to see what I can find. Most of the time, there is something there, and somehow I’m able to connect it, to use it, learn it, incorporate it. Or even if I want to learn more about something, maybe there was a question that came up during the day from a student or something, I’m like, “Hmm, let’s go check it out, and see what else I can find, and learn more about it myself.” It’s been really nice. I’m not having to stay up at school figuring out lesson plans. I know what’s happening. I’m there for other reasons, but not for lesson planning.
Cindy: All the other things.
Jenn: Yeah, all the other things. It gives me time to focus on those other things, and get them done, where I’m not having to take it home. That’s been huge.
Cindy: I love the strategy of having all of the students from the whole day do the same artwork all on Monday. That is, I mean, you’re not just saving yourself one planning period, or one lesson, that’s however many classes you teach that day. That’s one less lesson you have to plan that week. Think about the cumulative effect of that.
Jenn: It’s huge. It’s nice that it builds on the different classes throughout the day. You’ll be like, “Oh, well, this class brought up this. Have you thought about this,” or, “with this class when you,” so it’s great to see that building with the students.
Cindy: I had never thought about this before, but it creates a common vocabulary among all of your students on your campus that everybody who’s in… Do all of your kids take art?
Jenn: No. They’re able to take other things, band and other stuff.
Cindy: You have that sixth grader or seventh grader look at the same artwork that a ninth grader did. They can always have that sort of connection, which I think is really cool. Love that.
Cindy: Okay. Let me think if there’s any follow-up questions I have about that. I don’t think so. What do you think is, for someone who’s considering joining, but they’re on the fence, what would you say to them?
Jenn: I would say it’s definitely worth it. It has really changed how I teach. Like I said, it gave me a whole lot of time back. I think it helped make the lessons that I do teach from day-to-day, or week, or whenever, I think it makes them more powerful where the kids are able to connect with things, and then take that, and use that, in their own life, in their own work. Like I said, with the one kid who scratched the poem out after we’re looking at the Shirin Neshat work, and writing on his own face, it gave this deep meaning with all these things that he’d been going through that I had not a clue. As soon as I read them, “Oh, this explains so much about this kid and some of the things that he’s going through.” I think for him, whether he considered it art or not, he was able to get that deeper meaning with it. Where before I started using these kinds of things, it wasn’t there. We’d make cool pieces, but I feel like there’s just a bigger connection.
Jenn: It makes me more aware of the world around me. It makes me excited to go see different artworks in different shows, exhibits, whatever. Purposefully, we’ll go to galleries now, where I didn’t before. I’m like, “Oh, I know what this is. I understand what they’re doing.” For me, I definitely think it helped with my teaching. I just have a greater understanding of what I was teaching, and a greater appreciation of different things that are happening around the world, and artists response to that.
Jenn: Yeah, it’s had a lot of impact on me, more than just my teaching. I think it’s important now to take my daughters to museums and stuff and see where they’re getting. I’m starting them young on that sort of thing. I don’t know that that would’ve happened if I hadn’t have gotten connected with all this. It’s very personal to me. I really appreciate all the things that are happening and how much it has just helped me, not only in my teaching, just been in my personal journey. I can think about artworks and connect with artworks that I’d never thought about before. Yeah. It’s been really great. It’s been a huge factor.
Cindy: That’s amazing, as I wipe my tears away. Oh, god, that’s beautiful, because I think, it’s a lot more than just saving time. It’s this infusion of meaning that is just added to your life. It’s not just-
Jenn: To understand the why. Why do I get up and teach this every day? Yeah, I know art’s important. Yeah. Okay, but why? Why do I feel so strongly and passionate about it? You’ve helped me get my why.
Cindy: Oh, god. Okay. I did. That was last week. That was the last podcast episode, was figuring out your why, because that does it. It makes your whole life, your whole job easier if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. You wake up every morning seeing the world through that lens. Yeah, I totally lost my voice because that was really wonderful. A wonderful, actually, way to end, as well.
Cindy: If you want to add that joy to your life, if you want to find meaning, and connect your students to art, and connect yourself with art, we are excited to welcome you into the Curated Connections Library. Membership is open until January 7th. It closes at midnight Pacific, 11:59 Pacific, on January 7th. We only open a couple of times a year, because we like to spend our time writing these lessons and making these connections. The link to join, if you are interested in joining, is artclasscurator.com/join. We would love to have you. If you have still any questions about the membership, you can send us an email at supportartclasscurator.com. Also, there’s a chat box in the bottom of that, artclasscurator.com/join that will send us a message, too. We’re here to answer any questions that you have. Thank you so much for listening to this interview. Thank you so much to Jenn for sharing her experience. I think that’s it. All right. Thank you so very much.
Cindy: Thank you so much for listening to the Art Class Curator Podcast. Help more art teachers find us by reviewing the podcast and recommending it to a friend. Get more inspiration for teaching art with purpose by subscribing to our newsletter, Your Weekly Art Break. Recent topics include the importance of seeing art in person, famous and should-be-famous women artists, and 21 days of art from around the world. Subscribe at artclasscurator.com/artbreak to receive six free art appreciation worksheets. This week’s art quote is from Chuck Klosterman. He says, “Art and love are the same thing. It’s a process of seeing yourself and things that are not you.” Thanks so much for listening. Have a wonderful week.
Thanks for listening! Have an idea for an episode topic or think you may be a great guest for the show? Click here to send us an email telling us about it.