While activists are taking to the streets around the world to protest racial inequality, we’re opening up about our company values and the importance of diversity and inclusion at Art Class Curator.
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 delight to 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.
Hello, everybody. It’s Cindy Ingram. I know it has been awhile since my last podcast recording. Maybe a month or two. I don’t exactly remember. Today is going to be kind of like one of those last ones where I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to say, but I know that I have some things to process. I got some feedback from the podcast I did from my bathroom about the pandemic that people appreciated, that I just kind of came on and started talking. So that’s what I’m going to do right now.
I haven’t been recording podcasts mainly because I didn’t know exactly what to say when everybody’s jobs are turned upside down and everybody’s worlds have completely changed because of the pandemic and because of everybody working from home, teaching from home, and that sort of thing. We offered the distance learning curriculum, we did the Call to Art conference, so I feel good about the service that we did do.
But now we’re in another situation where everything is turned on its head with the killing of George Floyd. I’m going to tear up. I’m certain of it. I already am. And all of the rioting that’s going on in the United States. I think we’re all in another situation where we know we have things to say, but we’re not exactly sure what to say, and so that’s what I’m going to do here.
I have been processing for days waves of rage, and in grief, and tears kind coming out of nowhere, and I now recognize that that’s my privilege in that this is not a new feeling for a lot of people in this world. It’s not necessarily a new feeling for me, but I’m so encouraged to see voices speaking up from people that I never hear this sort of stuff from. In my sort of conservative Texas area everyone I know is speaking up and it’s encouraging to me to see that.
I’m at a point where I’m running a business and having a lot of conversations about do we sell right now? We need to sell to keep the business running. We need to sell to make the difference that we want to make on the world. But it’s also like we want to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to stand up for what’s right. So it is in our company values of Art Class Curator, and I should open them right now, find that file, I should have had them opened up in advance, that we stand for diversity and we stand for other voices. Not other, but you know, everyone’s voices. And that as we are looking to what we’re doing next, we are making sure we lean even more into those company values, that what we do is everything in our power to stand for Black Lives Matter, to stand for equity and diversity and inclusion in this world.
So how we’re going to do that this month, the month of June, is that we are going to devote all of our content to issues of race and celebrating Black artists and celebrating and engaging in conversations related to white privilege and race and what we can do, what every person can do, to further this cause. So we have picked some artworks we’re going to feature. Artworks that challenge. Artworks that make you think. Artworks that make you uncomfortable.
We are doing a book club to talk about the book For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too, which I just recently bought a few months ago and I hadn’t started reading it yet. So we’re going to be talking about that book. So if you want to join that book club, you can go to the show notes and get the link. We’re going to do a Facebook group to talk about it as well as a Zoom call on June 24th, 2020.
Then we’re going to do our monthly membership curriculum guide that we write every third week of every month, we release. We’re going to do that on this topic as well.
I’ve said it before in other podcasts that I think white fragility exists from a place of… From a lot of places. But from one of the places that it exists is people are scared to say the wrong thing, that they’re scared they’re going to say something wrong and people are going to get mad at them. They’re scared they’re going to offend. They’re scared and so they just don’t say anything at all. I’ve seen this play out in all sorts of ways over the last few years in running this business and I’ve kind of stuck my fork in the ground. What is it? Fork in the ground? Foot in the ground? I don’t know.
Well, I’m sticking something in the ground, I don’t know what it is, that I’m no longer going to censor what I say to appease everyone. That there is no way to appease everyone, so I need to speak for my heart and for my values and from what I believe to be right. I know that I’m going to say something wrong and I have to learn to learn from that. I have to learn to live in that uncomfortable place. I have to learn to deal with that anxiety that comes from always wanting to be perfect and always wanting to be right.
One of my business friends said today in a meeting we were in that you have to be willing to be sore to get stronger. You know, when you’re starting an exercise plan, you have to be willing to be sore. I feel like that’s kind of what’s happening with these sorts of conversations. You have to be willing to get sore to get better at this. You have to be willing to have the conversation and to get in the ring and to rumble with these ideas if you’re going to make any sort of progress.
So that’s what we’re doing here. I just kind of wanted to say it out loud. Emails can be… We’ve been sending emails about this sort of thing, but it’s one thing to say it and to type it and to make it pretty and another thing to just kind of come out and just talk. So I just wanted to say that that is my commitment to you, to not shy away from the conversations that need to be had. It is my commitment to learn all I need to learn to make myself stronger. That means getting sore and that means being uncomfortable, but I’m going to read the books and the articles and talk about them, and I invite you to do that with me. It’s very important to us.
I finally got my values open. I was talking and trying to click and open to it at the same time. But the four values of Art Class Curator, just as a reminder to you, and actually you’ve probably never seen these because this is an internal document right now, but are diversity and open-mindedness. We feel that art is universal as all, I’m just reading from the values, art is universal as its artists are unique. We believe our lives, our team, and our community are better when we listen and raise voices and opinions from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. We’re committed to diversity and inclusion in the programs we create and the team that we build.
That’s the first one on our list. Then we also have, unrelated, but I might as we’ll tell you the rest of them, is joy and delight. It says, paint fades, pencils break, life is short. We believe in spending the time we have immersed in joy and delight, personally, professionally, and all the moments in between. We’ve seen the power of joy and delight as a spark for deeper learning in the classroom and we know the importance of keeping that spark lit throughout our lives. We’re committed to creating a workplace culture that’s positive, fulfilling, and bright with joy and delight.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re keeping things on the surface. I think that joy comes from a deep place of groundedness. It comes from knowing that you’re doing the very best that you… I’m tearing up again. You’re doing the very best that you can in all the areas of your life and that you can feel good about the contribution that you’re making in the world.
To me, when I am speaking for my truths and when I am living according to my values, that that is where the joy comes from. The joy doesn’t come from just having a few drinks with friends, the joy comes from sort of this deep satisfaction. So we want a place of joy, and I think you can’t have the joy and you can’t have the delight if you don’t have the uncomfortable feelings too, or that integrity to your values and your truth.
Our third value is connection and authenticity. Connecting with an artwork can change the course of a life. Connecting with people is the core meaning of life’s journey. We’re committed to being honest and real with one another. Each of us will stumble and fail. We fail these losses as a team so that we can learn, grow, and rise together.
So it’s really important for me to come in here and just post this podcast. I, honestly, as I’m talking, I’m like, oh shit, I shouldn’t post this. This is making no sense whatsoever. But you know what? I’m going to do it, because I just read that value of connection and authenticity and so I’m going to post it. Even if I sound like a crazy person as I’m talking because I keep breaking into tears.
Okay. Our fourth company value is passion and spirit. Most of humanity’s best artworks are born from a deep well of emotion. Our passion for art, our team, and our community enlivens our spirit, fuels our best ideas, and keeps us going when we fail. When we’re tapped into our passion, others are inspired by our spirit. We are committed to keeping that passion alive on our team so that we can empower our community to be the best at what they do – teaching and nurturing students while igniting a love for art that will transform generations.
You know, we wrote those and we live by them in our normal work, and haven’t yet sent that out anywhere. But I just wanted to tell you those to tell you our commitment and that we are committed to having this conversation. So if you have ideas on how we can do this better, if you have ideas on things you would like to see, we would love to hear about it.
But in the meantime, I would love for you to participate in our book club. Go to the Facebook Group Art Class Curator Book Club, and then you’ll get all the information there. There’s a Zoom call you can register for that is in your email if you’re on our email list, and you can also access it via the Facebook Group that you should be able to pull up in a search.
So, okay. Well, thank you so much for hanging out and listening to me today. I am committed to making more podcasts. I took a little bit of break, especially because all the people in my house. You can probably hear my kids eating in the other room and you can hear my dog clicking around, walking around. His claws on the floor always shows up in my recordings.
But we at Art Class Curator are here to have rich deep conversations with art, with each other, to make us better teachers so that we can impact the world. We are not here for anything more than that. I’m glad that you’re here with us. I’m glad that you are as passionate about this stuff as we are. We will carve out the future through art that can make us proud and that we can know that we have made a difference in this life on our students, on the community. Every student that we reach, every conversation that we have that makes us uncomfortable, those things are ripples through this world. I’m grateful that I get to do that with you guys.
So thank you for listening. I will talk to you all later. Bye.
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Today’s art quote comes from Marina Abramovic, and she says, “Art must be life. It must belong to everybody.”
Thank you so much for listening. Have a great day.