An Art Teacher’s Perspective

“The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.” – Auguste Rodin

Morning in the art room begins about the same each week… sunlight (1) 

Sunlight streams through the windows, creating little spotlights and cool shadow patterns on the classroom plants and stacks of painted paper. Muffled sounds of morning greetings and an occasional hum of music or intercom voices interrupt the air of anticipation.  There are clinks of brushes and pencils, the rustle of paper, or the dull thunk of crayons as the artist prepares for the day ahead.  
Soon, the door will open and students and teachers will be greeted. Soon, little excited arms will be pulled through painting smocks, and hands will reach for pencils, paint, or other supplies laid out for the day’s project.  As the class continues, voices talk rapidly and hands and minds work with excitement… so much excitement, teachers have to quiet the room.  Everyone leans over their work and soon sounds of amazement and pride begin to build. Words like “awesome,” or “beautiful” fill the room.   Encouragement and direction is given to those who may not be so sure.  Everyone gets caught up in the magic and inspiration of the moment.  Before anyone realizes, it is time to put the supplies away and line up.  There is motion and noise as the students find their place in line and wave goodbye, proudly clutching their creations, or reluctantly leaving the ones that need to dry.  The next class is waiting in the hall ready to take their turn… Passionate to learn… Passionate to create.
So many questions… What is this passion for art?  What is this idea of creativity, this spark of inspiration that captivates our attention?   Why is it so important for our children to have art in school?  What is the magic that pulls us to keep returning to this place of joy and possibility?
It is the same passion that drives us at Art Road to bring art classes back to school.
What started as an awareness for some many years ago, soon grew to be a mission for a few, and now has become a passion for so many. It is a contagious passion of inspiration.
Some schools feel like they cannot afford to offer art, however, art in education is not disposable.  Art is, in fact, so important that we cannot afford to let slip through our hands and away from the next generation.  This inspiration that begins as a tiny spark is often passed on to another and becomes a fire of creativity, burning brightly.
Last week, while in class, a first grade student commented that he already knew what to do with the paper weaving project.  It turns out that his brother had been in a class the week before with the same project, and had enjoyed it so much that he taught his younger sibling when he got home.     Amazing!
Nothing speaks more to the power of art, than one person, so inspired, that they in turn become the teacher.  Through action or images, they are able to share ideas with another person.
The mix of color on a paint brush or little hands learning new skills, the texture of clay, or the scratch of charcoal on paper, it is all a part of the process.   Each element of the creative process adds to the strength and skill of young minds and the formulation of ideas.  
Over the years at Art Road we have witnessed this power of creativity.  We have witnessed many moments of wonder and amazement.  From the drawing of a line or the mixing of color, to the collaboration of an entire community that believes in the power of art and the potential of the next generation to succeed. We have seen students build confidence, self esteem, and the ability to express themselves.  We have seen the growth of ideas, and watched a young artist discover a skill they never imagined they had.  Art has allowed us to support schools, and to team with the classroom teachers to collaborate on projects inspired by the classroom curriculum.  We have had moments of tears, where art becomes a place to let out sadness or frustration.  We have seen beautiful moments of magic, where strangers from all walks of life become friends over watercolor paint and crayons. We have created… turning cans of aluminum into bright sculptures, bins of plastic junk (found on the shores of the Great Lakes) into exhibits inspiring others to create art and recycle.  These collaborations continue to reach out, long after the project is complete.   We have shared lots of laughter and happy, sunlit moments.  This is just the beginning…
There is an undeniable impact that art has on us.  It reaches into every corner and aspect of our lives.  It keeps us returning over and over, because we can’t imagine a world without art,
and because we have in our hands, the ability to meet the need that we see.
Art is Life…. Art is forever… Art is everything.   One child at a time, one project at a time.