The Arts, and Education
Venturing into college nearly six years ago, I always remembered hearing, “do what you love!” “A job you enjoy doing doesn’t feellike work!” “Great work comes from doing something you love!” After pondering a few different paths and indulging into some deep self-reflection, it just felt right to become an Art student. Between fostering my abilities, stretching my thoughts, and following the lead of some inspirational professors, this is where I feel I truly started the rest of my life.

After four years of being an Art student which entailed many studio classes, hours of peer critique, learning different processes, achieving success, succumbing to failure, and finding what kind of artist I want to be, the realm of education and teaching interested me. I’ve always felt I was a born leader and instructor, being the oldest of three other siblings, and felt teaching would be a natural thing to me. I applied to the School of Education here at the University of Montana, and then being accepted shortly after, I was roped in to two more years of college.

Upon nearing the end of my college career, I have been looking back on my learned knowledge and experiences here at the University. After some reflection, I have come to acknowledge three different faces I have played here in these six attending years. I have been the art student and educator, the fine artist, and the community artist. Although obviously linked through the broad subject of Art, these are hands that can be played very differently with varying aims and focuses. I believe that the main goals of being both an art student and art educator rely on fundamentals and processes of Art encompassing how to do, how to make, and how to see Art. While being the art student, you are learning how materials work, how to achieve a wanted outcome, and how to properly plan out ideas. As the teacher of these students, you are helping them along these processes, and fostering their abilities and budding ideas. In return, these roles don’t focus solely on the outcome, but look at the finished product to represent what they have learned and what they would take from that to further their artistic knowledge.

Being a Fine Artist can be looked at as the graduating step beyond the student, naturally. One has already learned what kind of Art interests them and how to achieve that wanted process. The artist’s focus is now on the finished product; how it is going to look, what it is going to say to viewers, and what viewers are going to interpret from the artist’s own personal expression. Thoughts about exhibitions in galleries and perhaps even a specific clientele are frequenting the fine artist’s brain. This is commonly a solo endeavor that manifests and unfolds in the Artist’s head daily.

This last facet is one that I have recently discovered, and feel so lucky to be able to watch this beautiful process unfold within my Ceramics II class. After viewing some inspirational techniques from other community artists, we conjured up our own strategies to expand the art of ceramics outside the walls of our studio. Community artists do just this; create art in whatever process and medium appropriate, and place the art in places beyond studios, galleries, and exhibitions. They are placed in the sight of common meeting areas, busy walkways, and favorite rest stops. Places where not only Art involved people are; places where the whole community has the chance to stumble across it. This art may have a subtle statement, common idea, personal opinion, or an awareness to share. Community art speaks to the people, and can have the power to open up a piece of the viewer that they have never explored before.