It’s exhausting defending arts education. Last year I decided to seek out support from other folks fighting this fight, and found MICA’s Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) program. I was immediately drawn to the program’s holistic approach, connecting studio practice to teaching while making close observations of that work through qualitative research. For the past six weeks I have been in Baltimore working with some amazing artist-educator-researchers. My professors helped us build an incredible community where we felt safe taking risks and experimenting with new artmaking and teaching techniques.
This year I’ll be bringing what I’ve learned to Brightworks as their Middle School Collaborator. Through the unit I designed this summer, I hope to empower my students to make close observations of Earth’s resources to understand that they are a part of a global community. Throughout the year I’ll be conducting qualitative research on the ways in which my students make connections between art, science, and self. I can’t think of a better place than Brightworks to research how arts integration strategies might help me and my students co-create a positive learning and making community. Next summer I’ll return to Baltimore to analyze my research through a final report, and present those findings in an article I’ll be submitting to Art Education Journal.
I’ll also be working with my cohort and studio mentor to build a body of work for a thesis exhibition next summer. I am so excited to be learning and making alongside my students. I have always seen my studio practice and teaching practice as a sort of infinity loop, with the two constantly influencing one another. I did a lot of experimenting with my own artmaking this summer in ways that got me empathizing with my students. My studio mentor encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone, and that got me thinking about the ways I can better support risk-taking in my classroom.