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Teach What You Know

September 6, 2012

Often we overlook that the teacher who taught us papier-mâché, to see through a camera lens, or draw a still life, balances a professional artistic career away from the classroom.  Rosewood Gallery’s exhibition Art Ed 2012: An Art Educators Exhibition focuses on that endeavor.  Now in its second year, Art Ed celebrates the art created by over fifty Dayton region artists/educators. From university professors to public school teachers to community center educators, a range of work is on view, including ceramics, painting, jewelry, textiles, photography, printmaking, and mixed media in representational and abstract forms.

Daniel McInnis, Andrea,  chromogenic print

The photograph Andrea by Wittenberg University professor Daniel McInnis is a rich technical and psychological portrait of a young woman, realized through large-format photography with an ode to masterful contemporary portrait photographers including Rineke Dijsktra. McInnis, who received a BFA and MFA in photography, has been teaching for years.  From a family of educators, teaching appealed to McInnis early on in his career as a photographer.  He wrote “Teaching provides energy…I think it’s in my DNA to want to pass the knowledge to a new generation.”

Sarah Puckett, Wedding Day, oil on canvas

Sarah Puckett, an art instructor at Centerville High School and co-owner of RUA Gallery, was also influenced by her family—her mother was a teacher—and knew that teaching was a part of her career path alongside artmaking.  “I choose to teach because I have a high priority on investing in the next generation,” said Puckett. “Teaching art is more than teaching someone how to draw…or how to paint, but more of how to see the world, how to deal with the circumstances life brings your way, and how to enjoy every day we have been given through a creative lens.”  Puckett’s painting Wedding Day depicts an Indian woman caught in a moment of contemplation, surrounded by bright colors and geometric patterns, a part of Puckett’s interest in exploring color psychology and the different cultural rituals.

Balancing the demands of the classroom and the studio can be challenging. “It’s tough,” McInnis said. “Depending on the program, higher education is requiring more and more of full-time faculty, and with increasing costs, students and their parents demand more. Since my practice requires searching out and scheduling subjects…and traveling…it is a time-consuming and expensive practice.”  Even with seasonal breaks and schedules that teeter outside of the year-round 9 to 5 pm business hours, finding energy to create new work is a necessity.  Puckett wrote, “After helping 120 students make creative decisions every day, I am usually exhausted when I get home and do not have much left to offer my own artwork. Luckily, I have the weekends to catch up.”

Shon Walters, the numerically wrong legged daddy long legs with clodhoppers on #4, canarywood, cocobola

Another high school instructor, Shon Walters, teaches at Stivers School for the Arts and finds inspiration in the interaction he has with students. He said, “I like to be involved in some capacity with the amazing talent that passes through there.”  Walters’ sculpture the numerically wrong legged daddy long legs with clodhoppers on #4 is a carved wood desktop sculpture in the form of an abstracted spider—and its monstrous-like fangs act as drawer pulls.

Bridgette Bogle, an abstract painter, is part of the faculty at Sinclair Community College.  Bogle’s work Barrier is based on the signage on Sinclair’s campus and her surrounding environment, depicting colorful shapes and thick painterly textures. When completing her undergraduate degree, Bogle did not originally intend to teach; her first career path was working in administration for a nonprofit alongside creating her studio practice.  Realizing the administrative path was not inspiring for her, Bogle entered a MFA program to gain teaching experience.  She wrote that although it was “nerve-wracking, it also felt right…it helped me recognize that this was a good path for me.”

Bridgette Bogle, Barrier, oil on canvas

Recognizing the dedication these artists/educators have, both in and out of the classroom, is a clear demonstration of their passion for the arts.  In the case of Art Ed, the value these educators place on their own practice is clearly demonstrated in the artwork on view.  Teaching can fuel the studio practice, as described by Puckett, “I have learned more from my students than they have learned from me.” Bogle also finds great encouragement in working with her students.  “Being an instructor is an amazing privilege, you get to soak up some of that energy that happens when someone is first figuring out a technique or concept,” she writes. “I can always tell that I’ve had a good class when I want to immediately go home and paint.”

Art Ed 2012 is on view through September 14th at Rosewood Gallery in Kettering.  These artists/educators, as well as several educators from the Rosewood Arts Centre program, have work on view.  Learn more at gallery.ketteringoh.org.

Originally published in the September 4, 2012 edition of the Dayton City Paper.

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