Two weeks ago today, I was on a plane, flying from New Orleans back to Columbus. I had spent the previous three days meeting with other museum educators, art teachers, administrators and artists at the National Art Education Association’s 2015 National convention. My stomach was roiling with half a cup of airplane coffee and my head was absolutely swimming with conversations, ideas, things I saw, things I heard and new connections between it it all.
While I was only in New Orleans for the Museum Ed. pre-conference and one day of sessions, it’s probably good I didn’t go to more, as over a week later I’m still in the thick of processing, reflecting and synthesizing all of the conversations.
During our last day in NOLA, a dear friend and former colleague asked my co-worker Steph and I, “So, What’re your big take-aways? Cause you know you’re going to be asked when you get back.” Had I really tried to form an answer right then and there, I’m pretty sure my big idea would have been, ‘beignets are superior to donuts’ or something equally as meaningful.
Even now, I’m still churnning through notes, catching up on sleep and rehydrating (talking to strangers + 80degree temperatures in March had me in a perpetual state of ‘DAMP’), and trying to suss out not just what was most interesting/relevant, but what it means for me in practice. While I can’t say what my biggest takeaway was or even just how many I have- there were a few big ideas and essential questions that have rose to the surface. I’ll get to the rest in time, but first and foremost was the need for real, open conversation, within conversation, the importance of articulation and, for me personally, that old itch of improving my capacity to mull things out in the quiet public/private space of the written word.
So why am I rambling about this here?
I’ve been slowly carving out this space online for almost 6 years. That’s 1 year longer than I’ve known the love of my life, 2 years longer than I’ve known how to cook and nearly 3 years longer than I’ve fallen sideways into education. If this blog were a person, she’d be reading and writing, ready for school. From time to time I have an existential crises about it all, leave for a bit, and come back. I always find a ‘why’ for me to keep writing, but NAEA has me wondering if my own ‘whys’ are enough. The question isn’t just ‘why should I write here for myself,’ but also ‘why should I write here where you can see it and what’s in it for you?’
Whether you’ve been reading from the 1st days of portfolio/show promotions or you’re new, I want to invite you to start responding- Not with affirmations or quick encouragement (though those too are wonderful and make me feel all warm and fuzzy), but with your real thoughts, ideas, answers and questions. For my part, I promise to try and give you questions and ideas of my own that are worthy of provoking a response, and to value your words, to really listen, to join the conversation just as thoughtfully, and we’ll all grow smarter together. You in?
[As I open this dialogue, despite the disclaimer on the right sidebar, I feel the need to make another, more explicit and intentional disclaimer: While I work for, and sometimes write for the Columbus Museum of Art, there’s a weight that comes from writing ‘for’ an institution. While CMA is my home base, and while there are many wonderful, like-minded people who share many similar philosophies that influence my own (and whom I will give credit when I inevitably pull from their brains) this space is my own. My words (especially if they provoke or offend) are my own and in no way reflect the institution, or even my department as a whole.
Also, despite this addition of the and shift towards dialogue and pull towards learning, I am a teaching artist and thoroughly incapable of living compartmentally. Expect the regular non-sequiturs, in-progress studio shots and cat nonsense to continue.]