art as a way of life



I had a completely different post started and almost finished, but I came home from my last Central Wyoming College class entitled Art as a Way of Life and felt compelled to write. I co-taught a section of the class with Babs Case, blending visual projects with movement exercises and exploration. The students-nine in total-also got instruction in visual arts and art history from Jenny Dowd and theater and writing from Bob Berky over the course of the semester.

Art as a Way of Life. The semester was an exploration of concepts such as line, shape, positive/negative space, metaphor and pathways and how they intersect and are relevant whether you are holding a paintbrush, moving across a dance floor, or writing a paragraph.  But as Babs and I traveled through our section with the students it became about a whole lot more, for teacher and student alike, the roles blending, as they so often can. I would leave the classes completely spellbound and enraptured by the creative process, by the release of viewing it as an opportunity to simply play rather than a difficult endeavor to tackle. The students enthusiasm, willingness to try, trust in one another, and complete lack of inhibition were strong reminders of how, as artists and as humans, we can all practice these traits and come out a whole lot wiser and inspired in the end.  Making art doesn’t have to be so scary. You just have to go, as one student put it.

Lessons. The double standard of telling a student, whether in sixth grade or an adult just entering the realm of art-making, to explore and see what happens and then visiting your own studio and not whispering those words to yourself were so blatant and obvious.  The inspiration from these Thursday night sessions allowed me to see my patterns as an artist, how I speak about my art and myself, in different ways. The shift of watching one student go from saying he was not an artist to completely letting go and remaining open across the boundaries of visual and performance art was a powerful lesson in humbleness and trust.

As we sat around the circle tonight in our last class, sharing and reflecting on the past twelve weeks with one another, it hit me so strongly that this is what art is about, this is the power of its capability and influence, its true purpose and essence.  Bringing people together, enjoying one another’s creativity, insights and approaches, allowing the formalized setting of an art class (or any class) to disappear and the magic of exploration and imagination to come creeping in.  Realizing that these creativity lessons are also life lessons. That art is life, always surrounding us and pulsing.




One Comment on “art as a way of life

  1. I attended the last class to see the presentation by the students. The closeness of each of the students to each other and their new found confidence reinforced the importance of education and art. Throughout the past 4 months, student after student came in to tell me they wanted more art classes just like the “Art as a way of Life” class. I heard repeatedly that this course was changing how they saw themselves and their lives. Creativity and openness to our world around enriches and brings an excitement to how we can interact in life. Jenny, Babs, Bob and Alyssa have introduced a way of seeing to each of these nine students that they will carry with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>