Blog Posts for for artists

The Controversy of ‘Artist as Philanthropist’: When giving art away is okay

Posted by Ms. Sarah M. Berry, Apr 17, 2014 2 comments

SarahBerry headshot Sarah Berry

Artwork IS work. That is the credo many artists inherit. Artists learn not to give away their art or services, and good art lovers should know not to ask. Yet all artists have been approached to donate to a charity auction or volunteer to photograph an event, usually with the promise of great exposure and a free meal. But even an emerging, hungry, do-gooder artist like me knows the “I give it away for free” brand of exposure can be a slippery slope. A few rounds of generosity could gain me the reputation as an “artist philanthropist” and the requests for handouts—and the fear of decreased artwork values—that follow.

Even among artists, there is an expectation that certain art should be free (or at least on certain nights of the week, for students, seniors, practicing artists, friends of arts administrators, or library card holders.) Free events often come under the auspices of increasing arts access, though unfortunately busy and broke people with limited access to art (and transportation) may not have “Free Nights” on their radar, may feel uncomfortable attending, or may not be able to get there. The arts aren’t happening where they are, so making art free may not change the equation.

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Cutting Arts Education is a Form of Identity Theft

Posted by Matt D'Arrigo, Mar 21, 2014 7 comments

Matt D'Arrigo Matt D'Arrigo

The arts are powerful because they provide us with, and help us to create, our identities - who we truly are. The two ultimate questions we have in life are: who am I and why am I here? If you find the answer to the first, it will help lead you to the answer to the second. Identity provides us with a sense of meaning and purpose.

It was in art that I found my own identity. I was in sixth grade and had always really struggled in school. I was lost and confused and thought I was a failure; my self-esteem and confidence were extremely low. Back then there weren’t a lot of diagnosis like ADD, ADHD, or learning disabilities. I was diagnosed as being lazy and a troublemaker…and they probably had a pretty good case against me. Then my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Ferguson, said four words that changed my life. We were doing an art lesson and she came up behind me, looked at my picture and said “Wow, that’s really great”! The other students gathered around and shared her enthusiasm. All of a sudden I wasn’t a failure anymore…I was an artist. I had an identity! I’ve carried that identity and confidence with me to this very day, it’s made me who I am.

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My Most Memorable Day of Teaching and Art Creation

Posted by Sandy Brunvand, Mar 14, 2014 0 comments

Sandy Brunvand Sandy Brunvand

No WAY!” is literally what I said when a participant from my Saturday professional development workshop, Rosie Mitchell, asked me if I would run a steamroller printmaking day at her elementary school in South Salt Lake City. For those of you who have never heard of “steamroller printmaking,” this is a technique for making very large woodcut prints using a steamroller as the printing press. More on that in a bit…

It is not that I am unkind; it’s just that it is so much work to move a printmaking studio off site. I know, I have done it before for the Utah Arts Festival when I was invited to demonstrate steamroller printmaker along with my two fellow Saltgrass Printmakers co-owners and founders - my husband, Erik Brunvand, and our business partner Stefanie Dykes. That’s when Rosie first participated in the steamrolling event.  Later she joined us at our non-profit print studio, Saltgrass Printmakers (facebook page here) and steamrolled some more works of art. She knew how much fun it was and wanted to share it with her elementary school kids.

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Dramatic Possibilities

Posted by Lenore Kelner, Mar 10, 2014 7 comments

Lenore Blank Kelner Lenore Blank Kelner

I have been a teaching artist for many years—long before the profession had this name.

I work with students and teachers in all grade levels integrating drama with oral language development and reading comprehension skills and like all teaching artists try to stay abreast of educational shifts and trends so that my work can be relevant and meaningful to students and to teachers. I have written two books on drama and the classroom and one book on integrating drama with reading comprehension skills.

After 35 years of performing, directing, presenting, writing, and teaching, I am still amazed by the joy and passion I still find daily in my work.  When a student tracked as “low ability” unexpectedly utters a jewel of dialogue during a drama that demonstrates the student not only understands the text explicitly but implicitly I still often get the feeling that I had better sit down quickly or I may fall down. When a teacher after a professional development workshop or after observing a demonstration lesson looks at me in amazement and says, “This is the way I know I can reach my students.”  I again feel so lucky to be able to do this-- amorphous, hard to define, and difficult to quantify-- work. 

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How To Sustain A Professional Practice As A Teaching Artist?

Posted by Dale Davis, Mar 10, 2014 2 comments

Dale Davis Dale Davis

I am a Teaching Artist. Teaching Artists are theater artists, visual artists, writers, filmmakers, poets, video artists, photographers, dancers, storytellers, musicians, puppeteers. We work alone in isolation from a national community to bring us together to share the excitement and challenges of our work, ideas, concerns, and resources. We work as employees of arts organizations, on rosters of arts organizations, and as independent contractors. We work in schools, libraries, prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, museums, homeless shelters, cultural organizations, senior citizen centers, and in our communities. We work in urban, suburban, and rural areas in densely populated and sparsely populated states.

How does this translate into a practical career track? Liability insurance, independent contractor or employee, health insurance, retirement, intellectual property, copyright, certification, master’s degree programs, fellowships, career track - these are high up in Teaching Artists’ concerns.

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At the End of the Day, a Teaching Artist is an Artist First

Posted by Russell Granet, Mar 10, 2014 8 comments

Russell Granet Russell Granet

I graduated conservatory in 1988 and my first job out of school was as a teaching artist.  I moved back to New York City after completing my studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  I was looking for work and had no interest in returning to my previous life in college as a bellman - a gig that paid well, but this was before luggage had wheels.  I asked a buddy of mine from high school, who had also moved to NYC to pursue a career in professional theatre, what he was doing and he said he was a teaching artist.  I had never heard the term before so I asked him what it was and how I could become one.  He said the job had three requirements and in this order:

1. You had to like kids

2. You had to be a morning person because school started early and you couldn’t be late

3. You had to have an expertise in an art form

Sounded reasonable.  I applied for a position at the same organization where my friend worked.  I got the job.  My first assignment was to co-teach with a woman from Schenectady NY, neither one of us had ever stepped foot in a NYC public school.  I was given a name of a teacher, room number, and grade level and so began my career as a teaching artist.

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