I started teaching again this week at the ceramics studio, and while I knew that I missed teaching, I didn't fully comprehend just how much I missed it and how much I actually get out of teaching art to kids and adults.
My kids class is full this term, and as I always do, I started class by telling the kids that there is only one rule, and that is kindness. After I laid that on them, I went around the room and I asked them to give us definitions of different types of kindness.
It is wonderful listening to kids talk about their idea of kindness, and inspiring to watch them agree to cheer each other on as they make whatever art they decide to make. Everybody leaves class on a high because they understand how good it feels to be nice to each other, as well as how different it feels to make art in a space that they know is safe. This is the same message I give to all my classes, but for the teens and adults, it is less of a straight-forward conversation and more of a role modeling situation.
There is an older woman in my sculpture class who has taken a few art classes here and there in her life, but has never really thrown herself into art making, though she has wanted to. She told me that when she was a kid, she had an art teacher who told her that she was not good enough at drawing or sculpting to do either, and that she should probably focus her attention on other things instead. So she did, though the act of art making brought her a lot of joy.
This is an unfortunate institutional message given to most kids at an early age, because on a very basic level, all public school classes, even most art classes, are created to teach and reward conformity and mimicry, and stifle originality and creative thought. As a kid, there is no way to know this, so when your teacher tells you that you are no good, you only know that it hurts, and internalize the crushing message that you should probably not believe in yourself. It doesn't matter who you are, if you hear this enough times, you believe it, and then, even in the face of situations where you prove to be successful and powerful, there is still that voice inside you that has been planted by the establishment that tells you not to believe it. In essence, in the face of your own magic and power, your training has taught you to believe that it is a lie, or a fluke, or luck.
It's tough to feel good in a society that only celebrates what it can control, and only rewards what pushes the agenda of conformity forward. If you happen to be in any way different, it can also be dangerous. It's one of the reasons that I believe art classes for all ages is so important. We are taught at a young age to push whatever makes us different down deep so it cannot be seen. By the time most of us reach 30 we don't know who we are because we have been working so hard trying to be what we have been told is acceptable. Art and creativity is one very obvious way to acknowledge and cultivate the differences and universal similarities we all carry within us.
Human beings are all creative, and all in very different ways. Unfortunately, most of us believe that we are not, and many of us believe it so deeply that we go out of our way to squash whatever creative impulses we see in others because it doesn't align with the messaging we have internalized and suffered under our entire lives.
So, if you are reading this, and there is something inside you screaming that you are not creative, understand that this is the result of programming in a society that profits from your ability to conform and not be curious or ask questions. In short, this voice is bullshit, and the sooner you learn to ignore it and finally create a new voice within you that is kind, supportive and loving, the sooner your entire life will change.
We have been shown in the last few years just how much of what we have been taught has been created to control and divide us, and the messaging about creativity is no exception.
So if you have even a tiny inkling about picking up a paint brush, a saxophone, a sculpting tool, or a knitting needle. do it. Throw yourself into it. Put your heart into what you create, no matter what that is. You will discover a limitless well of a life inside you that changes and evolves over the course of your life that is all yours to tap into, anytime you want.
Don't believe the lies that you are not in some way creative. They were told to you by people who were never allowed to believe in themselves, and instead of seeing you flourish and grow, they would rather you suffer with them.
Don't let the bastards get you down.
Is an artist, a philosopher, a writer and a teacher. She will be writing random thoughts here. Follow along if you are interested.
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