Day 75: Nicky, Middle & Upper School art teacher

[ By on January 18, 2013 ]

THE LOST & FOUND

When Howard Ikemoto told his 7-year-old daughter what he did for a living – “I teach people how to draw” – her response was, “You mean they forgot?”

Yes. Art can be remembering, searching, finding what is lost. So I urge students to dig deep, to uncover fertile soil. Sometimes they come up with mud. Sometimes gold.

Today I learned that my students are explorers, getting lost in order to find. They’re also alchemists, magically transforming materials. As Picasso would say, they turn a yellow spot into the sun. Their art is ingenious. Sometimes I find little difference between their work and that of professionals.

For example, Josette found some wire and quickly crafted jewelry that could sell for top Globo. Many a jeweler would be drooling (they call it jeweling).

Josette Simpson, jewelry, 2013

Meanwhile, Muhati made a painting similar to the contemporary art of Julie Mehretu.

Leanna Muhati, The Color Storm, 2012

Julie recently painted a mural for the Goldman Sachs lobby for five icy-cold million dollars.

Julie Mehretu, Mural (detail), 2010

You can see it downtown – it looks like a large Muhati!  These are 6th graders by the way.

My PICA class (“Projects in Contemporary Art”), channeled their distress after Hurricane Sandy into their windy beachscape, and they recently installed a large work about the SAT exam, where they (literally) question the meaning of the standardized test (“a tutor’s dream?”). As well they should. It’s striking to witness the liberating power of art. It’s like a GPS where they can locate themselves.

PICA, Stormscape, 2012

PICA, The SAT is… (detail), 2013

But we’re talking messy excursions; it’s an epic struggle. My studio tends to be chaotic, with no clear pathways, lots of questions and many, many answers. Meanwhile, I strive for balance: too much freedom and they’re lost; too much guidance and they’re stifled. But I always favor freedom, since bewilderment leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to discovery. And whatever they encounter, it’s their journeys that count most. So mud to gold, it’s an honor to lead these young excavators, to be the captain of the lost-and-found. I’ve got the best day-job any artist could hope for (blogger for a day)!

Nicky Enright is an artist and educator with no sense of direction but many binoculars.

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2 Comments on “Day 75: Nicky, Middle & Upper School art teacher”

  1. admin

    I’ve most enjoyed visiting Nicky’s middle school classes–watching students explore, imagine and create through various media. I often wish I had an art teacher who encouraged my messy explorations and technicolor dreams. . . art is very much about seeing and thinking differently.

  2. admin

    Well done Leanna this is wonderful

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