I am going to start tree twenty-five, really I am…but I did get a little side-tracked this morning. I finished up and submitted my final reflections for my experience as an SDA Scholar at the Confluence in June. Keep in mind that it was my participation in Anna Carlson’s workshop that really did inspire me to start blogging, to really make an effort to write about my process and my art. I don’t know if anyone reads this blog besides me, but I really do enjoy sitting down and reflecting on what and why I am creating. Now, don’t let the occasional grammatical flub fool you- I feel like I am better able to articulate about my art just from sitting and writing about it via this blog. (Mrs. Aldridge, if you ever read my blog please forgive my lapse in syntax and love for commas.)
Attending the Surface Design Confluence in Minneapolis really made me awaken artistically and I know that this growth will also show in my teaching. I am going to post my reflective essay below along with the six pictures that I submitted. I think that the reflection, or parts of it anyway, and some of the pictures may be published on the SDA web site or via their on-line journal. I do want to acknowledge again what an impact attending this particular conference has had on me. So, here is what I wrote…if you know me you can skip the first paragraph…
My name is Jennifer Love Gironda. I currently teach art to grades 5-8 at Indiantown Middle School, which is a small school of four hundred students. I just completed my eight year of teaching; I have taught art to all levels, K-12 in those eight years. I earned my MAEd and BFA from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina where I was inspired to study textiles by my Surface Design Professor, Christine Zoller. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Early and Middle Childhood Education and I am also an avid grant writer. I recently joined the Surface Design Association, and was thrilled when I found out that I would attend my first conference as an SDA Scholar. What an honor.
The workshop that I signed up for was Anna Carlson’s Beyond One of a Kind: Creating Collections, Series and Signature Style. I had two main reasons for choosing this particular workshop; artistic and professional growth. On a personal and artistic level, I signed up for this workshop to do a little soul searching and to get these hands creating meaningful work again. I graduated from my masters program in May of 2009. In my last semester I felt like I had really started to find my aesthetic. I was working with hand-dyed and fused fabrics at the time, which I heavily embellished and then combined with my drawing and painting works on paper. I felt like I was finding my voice. However, then I graduated and the work seemed to just…stop. I have done some work here and there since graduate school, but I felt like I was just making work that did not have a connection; work that I was not connected to. Sitting in Anna Carlson’s workshop the first day and watching her introductory PowerPoint, I knew that I had picked the right workshop for me. The whole purpose of the workshop was to identify personal style and aesthetic and then to learn how to push past just making that one piece to really exploring a complete, cohesive, body of work. I was able to discuss my work and inspirations with an amazing group of women, and to get feedback and direction. The in-depth exploration of my aesthetic, and looking for recurring themes in my own work helped me to see that I have little pieces of me in all of my work, I just never allowed myself to push past that one piece.
On a professional level, this workshop has many applications. First and foremost, maintaining my own direction and learning directly impacts my students, they always benefit from my professional growth. In addition, anyone that has ever worked with students can tell you of the dreaded, “I’m finished.” I saw this workshop as an opportunity to learn how I could push my students beyond the initial point of completing a work and really delving into a study of a subject or a theme. I had become so used to just ‘doing’ that I forgot the how and why. I will take from this workshop a focus on reflection and looking for connections not only in my students’ art but in my curriculum planning. I have the potential to help my students really connect to their work and make art that is meaningful to them.
I am currently enjoying the last of my summer break. Since conference I have taught two art camps to students ages 5-7 and worked on lesson plans for my own students in the fall. One thing that I have noticed since I returned from the SDA Confluence is my desire to have a textile reference or technique in all that I do, and I am excited about infusing my curriculum with surface design. In addition to planning for the next school year, I have started an art blog, which I write in almost daily. I realized that I am heavily influenced by Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha, so I committed to creating ten 18x24 tree pieces combing what I love about these two artists. After the first ten drawings were done I decided to just keep pushing myself (thank you, Anna) and now I am on to drawing number twenty-four and still going. I have plans to work with a variety of painting and collage techniques and to return to the fused fabrics and beading that I fell in love with in graduate school. I feel more aware of myself as an artist and a creative spirit as a result of the SDA Confluence and I am excited to see my passion extend into my teaching this coming fall.
So, that is what I submitted. I am not great a proof reading so I am sure that there are some mistakes, but I wrote it down- I got it out there. If by chance any of my fellow art teachers are reading and want to know more about the Surface Design Association and the SDA Scholar program, here is the link to their site: http://www.surfacedesign.org.
And now.. what else? Starting tree #25, which will be interrupted by a trip to Michaels and lunch, but nonetheless, I am starting it and that has to count for something.
Artist and Art Teacher