As I started to write this it occurred to me that this is my fourth blog entry in less than a months time. I would like to think that's a good thing, but then again I also don't want anything to seem to watered down either. That aside, let me get to the reason I'm writing a second entry in one week.
I want to say thank you to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA.
In July of last year I was contacted by one of my friends who works at the museum about helping out with their Teen Arts Council. The idea was that the artists who would be participating would meet with the group once a week for a three week period to talk about their work, process, and what it's like being a working artist. The teens, ages 13 to 17, were given the opportunity to learn what it's like once you are in the real world making work part of your life, and for me to impart some of the knowledge I've gained along the way. In the end it was rewarding beyond measure.
I have to admit, going into this I was a little nervous. It had been years since I had taught a class and the last time I had to talk about my work to a group of people might have been while I was still in school myself. It's a little challenging thinking that I not only had to talk about my work, but also present it in a way that showed confidence that I don't always have. This particular thought is the reason that I requested to participate at this time of year. I thought that giving myself this much time would allow me to be prepared and convinced that what I was presenting was of value to the audience. What I didn't expect was the value it would have for me.
It was a pleasant surprise to see how eager these students were to soak up information. After the first week, presenting my work and process, the questions that were asked were insightful and fun to answer. The second week, since I don't have a physical studio, and taking people to my house would just be odd, we watched a video about William Eggleston (go figure) and discussed his work and influence on my own, followed again by great questions. The last day, however, was the one that was the most fun.
Outside of some overcast weather and the prospect of rain, I took the group on a photo walk for an hour. I'm not much of a talker when it comes to shooting, so I had to kind of break out of my shell a little, but in the end it seemed a success. It was fun to watch all these teens taking pictures in their own way, free from any structure but their own. I get set in my own working mode that I never stop to think about the way that other people see the world. You can look at other people's images and try to imagine how they came up with them, but to actually watch it happen is a whole new experience.
I can't express how much fun this experience was. If you ever get a chance to do something like this, take advantage of it. Don't let your preconceived notions get in the way or make you pass up the opportunity. Whatever your passion is, be it art, technology, history, share it with the younger generation. To see them have fun and engage with a subject in their own way is not only rewarding, but gives you a new perspective on whatever topic or activity is that you enjoy.
Again, thank you to the Morris Museum for the opportunity. Thank you to Jason Walter for reaching out, it wouldn't have been this easy without your help.