Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Art and the Growth Mindset

"Ms. D, that's too hard!" "I can't do it like you" "I'll never be good at art!"

These are definitely not all of the "fixed mindset" phrases that I hear in a day in my art classroom but they are the ones that I will always remember . Each time it breaks my heart as I try to find the words to encourage my students to continue their work and techniques that I teach them all year long. Unfortunately, in an ideal world, I can encourage ALL students and show them that mistakes are life's way of saying "you're on the right track, you're just not there yet".

As I sat one summer afternoon, enjoying my summer vacation as all teachers do, with my coffee in hand and light music playing in the background, I can hear my two dogs dreaming on the couch. This is not to say that I don't enjoy learning all year long. Summer is my time to recharge, research and review all of the ways that I can improve for the following school year. Research has become a sort of friend/foe since graduate school.

Research does one of two things for me..either it stifles my thought process and I have to take a break, eventually losing interest in the subject or it does the opposite. I love watching TedTalks because they not only are informative but they always seem to spark ideas that I can tend to obsess over and eventually demonstrate in life and in the classroom.  On this particular day, I watched a TedTalk by "Grow Mindset" guru, Carol Dweck. For years, she has been studying in various school settings around the country on how retraining the mind to have a "growth mindset" approach in learning as well as teaching styles can help students not only make the passing grade, but also teach them life long skills in how they deal with success and failure as adults. I'd like to begin my record of my "Adventures in Teaching Growth Mindset"! Experiment time, here we go!

Here is Carol Dweck's TedTalk:

Her book: Mindset: The new psychology of success, 2007

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Stop Taking Selfies and Take Action

For the love of all things Holy, please stop taking selfies and take action.

You're beautiful/handsome and 2017 will be your year.

You don't need likes and shares to know that. You should know that in your heart and above all, know it in your mind.

Selfies aren't reassuring, they're fleeting. Just look at everyone's SnapChat accounts.

Now don't get me wrong, I've taken the proverbial seflies or 100 but don't fall into that downward spiral. Wake and smell the actual roses people.

There's so much hatred and greed out there and all everyone wants to talk about is how many likes they got on their photos??? WTF.

Fight it.

Fight the urge to put your face out there to be judged. Ask yourself before you post anything, would you want your parents/children/spouse/future spouse/future children to see what you think is important in such a tumultuous time??

We are wondering why we are in the state that we're in and it's because we value how much 'unknown' people who like/share the shit that we post. Share your opinion about current events once in a while and see how many likes/shares that you get. Compare the likes/shares you get on your selfies to how many you get on your opinions. There will be a difference.

Pass the time with things that matter in 2017.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

First one in a while

Getting Caught Up:

This time 6 years ago, I was at home in San Antonio wondering what direction my life was heading in. It was going to be 2011, I was in graduate school and two months out of my long term relationship, which I knew deep down would never be reconciled. There had been too much damage and too many words spoken to ever go back to the way things had been. 

It's funny how I can type the above papragraph and feel next to nothing but a small dose of nostalga for what once was. But when you're in the moment, man...I thought my heart would never heal. It only took 6 years...

But alas, this post is not to speak on old relationships or what happened then. The aforementioned was my way of catching up and giving the last 6 years of my life so sort of closure. Now it's on to what direction my life has headed since grad school.

The Block:

Writers have a name for this, it's called writer's block. Let's look at the word block. A block is when there is an obstacle of some sort in the way. In who's way? The writer. The writer is stuck behind what they've created in the past, maybe bringing them success, maybe not. But to an artist, you wouldn't think that the world would have a shortage of things to observe where an artist could create their own narrative and take on said things. But you would be wrong. There's a major block in my way. The block is me. 

Much like with many artists, the block is usually their inability to continue to take in information the same way they did when someone was giving them something to look at in a critical manner. It's a lot like when you're in high school and you rely on your mom or dad to wake you up on time in the morning to get to school. In college, it's the same way. Your professors have themes and concepts that they organize in such a way that you can pick apart these themes and create your own inspired take, of course keeping in mind all of the art history and background informtion it took for you to even understand how to dissect an artist's theme or concept. That in and of itself should be a skill, actually, but that's for another post. 

Anyhow, college enabled me to dissect themes presented to me by well seasoned art historians and artists. But somewhere along the way, I missed the lecture on how to keep the creative ball rolling once you leave your academic setting. In a way, I think that's what I thought graduate school was for. I had the impression that graduate school would elevate my mind to such great creative heights, that the creative process wouldn't cease for many years to come, well at least until I was well into my 60s or 70s. 

That wasn't the case. Graduate school did hurt my brain and give me more gray hair than I would've imagined. Don't get me wrong, my graduate program, while very quick, did afford me a trip abroad which indefinitely enticed my hunger for travel and exploration as well as transplanted me from my Texas roots to the wonderment that is New York City. While there, I did all the things you do when you're 25 and in NYC for a year. I partied and stayed out until 5am and of course shared in plenty of early morning muchies. Went to several warehouse parties and drank cheap beer to past the time. Danced my ass off in sweaty, smelly bars. Began my binge watching traditions. Saw so many weird, but much needed art pieces. But again, this post isn't about the past. It does help though to remember being utterly alone in an unfamilar place, with no family and having to trust in new friends, which are now life long friends. 

So what's so different now? Are you kidding me? I have a full job. And not just any job, I'm a fucking teacher. Teaching is the most difficult profession behind being a doctor or nurse! In NYC, I had no job and now real responsibility other than making sure I got my ass to class and my student teaching gigs on time. Now that that time has long passed, reality of working and maintaining a life back home is exhausting. I'm going into my 32nd year of life and I really don't have anything to show for it. Sure, I'm alive, I have all he things a 31-ish year old should have and above all I'm well educated. But I still feel unfullfilled somehow. 

My creative process has been stifled by my own doing. I don't have the skills to observe and think critically about anything anymore. Everything seems overwhelming and weird. Having a full time job doesn't help either. Now don't think that I'm just complaining. I'm not. This is more like a plea to the universe to give back my creative process, damn it. It's been long enough! Sure, I should cut some unnecesssary obstacles out of my life, like worry and making excuses, but then this wouldn't be so fun to figure out, ha. 

Great Diagram on how to organize your creative process. Willingness to try is at your own risk :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Artwork

Immediately when I think of birth or rebirth I think of cocoons. I think of the constant eating of a caterpillar, much like how babies have the need to feed and be fed. Caterpillars grow fat and happy, then soon will develop into a cocoon. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is where I sit, fascinated by nature's creation and recreation of the insect. My final project is much like the process in which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I, like nature, first mold happy, little fat cocoons, paint them, hang them and then create the paper chrysalises that are left behind with the words of women who speak of the childfree lifestyle. Upon surveying 20 women about the childfree lifestyle, I felt that creating cocoons that would represent all women, who choose to have or not have children in their lifetime was an interesting and unique decision. Each cocoon can stand alone or be a part of the larger group, much like women who decide to be childfree. The bands of colors signify the individual characteristics of women but the uniform and repetitive shape of the cocoons make the group of represented women stronger and bound together. The braids that hold the cocoons together are reminiscent of the umbilical cord that once bound us to our mothers and could bind us to our children. Because most of the research on the childfree lifestyle is based on the choices of women in their personal and professional lives, I thought it fitting to include the statements of those participants of my survey as words of wisdom for the remaining cocoons and for the viewer. Since deciding to live childfree is in fact a choice, women everywhere can appreciate that we indeed have the power to make the choice and can live full and happy lives based on our decisions.

Untitled, 2011

Photos Courtesy of Lisa Barnshaw

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Process of the Artwork

Inspiration for the Artwork:

The monarch butterfly cocoon

Using air dry clay, I roll 2 inch balls of clay and mold them into individual cocoons. I form the stem by pinching the clay into a point and making an indentation around the top of the cocoon. I let the cocoons dry on newspaper for a day and a half, then paint and hang.

I lay the molded cocoons on newspaper to dry evenly.

I've painted to cocoons to give each a unique look. In all, I created over 200 cocoons that will be incorporated into the finished piece.

One bunch of cocoons.

I then begin to hang the bunches of cocoons together to create a huddled mass.

The cut string, once containing a solid cocoon will be soon holding a paper chrysalis.

The paper cocoons act as a form of Chrysalis that contains the words of participants that I surveyed for my final thesis.