Took my students (all seniors) from Paier College to the beach that's a five minute walk from our classroom. I asked them earlier in the semester if they had ever been. They all replied with "no, but I want to". So I took them! It was an incredible day for all of us.
I was able to talk about the types of shells, snails and long island sound in general. When I was a college student I didn't have that understanding of how I belonged physically in a place. It was really awesome to be able to share that with my students. I could point which way NYC or New Haven was, very simple, but very powerful.
Monday was the last day of our fall semester. They requested that after our critique, we go to the beach. I was honored!
It's Connecticut in December, and I wasn't expecting my art students to want to stay out long. I was so wrong! We would set a place to walk to, and ended up there in no time. We walked up and down the water for a few hours. They were able to ask me questions and talk with me in a way that didn't happen in the classroom. Walking is so great like that.
We talked about Art Miami, NFTs and all of that jazz. I talked with them about the program I am in at VCFA. We even got splashed by the water and were able to see the geese playing over the water -- we all agreed that animals do play, regardless of what science says.
As an art teacher and an artist, I've taught more people things about our natural world more than art in and of itself. There is a huge part of me that thinks if I were to go back in time, I would go towards being a scuba instructor, hiking trail guide or park ranger. But then I think of creating things and know that I need both in my life. Opening people's eyes up to things outside is incredible. Living in a sort of giant suburb of New York City, as an artist/educator, I think I can contribute positively to my community by bringing people from not outdoorsy backgrounds outdoors. I think this will free my artwork from feeling like it needs to fix the world.
Mario Ontiveros said to me, if you love your grandmother, you can either make an installation, performative piece, or sculpture proclaiming your love for your grandmother; Or you can go hang out with your grandmother. One is a gesture even if a good intention, and one is actually acting on whatever it is.
I don't want to make work about our environment, I want to be in the woods staring at the universe that exists inside a lichen. Or, hike 20 miles in a day, because it builds my relationship with the land. I understand how I belong somewhere by how much I walk on it. I enjoy slow travel. Like a snail.
On our way back to the school, I pointed to a seagull sitting on top of a large statue of P.T. Barnum. The amount of poop on top of P.T.'s head was kind of hilarious. As someone who just made public artwork for outside, I couldn't help but laugh. Nature and art is awesome, both can exist in me balanced. I'm aware that I have to continue to not take myself too seriously. Humor is a wonderful thing.