Open studio and exhibition of students work, Sunday, October 11, 2009
“To learn to teach is to learn to pay attention to the work of others.” Heather McCue, poet and McArthur Grant Winner, interview, NPR, Sept. 22, 2009.
As a teacher I have always felt that students should prepare for real life experiences. My students should have the experience of choosing and hanging their work for their friends, family and potential collectors to view. To that end we are hanging a student exhibition as part of my open studio afternoon.
There are several important processes involved:
Selection involves a critical look at one’s work. We have been practicing this as long as we have been learning, looking and critiquing at each painting session. We use mats to view the work which automatically adds a degree of seriousness to the painting. I ask that the students take their work home and attach it to a wall. After a while that wall becomes crowded and the painter must remove less successful paintings to hang the latest paintings. After a while the wall is transformed into a space filled with successful paintings and the painter can begin to analyze why one is more or less satisfying than another, what the painter did well and what not so well, to which paintings one develops an emotional attachment and why. Many answers show up on that wall.
Confidence is required. Going public involves risk taking; it takes nerve and confidence. The paintings we have chosen to exhibit have to look good! Preparing for a show takes looking at one’s own paintings with detachment one step further. Because the paintings are to hang with two other students’ work the whole exhibit must “work” together requiring a certain amount of personal sacrifice for the success of the whole.
In addition, there are also the organizational tedious details of title, medium, size for labels. Each student has been practicing signing their paintings in watercolor with a brush.
This time I matted but next time they will.