Majoring in Visual Arts Education
Did you grow up as an artsy person? How did your interest in art education develop?
Yes. I think I started becoming more interested in high school. I think when you’re going through elementary and middle school, you’re kind of limited on what you can really do because the projects are more arts-and-craftsy rather than expanding your creativity and your mind.
Once you get out of the intro classes, which are the artsy-craftsy kind of stuff, you really have the openness to kind of go in your own direction. You have a general theme or era or artist that you’re mimicking, but you have freedom to explore different media. So I would say it was around that time that I started to get more into art. But teaching-wise, I would say it wasn’t until my junior year that I decided maybe I should teach it. When you think about education, it’s usually not the first thing you think, like, ‘Oh, I want to be an art teacher.’
I didn’t really think that becoming an art teacher was a thing, so when you go and apply to college, you’re like, ‘Well do they have this major?’ And luckily Purdue did, so that was nice. But I know a lot of schools don’t really have that program because it’s not really the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of education.
Was there anything else you were interested in doing?
I know beforehand, I wanted to be a chemist. I wanted to work with chemicals and that kind of stuff. I was actually really good at chemistry, but when I thought about it, it wasn’t something I wanted to make a career out of. I just liked it and liked the processes, but then I ended up finding my way after a while. It just took some exploring of what I actually wanted to do.
Has it been your major the whole time?
Yeah, I haven’t changed my major once. I have loved every minute of it. … I have art, and I’ve always kind of wanted to be a teacher in the back of my mind, so why not combine both? That was kind of cool for me, to have that realization that I could do that. Again, it’s not the first thought. When you think of a teacher, you think of an elementary school teacher.
Do you have a favorite medium?
I don’t really have one. People ask me that all the time like, ‘Which one do you think you’ll specialize in if you did high school?’ I’m almost done with all of them, all of the mediums that I have to take for our major. There’s printmaking, textiles, drawing I, drawing II, AD 105, which is like foundations design, painting, black-and-white photography, jewelry making, sculpture, life drawing, and then next semester I have to take ceramics. That’s my last one. There’s a big chunk of them, but that’s a pretty good leg up. You get to dabble in all of them.
If you wanted to do a printmaking lesson, you could do it and you would know the foundations. You might have to research a little bit about it if you wanted to do something [complex]. Like right now we’re doing wood, carving wood, but if we did silkscreen, I would definitely have to look that up. So you get a little bit of choice when it comes to the different studios that you take because there’s different types of printmaking and there’s different textiles, so you get to pick and choose which one you want to do, which is nice.
But back to the media thing, I don’t think I’ve liked one more than the others. I’m not a huge painter, I’ve realized, but I didn’t mind doing it, either. I would say if I had a least favorite, it would probably be painting. But I think dabbling in all of them, which I didn’t get to do in high school – I never got to do printmaking or jewelry making and that kind of stuff – I think it’s more intriguing now that I get to do this stuff. I think it’s the curiosity about it where I can’t pick one because I had so much fun exploring all the different materials.
If you were going to chat with a high school student who is considering visual arts education, what would you tell them?
I would say that it can be a lot. There’s a lot of classes that you have to take on top of your education classes that can make your schedule to be a lot, but it’s not as bad as what it seems. I think a lot of times, our ed professor says it best: They really put us through the ringer, but I think at the end of the day, it’s really worth it. If I was told that I need to come student teach right now, I think I’d be ready. I have the resources from all our ed methods courses and the education courses that I’ve taken already that if I had to do it, I would have the resources and the knowledge about the different studios that I would need to go into the field and be ready. That’s really, really nice.
Our ed professor says that at the end of the day, they want a Purdue student rather than other colleges who have this major because they don’t really have to hold our hand and guide us in the direction that they want us to go. We’re kind of self-sufficient and we can do it on our own and figure it out on our own, which is really nice. It’s nice that you’re being trained to think that way, do it that way, and you don’t even notice it because that’s just the way that it’s always been. It’s nice to know that I’m getting a degree that’s going to better prepare me for the real world rather than somebody who’s going to hold my hand throughout the entire thing.
Do you have a favorite class you’ve taken here?
Honestly all of our ed methods courses are the best. Our ed professor, Dr. Bob – that’s what we call him, anyway, Robert Sabol – he is amazing. He talks about the art ed profession like it’s some type of magical land.
We do studio projects and we sit and talk about real life, which is really nice because most of your professors don’t have time to sit down and really get to know you and talk about, ‘Well, this is what’s really going on in the teaching profession.’ We can sit there and talk for an hour about, ‘This is a problem that you’re going to face in the classroom and this is how I would solve it, but what do you think? How would you solve it?’ So to have those classes that are specifically based on an art classroom is really nice.
You really get to know your peers because the classes are so small. My last art methods course, which I’m in right now, there’s seven people in there, so it allows for you to have a discussion-based class where if we read something about art museums and how we can engage students in art museums, we can actually sit in a circle and talk about it and get ideas from each other. That makes it, I think, more beneficial, especially in a learning setting.
What’s the story with your summer teaching job?
It was at Arts for Lawrence. It’s in Lawrence Township. Some of the kids come from other places, but it’s mainly Lawrence Township kids. I grew up kind of around there, so I already knew a little bit. It’s different, and I like it.
It’s basically an art camp in Indy. A teacher from Lawrence started an art camp for her community, and basically I’d have a little bit of freedom to help her build a curriculum for the summer, and get to actually teach the lessons in a faster-paced setting like an elementary school would be. That’s really cool because the hard part with education is you get experience, but you don’t get as much as having an internship all summer, so when it comes to summer, you don’t really know what to do. I enjoyed doing that a lot.
So what did you do?
We did multiple projects throughout the week. You had four different lessons to teach, and you had to teach different ones each day. In the morning, we would go and get all the supplies ready that we needed. We had a whole closet, which was really nice, to just pick stuff from. Then we basically taught from a cart, almost. We had a spot, we had a bunch of tables, and we just taught the lesson and the kids did the art.
They would all collect their art throughout the week and then they would have an art gallery for their parents at the end of the week. That was cool. Especially with the new art standards, it’s more presentation-based and there are more standards upon those different things, so being able to practice that without really having much experience, it was nice to get that little bit of experience to be able to teach them how to properly present their artwork.