The start of the school year is nigh. It's this time of year that I get all excited about organizing my school bag and reinvigorating my art curriculum! I'm on a constant quest to keep things fresh for my learners and thus, I find myself visiting lots of libraries, bookstores, and art museum looking for inspiration.
Philly is a goldmine for artistic experiences and this year, my search led me to an often over-looked gem on Philly's main parkway. We all know about the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), The Barnes, and the Rodin Museum, but have you ever heard of The Perelman Building? Perhaps I am just out of the loop, but I hadn't! Admission to the Perelman is included in the admission fee of a regular PMA ticket. A short walk down the hill and across Pennsylvania Avenue and you find yourself in front of an Art Deco architectural masterpiece.
The exhibit I liked most was titled Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design and runs through October 4th. As stated in the blurb placed on the wall at the beginning of the exhibit, the Scandinavian aesthetic was rooted in a belief that,"the good design of attractive, well-designed objects could have a positive impact on society." I definitely agree with this statement! This exhibit is a must see for anyone who appreciates the Danish Modern aesthetic that has seen a revival from the hit show Mad Men.
Sometimes I get so used to my role as an art educator that I forget just how much fun I have being an art student! Luckily, the Department of Making + Doing (DM+D) exists in West Philadelphia to let learners of all ages drop in on hyper interesting classes almost every night of the week! (DM+D) is a collaboration between four Philly-based organizations that specialize in design, fabrication, electronics, and art to encourage learning through doing. In short, they provide a space where makers and doers can come in and have access to really cool tools like a die cutters, 3-D printers, sewing machines, and power tools! Oh, and in addition to their awesome classes, they have FREE "Drop In And Do" evenings every single Thursday. Pretty cool, eh?
While most of the classes offered in this space, focus on technology, I signed up for their $5 Japanese Calligraphy class. Yep, folks, $5!!! I invited a few fantastic teacher friends from my district and we made a night of it. Our instructor, Sara Winters, was an absolute expert. She had all kinds of inside knowledge about the incredibly intricate art of Shodo. As an art teacher, the four big ideas I took away from this workshop that I will pass on to my kiddos are :
I'll be the first one to admit that summer is a rad time for teachers. I have no idea what Ms. Lana Del Rey is talking about when she refers to this thing called "summer time sadness." After wrapping up a very busy end of the school year, I am ready to shift into a lower gear and take some time to smell the roses. Where does a 30 year old art teacher find her zen, you ask?
Philadelphia's Schuylkill River is just about as zen as it can get in my book. I've been trying to get at least one run in each day when my husband goes to work. The river banks surrounding the mighty Schuylkill are filled with several great people watching opportunities such as a dog park, a state-of-the-art skate park, a multitude of gorgeous deco-era sculptures, and an every so picturesque row of boat houses that are home to several university rowing crew teams. Beholding the river on my morning route makes it very clear why William Penn chose these shores as the place to orchestrate his plans for a new burgeoning city! But alas, let's move on, before I digress into an anthem about how much I love my home state of Pennsylvania.
But please don't think that my zen focus is merely physical. I have a boatload of books I want to check off of my list as well. I am currently between 10-100 pages into each one! Nothing a bit of backyard sitting and iced coffee can't remedy.
And last, but certainly, not least, a big piece of my zen comes from the birth of this new blog. I relish the extra time that summer brings to reexamine the work I have done as a teacher during the past year. I love scouring the blogs of fellow colleagues and connections who are changing the face of art education each and every day in their own idiosyncratic art-making spaces. It is amazing the comfort that comes from "talking shop" with others in the field who are just as excited about the potential that creativity has to enhance and transform our lives. The ability to troubleshoot lesson ideas and cross-pollinate pedagogy at the press of a button. Everyone knows the horizon line shows what is farthest and nearest to you in a landscape and that is exactly what my intention is in starting this blog. By putting a glimpse of my every day life out into the Blog-o-sphere, I hope to connect with those of you that exist just beyond my line of sight, just out of reach beyond the edge of my page.
Sunny is an art teacher who is living the dream. The only thing she enjoys more than her curious students are the adventures she has with her loving husband and cat in the fabulous city of Philadelphia!
Artful Artsy Amy
The Department of Making + Doing
The Philadelphia Museum of Art