YOGART STUDIO :: My AGO Inspiration
The AGO and me go way back. In 2006, I was getting ready to complete my final work placement to graduate from Ryerson’s Early Childhood Education undergraduate program. I had acquired a taste for museum education in my previous work placement at the Royal Ontario Museum where I assisted in the re-design of the children’s hands-on gallery. The AGO seemed like a perfect fit since their education department was also in the process of re-designing their hands-on centre “Off the Wall”. I nailed the interview and never looked back! My role over the years has greatly evolved and my responsibilities have expanded. I have lead inquiry based tours and art workshops in the galleries for family and school audiences, professional development workshops for staff and volunteers and planned weekend and summer camp studio-based programming in the gallery school.
So where does my inspiration stem from? There’s a lot to be said for the environment we work, learn and play in. Our environment should provoke us to want to learn, discover and explore. Loris Malaguzzi (the educator/designer behind the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and education) referred to the environment as “the third teacher” (the first and second being teachers/parent and peers). An environment that ignites (without over-stimulating) our senses through aesthetic appeal is credited as an essential element of learning. It’s incredible walking into the AGO, taking in the grandeur of Frank Gehry’s re-design and thinking to yourself –wow, I actually work here. It’s easy to find inspiration from the artworks that fill the galleries (seriously, there’s something here for everyone and if you have not had a chance to visit –GO!). But where I really find inspiration is in the people who are also drawn to the AGO. The AGO’s education department is filled with passionate and dedicated staff and volunteers. Everyone that I have had the pleasure of working with -from the managers, coordinators, Education Officers, Studio-Instructors, Studio-technicians and the Gallery-Guides, have all boasted about how much they enjoy working at the gallery.
All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up – Picasso
As a Studio-Instructor, I draw inspiration from my memorable experiences working with AGO children and their families. I am so grateful to be able to learn and teach alongside so many naturally talented young artists. After all, it was Picasso (a child prodigy himself) who once said, “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up”. When I work with children, my teaching philosophy reflects my confidence in collaborative, child-centred teaching methods that encourage learning to reflect personally meaningful creative expression and understanding. I want kids to get excited about their artwork and not worry about it looking “right” (the notion of “right” is usually rooted in the degree of realistic representation). Creating art should not be about making something look “right”, it should be about creation. Creating something to express yourself, creating to represent your understanding of something, or just creating for the sake of creating! The AGO provides young artists (aka our future artists, problem-solvers, creative thinkers) a platform to do just that -to absorb and find inspiration in the artworks throughout the galleries and then apply technical aspects of art making to their own original ideas.
Creating art is also an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. With the help of inspiring educators, children learn by building on their previous understanding of an idea or topic. Since art is a form of personal creative expression, it’s also an opportunity recognize our own emotional development –our identity. Our identity alludes to the reason why we think and feel the way we do and how that relates to the people in our lives –an area of development that continues throughout our adult lives.
As I write this post, I’m in the middle of designing my summer studio-art program for the AGO’s Summer Art and Design Camps 2013. I’ll be teaching sessions 1 through 4 of the Sparklers (ages 6-7) program. AGO campers get to experience all the fun elements of summer camp – games, activities, swim days with their camp counsellors and spend 2 hours in the morning and another 2 hours in the afternoon with me in the studio-gallery. So what’s on the art menu this summer? Drawing, painting, printmaking, collaging, sculpting and some sneaky guerilla art experiences –just to name a few! Below is a sample of some of the artworks my summer campers (ages 6-7) created in 2012.