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What comes first, the artist or the teacher?

April 26, 2017

My works Write It Down and I Was the Storm will be on view at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art as part of their Teaching Artist Exhibition.  This year I was fortunate to have my work "Write It Down" selected to be included on the invitation, flyers, and posters.  The show was installed yesterday and as I gazed around looking upon the beautiful works created by teaching artists of Virginia Beach Public City Schools, I found myself wondering about the lives of these artists, how much work they produce, are they as active as I in pursuing their artist profession outside of teaching, and so forth.  Teaching is one of THE MOST demanding professions to exist mentally and physically, but it also demands a ridiculous amount of your personal time just to stay on track.  Those of us who have made a commitment to our art making practice have not done so without sacrifice of sleep, weekends, and social or family engagements.  The duality of the professions is not for the faint of heart and we often are feeling guilty about the lack of attention we are able to provide both equally.  Something always has to give and unfortunately for many artists, it is their artistic process because it doesn't "pay the bills" in the same way or we don't have a boss, or parents, or students, that we are accountable for with it.  It is something that we truly do for ourselves, whether we are selling work or not.  I am extremely proud of my artist friends who have been able to put up the good fight and commit themselves to both.  I am proud of these teaching artists, who even if they could only produce one or two pieces this school year, still made the time to do so.  Teaching demands for us to care about every thing and every one but ourselves.  Making artwork is one of the few things that gives us a sense of control and a sense of purpose outside of our classroom.  I know very few that have been able to carry on both in today's culture for longer than a few years, and I myself question which path is of most importance to me.  Whatever the decision of the future for myself and for my fellow teaching artists, I just hope that they continue to create and in doing so remember, that their practice IS VALID, IS WORTH IT, and IS FOR THEM, and that IS OKAY.



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