Art and Education: working with students

Quite soon after my graduation from an art school in 2002 I was drawn into teaching art workshops of a different kind. A field of work which I had no intentions towards to. At the beginning it was like any other job, simply about getting the days go by and getting the salary, of course.

After some years of doing occasional workshops I was asked to manage a small art department at a local folk high-school in Turku. I worked there from 2006 to 2014 before I started my current job in the Turku Arts Academy as a lecturer in the department of fine arts. During the folk high-school years, I studied in the Aalto University and HAMK University of Applied Sciences for my master`s degree in fine arts and in a degree programme on a professional teacher`s pedagogy.

By trying to manage my teaching job, studies and ambitions in personal artistic work, I found myself in a tricky situation of not quite knowing which way to go. My artistic practice was not developing the way I wanted it to and that reflected as uncertainty in my teaching.

At some point, I came across an interview with Artist Lauri Anttila. He was asked about his teaching work in a relation to his artistic practice and in a very clear manner he explained it to be the same. The artistic practice can be seen in an extensive way so that it consists of actions of a various different kind. Teaching being one of them and therefore inseparable part of one`s practice. I`ve been trying to adopt a similar kind of philosophy in my body of work as well. I consider teaching to be a part of my artistic practice and part of my professional identity as an artist. I don’t call teaching as teaching, it`s all work for me.

Creativity is like a nature`s force that stems from almost everywhere. As an art educator I consider myself immensely privileged to be able to witness and to take part in the coming of art so often and in so many ways. Theorists of the educational turn in the arts have been suggesting that artistic work could be seen as knowledge producing process.  In a contrast to a more classical way of seeing art as something to reflect upon, art could be considered as something that you actively and personally take part in.

In an active participation lies a beautiful possibility of sharing ideas and making new connections between things never before considered. Art can work as a tool for personal contemplation but also as a vehicle for social interaction. Both of them are potentially creative assets that contribute good things to the world.