Two Potters Walk Into A Bar

I have been reflecting a lot lately on why I have chosen the path of becoming an art teacher. The spring semester started last week for me, and I thought I would share this story and its enormity of how I feel it has affected us in our society. I began an Art Education course with a professor asking the class “What was the inspiring moment that made you decide to become a teacher?” Well, I can say for sure that it didn’t happen in a classroom, but rather a night out in a bar.

A friend and I were out for good drinks and good food when a group of young gentlemen started talking to us. We were talking about art, as we were both potters, when these young men starting chatting with us. Somewhere along the conversation one asked what we do, and we responded of course saying we were artists, in particular, potters. Immediately it was asked if we had ever reenacted the scene from the movie “Ghost” ( if I had a dollar every time that happened…). Their laughter prevailed to then again ask us what we really did for work. I went home that night irritated at their gall, and angry at their jokes and insults.

Self Portrait, Charcoal, 18″ by 11″. It takes all kinds of art to teach.

Now, it took a while for this experience to sink in, and honestly, I still think of this incident and simmer. I get upset that those men did not take the Arts seriously, that they don’t appreciate it for its possibilities. More so I feel that this is the general view in America, that the Arts are not valued and have no place of importance. People stereotype artists as people who don’t want to hold a job, that they must be the classical “starving artist”.

Vase, soda fired stoneware. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” art, only the illusion of politically correct.

This brings me back to those young men I met that fateful night. I realized later that their views were not just in poor taste, but rather that it is a perfect example of our school system’s poor education in art! If they had been taught to appreciate art more at the primary level they would have more respect for its creators.

Art education isn’t about pumping out parent pleasing artwork in the classroom. It is about changing children’s perspectives and opening their minds to the world of art. In a world focused on fast thrills and better upgrades people don’t slow down and appreciate beauty. I feel that we can change this beginning in an art room that focuses on experiences not who is “good” or “bad” at making art.

Self Portrait #1, Intaglio, 8″ by 10″. Being unable to see the eyes in a portrait makes it more haunting, but what is more frightening are those who look but do not see.

I want to change people’s perspectives. I want to be that teacher that blows your mind with artwork. I want to teach children appreciation for the arts so that there is more draw for local artists and their wares. I want the arts to flourish, and that means teaching the love for it. Imagine changing the local economy by just changing our views about art.

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6 thoughts on “Two Potters Walk Into A Bar

  1. Perfectly written and I totally agree! I am sending this to my son who is also a pottery Art teacher in the public school system. Thank you.

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  2. Good luck with it, the children need you. As a child in the 70s my drawing was held up in class as an example of how not to draw and I went to great lengths from that day on, to avoid drawing because I knew that I couldn’t draw, so why waste my time *sigh* I always had a deep longing to draw and as a potter myself I always felt the marks on my pots were clumsy and wrong. I did a drawing class in 2011 and I LEARNED TO DRAW with a fabulous teacher.
    Teachers have so much power and are also so undervalued that I wish you all the very best and I wish that when I was a child I had an art teacher with your passion.

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  3. I wish I had an art teacher, any kind of art teacher, in my school years. I only discovered art after I turned 30, but wow! I was drawn into a world of intrigue and fascination and suddenly could see the beauty and awe and intricacies all around me. It’s a world of the senses, a place of bliss. This wonder definitely aught to be shared, explored and passed along to others, for such joy is too much to be held inside.

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