Monthly Mentor

Heather Kaplan (November)
Heather is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Education at University of Texas El Paso. She holds a BFA in Art and a BS and MS in Art Education from the Pennsylvania State University, teaching licensure in the state of Pennsylvania, and a Ph. D in Art Education from the Ohio State University. She is an artist, educator, and researcher. Heather has worked in the schools, museums, community education, early childhood education, and in higher education. As an artist Heather works primarily in ceramics but also enjoys other sculptural materials, drawing, and watercolor. Heather’s research focuses are studio art making and early childhood art education, and she considers her research to inform and be informed by her teaching and artistic practices. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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September 01, 2017

Finding time for our own artistic practice (or, play!)

From: Kristin Vanderlip Taylor

As teachers, we know that “summer vacation” is often a misnomer; we spend much of that time “off” engaging in our own professional learning, attending district-sponsored PD, or planning for our upcoming classes. And once school starts, we don’t stop any of this - it’s ongoing, on top of our instruction. That’s just the nature of the job. But it’s important to remember that we need to take time for ourselves - even if it’s profession related!

Being enrolled in Pepperdine University’s Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy program for the past two years has pretty much eaten up any of my non-teaching time (I wouldn’t call it “free” or “extra”, as we know both of those are a myth when you’re in education!) However, this summer I made it a point to pull out my own art materials and just start playing again. At first, I went through that struggle of not knowing what I wanted to make...and then came that fear of it not being any good. It was my husband who suggested that I stop thinking so hard about it and just have fun. What a notion! I was reminded of all the times I said exactly this to my students.

So, I took his advice and lo and behold, I had fun! I stopped judging the process and tried working in ways I hadn’t before. I found myself back in the flow of creating and was reminded of what I’ve been missing. Now that school has started, I know that my time will once again be much more limited (hello, dissertation!), but I’ve vowed to myself that whenever I’m able to, I will squeeze in even a few moments to play with my art again. I hope that you are able to make that space, too… and just have fun!



Lora Marie Durr

For me, pursuing my personal practice and staying connected to the local art world has been key to maintaining the passion within teaching practice. For years I did not make art other than samples. As a result, I began to lose interest in the content of my teaching. One summer I challenged myself to create a painting a day - 12x12" oil on board. Like you, I didn't know what to make - so I decided to paint the same thing every day for a month, creating different compositions containing one object. The process was amazing and allowed me to rekindle my love for art. The work was okay but lead to more work that was more than okay! Over the past 4 years since I first gave myself this assignment I have created so much work using the same approach - complete the assignment. I don't require myself to paint daily during the school year but I do paint regularly and take classes during the year with painters I respect and admire. My work has grown, my teaching has more passion and my personal sense of well being has improved as a result of bringing art making back into my life. We give our students assignments all the time - I think we should try it ourselves!

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