Monthly Mentor

Aaron Knochel (October)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Aaron D. Knochel, PhD, is Associate Professor of Art Education in the Penn State School of Visual Arts and an Affiliated Faculty at the Art & Design Research Incubator (ADRI) at The Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on intersections between art education, transdisciplinarity, and social theory. Aaron was named 2019 Eastern Region Higher Education Art Educator by NAEA. Click "GO" to read his full bio.

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March 16, 2019

Can Cannolis Console Tired Feet?

By Holly Houston

I can finally relax.  All twenty-two art students and three chaperones are on the final bus leg back to Maine after being in New York City for a weekend.  This is the eighth year I have done this trip, always on this first weekend in March.

Is it worth it?  I always say yes.  The up-front work is heavy with communication to students, parents, and the hotel. There are fund-raisers to organize, money to manage.  Paperwork to fill out. Schedules to plan.

But then there is the group’s increasing excitement about the trip as the date draws near. Planning clothes and snacks. Making lists of places to possibly visit. 

I hope this trip is not just about the art and I know it is not.  It is about experiencing a weekend in the city that might be different from past experiences. We focus on art in Chelsea, MoMA, and the MET, in cathedrals and other architectural wonders, and on building walls.  Art is everywhere in the city.  We stop at all sorts of fun food places I’ve stumbled upon and tried over the years. We also spend the weekend navigating the subway, asking strangers for directions, giving up seats for older adults, donating to street performers, not being on phones at meals, and bringing a scarf—just in case. These are important things to experience.

What I am perhaps most grateful for are the conversations I have with students as we stand on the subway, walk through Central Park, look at art. We talk about travel experiences, both in NYC and away.  I check in on plans for next year—art school? Gap year? Undetermined? And talk about my own path to my current place in my life.  I ask questions, they ask questions.  I put in a plug for happiness.  We talk about art with mutual excitement: seeing a researched work of art in person, not just online, is equally thrilling to all of us.

It is a very busy weekend and everyone works to curb their complaints about aching feet and develop a bit of tolerance for rerouted trains and extra stops for coffee and leg resting.  At the end of the day, there are always cannolis to be found and savored, and tired feet feel just a little less tired.

I am pretty sure I know where I’ll be early next March—taking another group of Yarmouth, Maine high school art students to New York City for the weekend.  I just hope they don’t run out of cannolis!

Unknown

-HH

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