Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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May 01, 2020

We’re in this Together; Art Educators and COVID-19

“A virus like Covid-19 unfortunately affects some more than others, but it touches all of us in some way.”

-Brian Gallagher, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way Worldwide

Brian Gallagher captured both the shared experience and inequities of COVID-19 in his March 26 blog post. He sparked countless ad campaigns and artistic responses with his statement: “We are in this together.” As NAEA members and art educators, we are mutually living through a historic event both individually and collectively as a professional organization. I’m proud of NAEA’s work in the difficult decision of canceling the conference, collecting COVID-19 grants resources, and keeping a finger on the pulse of support for the arts. Individually, NAEA members work tirelessly to “shape human potential” by quickly transforming into remote learning.

Art Educators around the world banded together to develop virtual art conferences, weekly webinars, Zoom happy hours, virtual journal playdates, kindness community projects, and social media challenges. My NAEA SAL Classmate Jane Montero banded together our class of over 20 art educators for a virtual conference presentation, photo collages of our class with certificates, and weekly Zoom chats. I’m both grateful and inspired by our Art Education community.

Final SAL Class of 2019 Composite Photoshop

But all of this hero work takes a toll on the creative spirit. Julia Cameron discusses in the Artist Way the need to replenish our “artistic reservoirs” to avoid burnout (Cameron 2016). The challenge in a career overlapping our passion and mission in life is giving away ourselves to have nothing left for our own creative practice, our health, and relationships. Because we care, we have to take care. It is our responsibility as art educators to self care. While developing a new series of life drawings in my own creative quarantine, I reflected on my own self-care living in creative quarantine.

I’m honored to use my platform as this month’s NAEA Monthly Mentor to shine light on (1) the work art educators are doing in response to COVID-19 and (2) how art educators are prioritizing their own self care. We’ll meet four art educators (Holly Bess Kincard, Eric Gibbons, Jodi Aker, and Sara Gant) who are co-leading a 30-day social media challenge to focus on self-care through visual journaling. We invite you to grab an old journal or sketchbook and spend 15 minutes each day responding to the challenge. See the prompts at https://bit.ly/JournalCare. Share your responses with #JournalCare.

Day

Happy journaling!

- MH

References

Cameron, J. (2016). Artists way - 25th anniversary edition. Penguin Random House.

Gallagher, B. (2020) Covid-19: We're in This Together, Brian Gallagher - https://www.unitedway.org/blog/covid-19-were-in-this-together

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