Questions & Answers with myself

About ten days ago, I left my job at National Geographic Expeditions to focus full time on art, and to go back to school to become an art educator. Later this month I will begin taking classes at Towson University’s 2nd Bachelor program. The program will last about a year and a half. During this time, my intention is to focus on learning, reflection, and practicing my skills in art making, theorizing, and teaching. For this reason, I think it’s really important to have journal, a place to write and reflect and process my journey. I hope you can journal and journey with me.

Q: Why did you leave Nat Geo Expeditions?
While working at Nat Geo, I learned a lot about business. While well-intentioned with a 72 / 27 forprofit / nonprofit split, my work there was ultimately for another for-profit, capitalist venture that focused on profits so aggressively that it often contradicted itself. The efforts to grow no matter the cost creates a paradox that capitalism tries to blind us from. After the third round of CEO/VP changes, it was clear that the wealth is just changing hands and accumulating with larger companies like Disney and FOX. It made me question, “What do I want to work so aggressively for? What do I want to grow YOY (year-over-year)?”

Q: So what do you want to work for? (working answer)
The answer to the question above is people. Individual people, their mind, and their potential are the only thing in this world that have the ability to do what capitalism seeks – to grow endlessly. Having worked with children for many years as a swim team coach, babysitter, meditation teacher, I love encouraging, inspiring, and believing in the potential of children. Their joy is often infectious, and and I truly believe that they are worth my time, love, resources, support, and talents. In order to be a teacher of others, and to fully embody my belief of human potential, myself being a person, that means a lifelong commitment to growing myself as well. One cannot be a teacher without being a student. So I’m off to school to become a teacher!

Q: Where and why do you want to be a teacher?
I want to teach art in Baltimore City to be able to work with students to organize for equity in schools, and against the oppressive systems – internal biases, institutional racism, perpetual lack of resources and care, capitalistic values of production over humanity and the devaluing of the artist – everything that holds children back from reaching their potential. Many studies show that when children establish strong and caring relationships with teachers, they are more likely to succeed academically, even when factoring out other variables like race, socioeconomic status, and gender. Teachers are the first line of support for kids’ success, and I want to personally invest my life and career into teaching.

Q: Why do you want to focus on art? What does art mean to you?
Art is a visual language that transcends time and words. It connects us together in such a fundamentally human way. Art reflects the culture, environment, and people who make it and gives people the opportunity to form and reflect on their identities and actions in the world. Being an artist with some talent to see and recreate these connections in a visual way, I have a responsibility to use and make art that uplifts and transforms my own heart and mind and those of my community.

Q: What do you want to focus on in your art?
I want to focus on community connection, for without others, I am nothing. I want to focus on uplifting and using all of my privileges to improve the lives of others through art.

Q: What age of kids do you want to teach art?
I don’t know yet! I have worked with children ages 4 to 18yo and each age has its own challenges and joys. Many times it depends on what job I can get! After the completion of my program, I will be licensed to teach art to Kindergarten through 12th grade in Maryland.

Q: What expectations do you have of being an artist / teacher?
I expect to be challenged, to struggle, and to enjoy it. I want to be constantly making and teaching art, growing and helping my students to grow. If you were to ask me, where do you see yourself in 5 years, I will be teaching and making art in Baltimore. Hopefully I will still be writing in this blog for us to find out!

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