I always ask myself, “Why did I study art”? I should’ve followed my father’s advice and become a nutritionist…I’d be skinny and have money! However, life has brought me to where I am today, an intermediary position between learning, creativity and the individual. Wow! That’s definitely a handful!
I also won’t pose the question over what is Art, because Art is life itself, and it’s so hard as art educators to get other mortals to understand the magnitude of that word. For arts educators like ourselves, artistic education carries a tremendous amount of weight. It’s teaching our students that art is what perseveres over time, the indispensable parts of our culture, the patrimonies of humanity, the beautiful and the ugly, mediums of experimentation, the mess and the cleanup, balance and aesthetic…and so much more.
I began to teach 32 years ago in my island of Puerto Rico. I’m a mosaic artist and a painter, but I love seeing the look of curiosity on a child’s face when I give them the opportunity to experiment and reflect over what they are about to commence. I don’t have the words to describe that satisfaction. I settled down in Indiana in voluntary exile still loving and missing my homeland, my family, my friends, my fellow artists and my students. What convinced me to make this radical change from the heat of the tropics to the cold winters with a visible changing of the seasons, was a desire for cultural diversity assuming the concept that art is universal and that through art, barriers are dropped and people become closer.
Throughout my professional career as an educator, my students have validated for me the important role that art plays in education and the sensibility that it can create thanks to the history hidden behind its works. The impact that art has on the daily lives of students burdened by so much stress, exhaustion, social issues, family crises, emotional breakdowns, etc., is absolutely necessary for the healthy formation of individuals who will one day form a key part of our society.
For now, I want to conclude with the words once spoken by Pablo Picasso, “If I don’t have red, I use blue”. I refuse to give up on arts education. There is always something new to teach and learn, something to tell, and something to paint. I give it my all.
About the Author
Margarita Garcia is an art teacher at Forest Glen Glen Elementary School. She is also a 2017 Larry Hurt Excellence in Arts Education ARTI Award Winner.