Oh hey there! Wow, I am a horrible blogger. I will come straight out and admit that firsthand. So sorry for any of the few followers I have left! Anyhow, now for something completely different, and very near and dear to my heart.
My 6-year old came up to me the other day and said, “Mommy, I want to be an artist when I grow up!” Now, upon hearing this, my heart leapt! At 6 years old, she reminds me of myself, and that is so exciting to see. You see, I wasn’t any more than six when I first decided that I was going to be an artist. I loved to draw, and I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do for a living than be an artist. Skip ahead a few (okay, let’s be realistic – A LOT) of years and here I am, living my 6-year old dream And I love it. I love what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life than being an artist. When I say that I love my job, I really truly mean it. Not only am I a photographer, but I also design websites for other creative businesses (you can see my work HERE). You see, I get to be an artist all day, every day. I can’t imagine anything better.
As a young student in elementary school in Tempe, Arizona, I was shy and quiet and very studious. I always did well in my classes, did my homework, was put into “gifted” classes with a small handful of my fellow students. But the best part of my day was getting to visit Miss Sears. Miss Sears was my elementary school art teacher. I can best describe her appearance as Cyndi Lauper with brown hair. She was fun, full of energy, quirky, and I absolutely loved her. SHE is the reason that I had a childhood dream of becoming an artist. The last time I was able to visit with Miss Sears (who has since gotten married and I don’t know her married name), I was in high school, and I went with my childhood friend to tell her thank y0u. Miss Sears, you are the reason that I am an artist today.
Fast forward to high school when I took my first photography class. I remember standing outside by the lockers and a girl who was my age came out with a black and white photograph in her hand. I was amazed. Seriously AMAZED. “There is a class HERE that I can learn to do THAT?” I asked. Yes, Photojournalism. And there, an interest in the art of photography was born, in that instant. Ms. Dicesare was my teacher, and I took Photojournalism and Yearbook, and also Photography in high school. I was obsessed with what I could create in the darkroom. To go from an undeveloped roll of photos to black and white prints was an amazing concept and I ate it up.
Now, I wouldn’t say I was an artsy fartsy person at all. I was actually quite studious. Growing up, I worked hard in my other subjects. Hard enough to earn two scholarships to college, which my parents had engrained in my head that you HAD to attend, no matter what, if you wanted to be something in this world. My scholarships actually paid ME to go to college because of my GPA in high school. So, naturally I majored in Art, much to the chagrin of pretty much everyone around me because as you know, it’s very hard to make a career out of art. But that’s what I wanted to do since I was six. That’s what I was born to do. And that’s what I am doing every day and I love it.
So, why am I going on and on about my 6-year old dream? It’s a touching story and I did what I always wanted to do with my life, but there is more.
You see, after she told me this and I did a little happy dance inside, I remembered my husband telling me that there might not be money for “specials” in public education funding much longer. That “they,” the forces that be, always threaten the funding for those classes first because there are other “more important” things children should be learning that take all of their time and focus, namely math and English. This is particularly rampant with the new Common Core standards they are introducing. Apparently, they want everyone to be common, not exceptional anymore. So, math and English are the focus and everything else is fit in if there is time and money. So much time is spent on gearing up for standardized tests and things that bring money into the district. And don’t even make me go on with the rare coloring homework assignment that comes home with my kindergartener. Apparently the sky MUST be blue now. No room for error there.
I see a trend here with “common” and “standardized,” do you? It’s about fitting kids into a mold. Not all kids fit into that mold. The sky does NOT have to be blue. I am living proof that you can be great at math and English, but passion drives. Yes, I could do other things with my life. I can write well, I can do math, still not great at physics, but oh well. But I LOVE art. Art doesn’t fit into the mold. Neither do any of the lost trades. Don’t get me started on students not learning cursive anymore. Do you know in my other business, I paid someone $250 to write ONE WORD for me? She knew how to do the most wonderful, beautiful calligraphy ever and I didn’t. These jobs are out there, but these arts will be lost if we don’t cultivate them in our youngsters.
“They” view these classes, such as art, music, PE, library as “expendable,” “fun,” “needless.” Well, I am here to tell you they are not. My 6-year old self would beg to differ. My passion at six for art has never wavered. At six, I wasn’t concerned with college, I wanted to explore, create, and MAKE something. The possibilities are open for those young ones out there to do ANYTHING. ANYTHING is possible for these kids. Why are we boxing them in with the so-called “essentials?” The only thing essential to a child that young is POSSIBILITY. The possibility to be anything you want. Please don’t take my art away.