Saturday, January 10, 2009

Southwest Ramblings: Thoughts on Making and Living Art

Lessons in Strange Places

A good many of us are self-taught artists, whether we be in fiber, in painting, in words - whatever. We become immersed in our learning and experimenting, and when we are done we pack up and go back to the rest of our lives.

What about looking into our "regular lives" for the inspiration to learn to increase our artistic abilities? I'm not sure I can really explain what I mean, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I am in the midst of studying for a major math test to "prove" (according to the Bush administration) that I really can teach algebra. Now some of you might be thinking, math, art, learning how to do math from art? This seems to be a stretch.

But it isn't. I sat for three hours in a internet cafe with a friend doing math problems and understanding some new things about trig, and functions, and matrices, and inverses....all the time thinking "Oh my, I really can do this and understand it!" Years ago I would have laughed if you had told me I could do upper levels of math.

Now to get to this point - being self-taught in pre-calculus and calculus, I told myself I could do it, and I WOULD do it. On the way home from our session (people around us no doubt thought we were nuts, as we were laughing about forgetting to rationalize a denominator), I realized that the strategies I had been using were much like my self-teaching with my fiber and marbling. Dean and I worked to learn how to marble, trying, making mistakes, and learning from them. We weren't afraid to try.

I started doing weavings with my fabric, trial and error, some successful, some not. I kept trying, and I wouldn't let myself be negative about what I was doing. My "regular life" as a teacher constantly trying to improve what happened in the classroom served me well as I tried to take those lessons into my new world of art. Since I learned I could work successfully with marbled fabric, I told myself I could learn math. It was only today that the epiphany of taking from one to learn the other struck me.

Usually we think about learning our art, based on our real life. I discovered I could learn about math through my experiences in art.

Linda Moran is a high school teacher and fiber artist who lives in Tucson, AZ. She is really interested in comments and thoughts on this particular post. You can read her blog Marbled Musings and visit her website, The Art of Fabric.

No comments: