Being an artist and an art teacher

Teaching art does at times feel like it might be getting in the way of time I could be spending in the studio. But I recognise that the space of teaching has become a vital and integral part of my artistic practice. Artists have almost always been involved in teaching art in schools. Sometimes this has been described as an unwanted but necessary evil to fund the making of work. Sometimes teaching is described as being an essential part of how an artist, like Phyllida Barlow, thinks about their work and ideas. Sometimes, as in the obvious case of Joseph Beuys or the less well-known Jef Geys, teaching has become an approach to practice itself. The pedagogical role is often the catalyst for the production of the most interesting and engaging elements of an artist’s oeuvre, as in the case of John Baldessari. In art schools the teaching is traditionally undertaken by practising artists. There is an expectation that the person delivering the lecture, leading the group crit or undertaking the tutorial has their own creative practice to bolster their teaching. The point being made here is that teaching provides these artists with an income as well as a critical dialogic space, where ideas are discussed, theories generated and developed.

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