Columbia celebrates teaching artists through career day

By CiaraShook

Columbia’s Center for Community Arts Partnerships invites students, staff and faculty to their first Teaching Artists Career Day on Oct. 7.  The event will showcase Columbia’s teaching artists and introduce students to

the field.

According to Nick Jaffe, editor of the Teaching Artist Journal, it’s a career that melds to the creativity of being an artist with the learning and collaboration of being a teacher.

Melissa Soberanes, communications manager for CCAP, said it is a great opportunity for students, staff and faculty to meet teaching artists who are active at Columbia, as well as in the community.

Teaching Artists Career Day, in the spirit of Chicago Artists Month, is the center’s way of showing how teaching artists impact schools and communities.

Joanne Vena, director of School Partnerships for CCAP, said she would like to see Teaching Artists Career Day as a way for students to have a stronger awareness of teaching artists’ roles built into their overall experience at Columbia.

Vena said that schools and children are undernourished in the field of the arts. She said lots of artists find it necessary to expand art literacy in public schools and communities, whether it is a school in a rural area or an urban area.

“They’re often communities that are under-resourced in terms of cultural opportunity,” she said.

Cynthia Weiss, associate director of School Partnerships/Project AIM for CCAP, said some people feel the arts are not important in this time of standardized testing, but there are plenty of teachers and enlightened administrators who believe the arts are exactly what their schools need.

“It’s a breath of fresh air for students, teachers and principals to have an artist who comes from outside of that system to bring in the curiosity and excitement that the arts bring in any situation,” said Jaffe.

He said in addition to people who are trying to reintroduce learning initiatives back into the public schools, teaching artists are one of the ways it is coming back into public education.

“We want to introduce Columbia students to this field,” Soberanes said. “A lot of students aren’t aware that there’s this option. You don’t have to become a traditional classroom teacher, but there’s an opportunity to embrace your art and use it to teach.”

The idea behind the Teaching Artists Career Day is to inform Columbia students that there is a way to make a living by sharing their talents, passion and skills with other people.

“[The artists] collaborate with teachers and school principals to develop a curriculum that is more engaging and exciting for kids and where kids can work in the arts, but

also use the arts as a means and a tool to explore defiances and a lot of other areas,” Jaffe said.

He said the event will reach every student at Columbia, and the field of teaching artistry is about trying to leverage the overlap that the arts makes with other disciplines, both educationally and socially.

The day will kick off with keynote speaker Eric Booth, a leader in the field of teaching artistry and founder of Teaching Artist Journal. He will be followed by several panels, including “The Gaze: Looking Closely at the Role of Teaching Artists in Education, the Arts and Youth Development,” “Voices from the Field—Artists and Youth” and “Balancing a Teaching Artist Career and Your Art Making Practice.”

There will also be an ongoing resource fair from noon to 6 p.m., featuring the Office of Academic Research, Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Portfolio Center,

ShopColumbia, the Office of Alumni Relations and many other organizations from the Chicago area.