Monday, October 8, 2012

WiPs: "Extra-dimensional" - OpArt study | 3D Design

Every year I do an Op-art study but normally I keep it to the 2D Design classes. I have had this idea pinned to my art education project board on pinterest for I don't even know how long and this year I felt it was finally time for me to give the multi-dimensional work of optical illusion studies room to expand in the 3D Design studio art class. 

So here are some questions I have been thinking about... when you teach in your classroom... 

1. What do you use to inform your teaching decisions or methodology of how you actually instruct? 

2. Do you ever use visual art and teaching the creative process as the vessel to deliver a lesson/message beyond just teaching students techniques and art appreciation?

One of my goals (always) is to teach my students just as much about visual art as about life. Because I am a follower of Christ, this means that my worldview is shaped by Christ's teachings in the holy gospel. I see my mission field as being my classroom and my school community and it is always my goal to align the hearts and minds and SOULS of my students with belief in and devotion to the Lord's intelligent design and message of salvation and grace.

Now, I understand that I might have already lost a whole lot of my readers already based upon what I just said. (Seriously. They were gone as soon as I made mention that I am a Christian.) I am going to keep talking though to whomever is still here - either because you, too, believe in what I believe, or maybe because you are just curious about what more I could possibly say.

Here's something that you might not expect (that is VERY personal): I am a Christian now and I work at a Christian-school (this means I work in ministry) and I am very VERY vocal about my beliefs and commitment of being a Christian but I have not always been this way. I was not raised in the type of community I now live and work within and I only committed myself to walking and talking in this life of Christian faith almost nine years ago in my 20s. Before that, I led a life of serious debauchery (for lack of any other better word) and it has cost me an immense amount that I have had to make amends in order to find the peace and providence I now have in my life. My life has been a testament of things that include serious abuse, major illness, pushing myself to the brink of death (more than once), and then being delivered from all of it. And the punchline there - the delivery from all of it - came in the form of Christ and my commitment to following His teachings and that is how I came to be a Christian. 

Anyway, perhaps at one point I might share my testimony in greater detail than the very abbreviated version above but that's not the point here. The point is that my own experiences of life and with visual art have taught me that visual art and the creative process can be a really beautiful vessel for sharing some of the serious life (and faith) lessons that I have so far. I regularly use projects and daily conversation with my students during class to "unpack" (as one of my good colleagues like to say) all of the incredible things the Lord has blessed me with in my life. I even mean the blessings that might not seem like blessings because when they were happening and even after they happened they were really very tragic. (That's not an exaggeration by any stretch.)

I am a firm believer that the Lord gave us visual art in order for us to use it to understand Him better and draw nearer to Him. I believe that when we create (even for people who are not believers in Him), it fills us with something that is indescribable because HE is indescribable and when we create as He created (because we were created in His likeness and can imitate Him every and any time we create) - we are only adding into His intelligent design that already exists. 

Earlier today, I ran into my department head and we made an attempt to update each other on current doings and happenings in no less than five minutes. She reminded me of this one thing: "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it!" How easily I forget such a truth exists especially  in the moments when I need to remember it most.

When I introduced this project idea to my 3D Design students, I certainly did let them know that it was something meant to teach them about Optical Illusion artwork but the overarching theme (that they should push themselves to understand) is that the Lord is multi-dimensional. He exists both within and beyond the boundaries of time and space and sometimes (like optical illusions) what He really looks like is far from what He is. Apart from optical illusion art, He can put a message within a mess, He can take a tragedy and turn it into a triumph, and He can use something broken and transform it into something amazingly and astoundingly beautiful. And the way He does this is through us and with us. This means that despite what we might ever feel or think or see - He is sovereign and almighty and that means there is nothing above or below what He can and will do. It's just a matter of us submitting ourselves to Him and acknowledging the tools He readily offers to us to accomplish His might works.

If you are not a believer and you have made it this far in this posting, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share this much with you. I know it's not easy to hear this type of thing and be preached to because I honestly was once a disbeliever and a non-believer myself. It kills me sometimes to have to take stock of my own life and realize how much I had to go through in order to finally see and ACCEPT and embrace what real truth is since (in the process) I have lost so much. Still, I can look at the whole picture (the BIG picture) and see that if I had to lose my whole world to gain the amazing grace, always new mercies, and everlasting faithfulness of the Lord, I guess then all of that and even more would make it worth it on any and every given day of the week.

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