Monday, November 4, 2013

Teach with [the stories of] your life :: The ART of a good story

Year after year, there are a few project ideas that I keep around because of how much students enjoy them. For 2D Design, the two that rarely get scrapped are the printmaking one and the fingerprint one. This year I decided to do something unique with these two and instead of doing them separately, the students are going to do a hybrid of them. They are going to do macro fingerprint designs that will be carved into printing plates that they will use to make a set of limited edition prints.

To put an even crazier spin on this hybrid project I am having the students stretch themselves even further and instead of just using Bible verses within their prints, they are also going to integrate visual and typographic elements within the pattern of their macro fingerprint designs so that they are telling a bit of their own life stories. My motivation to do this is both because it will help to pull in some core content learning as well as it affording an opportunity (for my students) to become more effective at the art of storytelling in order to evangelize the gospel in a more personal way.

I never realized it before but as things have worked out for me, story telling is quite an important part of my life. Long before blogging became a thing to do, I journaled about my life and tonight I even went back and looked at volumes of journals that I still have clear back to high school (which is over 15 years ago at this point). When I was in college and blogging still wasn't yet a "thing" I had discovered it and was a part of one of the earliest blogging communities ever where I actually met one of my most treasured friends of my life (though we have been out of touch in recent years).

To date I have created, maintained, and closed upwards of 20 different blog-type web presences that have detailed all sorts of stages of my life (This doesn't count legit Dot coms which I have also established, maintained, and closed for both personal and business purposes.) And when I haven't been blogging and telling the stories of my life? I have told it in other ways like once when I was on national television for one of the most incredible milestones of my whole life because my wedding coordinator sort of convinced me it was a good idea and (thankfully) I never regretted it and feel like I got a good deal since I got "free" videography from the arrangement. More recently, I ended up online telling some of my story of the past few years of my life and the crazy thing about that is that it totally was supposed to be my husband and not me and I was completely reluctant to be in front of any kind of camera at all.

The fact of the matter is this: storytelling is a powerful tool that I don't believe we use often enough in the classroom. For me? It's a natural thing as evidenced by all of the aforementioned and I gotta tell you that for as open and transparent as I am beyond the classroom? I am just as much open and transparent to my student artists with my stories IN the classroom, too. Just this evening, I fielded an email from an alumni that started out with them expressing gratitude for telling the stories I have because they are in a tough spot right now and it's those stories that have given them inspiration to reconnect with me. Coincidence that this happened right as I am on the verge of embarking on a whole unit study on visual storytelling and the importance of it and how to do it better and how it can change someone's life? I think not. I think it's much more of a "God thing" if you ask me.

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