This Spring Break, I had the opportunity to travel to a long-time favorite destination of The Smokies in Tennessee. In addition to hiking up to Charlie's Bunion with my husband, we made sure to spend time exploring the Art Museum and River Arts District in Asheville, North Carolina. It was nice to take this time and focus my energies on physical and mental fitness, both of which allowed me to reflect on my classroom and how I can bring in aspects of mindfulness and exploration into the fold of art-making, rather than sticking with the daily grind.
This year has been an interesting one for me professionally. I have had a lot success with students and received professional recognition in the process. It is also the year I have given the most control to my students through the use of theme-based inquiry with choice in the classroom. It is a year that I have grappled with still having one foot in a more open studio, with another in the realm of teacher directed methods.
During my time exploring art in Asheville, I could not help but feel a responsibility to continue on my journey towards leading students to view themselves as artists and push them to explore ideas using methods and means that invent along the way. This became searingly obvious through the work I viewed in the Art Museum and during my time in the River Arts District.
The Asheville Art Museum is a pleasure to attend. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. It is an intimate space that has a wonderful collection of work that includes some of my favorites like Chuck Close, Jim Dine, and Louise Nevelson. It also features an "Art Play(ce)" where children (or people like me) are invited to play with manipulatives to explore ideas with design and space.
In addition, they had an installation in the museum by Sharon Louden called Community, encouraging participants to interact with the shimmering display by photographing themselves within the space and using social media to share their experience. This ability to easily interact was something I enjoyed about this Museum. Even the bathroom was a testament to the accessibility of art through a street-style mural that included broad mark making, wheat paste overlays, and sharpie designs. If you are in the area, I strongly suggest you check it out (and then have lunch at The Chestnut, because it is delicious).