Unlimited Solutions through Metaphoric Awareness
Sometimes we may find ourselves in life situations that may seem to have no immediate solutions, but when I examine and reflect a bit upon my everyday life, I seem to find quite the contrary. This semester officially concludes my 10th year of college level art teaching. I am blessed and grateful to have so much continued teaching opportunity simultaneously between the same 4 colleges and universities here in NY. On a mental level when I thought about this amount of time it induced a reflection session appointment with myself. As I looked through my calendar I began experiencing some thoughts. Through teaching at this level I have been given a platform to create new courses, develop curriculum, publish content, install and generate archival course blogs, experiment with new technologies, work with amazing people, share my passions and this list just grows and grows. Wow, a lot happens over the course of ten years. I could have never imagined what I would have learned and or experienced at this point when I signed up. But something else occurred to me in this thinking space. Each week I set aside a 30-minute appointment with myself to reflect upon my week. This is simply quiete time. No music, internet, art making, phone calls or any other kind of distraction. It is an intentional meditation to just reflect and see what comes to me. Stillness = Clarity. Last week, I had a very interesting experience in my quite space as I thought about this. It even dictated that I apply a little bit of math. For the most part I teach between 8 and 9 courses each semester, and 3 or 4 over the summers. So that is about 21 courses per year on average. Most classes have between 12 and 23 students per course (most are over 15.) On average, lets say that I have about 336 students per year. Lets multiply 336 students per year x 10 years of teaching this way. That is a pretty accurate total of 3,360 college students that I have had in my classes over my career thus far. This does not count the high school residencies and workshops and other teaching related-ness to other such-ness related related-ness…. So lets get back to the number 3,360. One average, each one of my classes will complete between 4-7 individual projects for each course. This means that each student will generate something tangible in each of my courses. This could be anything from drawings, paintings, prints, collage, sculpture, digital art, design, photography, and various forms of writing and oral presentations. The fact is, if you multiply 336 people per year generating multiple variations of the same projects and their principles, and this means, especially at the foundation level, (students will learn basic skills that prepare them for intermediate level art classes in their selected major) when my students are exposed to even the simplest project of understanding how to use and apply positive and negative space, no two students ever show me the exact same way to understand and execute this process in tangible form. It only expands into variation. Thousands of them, and this is not slowing down anytime soon. Unlimited variations? Keep in mind, a basic positive and negative space assignment is only one out of the 4-7 projects that each class will work on, so even at the lowest number, if 336 students complete 4 projects per year (fall, spring & summer terms) that is 1,344 different examples of executing the projects that I am observing in process from start to finish. This does not even account for the critique dialogs about the works in a presentation format. I am using the lowest number of projects as an example, so if we multiply the estimated lowest number (4 projects at 1,344 examples per year) by 10 years, I have witnessed over 13,440 examples and variations of how these projects can potentially be executed. How can the human brain process this number and amount of energetic variation? When I think about this in this particular context it becomes a great metaphor. The metaphor is indeed a spiritual one. It becomes Meta because it goes beyond my full comprehension of something that I have an awareness of. When we look up into the sky we can physically see the incredible vastness of it, but at some point there is that moment when we realize there is not a beginning to it nor an end, it simply continues beyond what we can physically see. You may even take it for granted unconsciously because it is so vast. So here I am pondering, what is my relationship to this as an idea? Over 13,440 examples of creative ingenuity presented to me by my students so far. It is yet another amazing metaphoric awareness for me to take a step back, and realize my own potentials. I see only variations to the same series of projects, year after year, student after student. There is only an abundance of variety. Things can always be another way.
How have your own life experiences generated similar evidence? I want you to share them here.
Indeed, sometimes we may find ourselves in life situations that may seem to have no immediate solutions, but is this really the case? In what ways are you experiencing something similar to my experience? Are you willing to take a step back to reflect upon your everyday occurrences to find deeper meaning? What is your world showing you each day that you may be missing? The days are speaking to us whether we are aware of it or not.
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