Friday, August 24, 2012

An art room of their own

In my blog post "Is it time to revamp your home?", I discussed the positive impact of having a clutter-free, organized, calming home. I still believe this to be absolutely vital to having a happy and healthy sense of well-being, but recently, I am even more convinced of this necessity.

I was a special education teacher for the last six years. Throughout that time, I went out of my way to make my classroom comforting and welcoming for all students, and found that this had a positive impact on them and their academic performance in my class. This year, I obtained a new position as an art teacher (which I am beyond excited about)! While being further introduced to the school after accepting the job, I was told that I was assigned to Room 511 (quite a nice number!) and that it would be the new art room. Upon entering the space, I came face to face with light brown walls and science artifacts galore. Although beyond grateful for its huge size, large sinks, literally bullet-proof (great for art) tables, tech-savvy connectedness, lots of storage space, and view of the skyline windows (that's right!), I still noticed that this was not a space that felt beautiful, inviting, or creative. Understanding that in order to be creative and feel good, it greatly helps to be in a space that encourages whatever the purpose of said space is, I set out to make sure the room would feel like a creative space for students.

As I was coming up with ideas to transform the room, or "artify" it, as I like to say, I was reminded of the essay A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf. In this potent piece of writing, she conveys that in order to create, a woman must be able to provide for herself and have an actual space that offers the ability and physicality to allow for what's inside of her to come to fruition. This essay moved me when I read it in college. Many people don't have the circumstances that easily allow for their inner essence to be brought into the world, and Woolf sends that message so clearly. For me, one thing that has always helped encourage my inner creativity to flourish is having a beautiful space to abide within. This gives one more freedom to let their inner light come out.

Especially because I am now an art teacher, I feel vitally responsible for directly encouraging creative growth in my students. Therefore, I knew that I needed to create the best possible environment for that to be able to happen. First on my list for creating this space for my soon-to-be students (who just so happen, Ms. Woolf, to be all girls) is to paint the walls a gorgeous periwinkle purple. Warm, inviting, and beautiful, the color just seems to vibrate the words "You are wanted and welcome here." Next, I'll make sure that the cabinets and storage fixtures don't impede the natural energy flow through the room. I'll hang bright and sparkling decorations in strategic locations, make sure lots of natural light shines everywhere, cover non-relevant science storage areas with colorful abstract paper art, organize materials in a logical way, and ensure that music will be a continuous part of our classroom environment. Finally, I'll check in to see if the girls love the space, and if they don't - if something is missing - then we will just have to figure out what they need in order to love it, and add it.

I want to make sure that these students have the best environment possible for tapping into their creative spirits. They, like us all, deserve a space that is beautiful, so that they feel more beautiful in it. They deserve an inviting place to learn, explore, and express themselves. They deserve "a room of their own," and maybe, hopefully, for some of them, this will be it.

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