First teach.

I had a special experience a few weeks ago, thanks to Lacey Hunter over at Loving the Lack. She generously lent me her class, and they kindly put up with my inexperienced teaching methods.

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I had never really taught before, so I was super nervous. This was a home for teenaged girls, but they were very kind and welcoming, an unlikely little family. (Thankfully) not at all like I was at their age. We altered wooden boxes using phototransfer, painting, and collage. I’ve found these to be my favourite “stop worrying about the outcome and just have fun” techniques.

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Just look how awesome they are! I was expecting to be anxious the whole time, but it turns out it is another feeling entirely. You help people make something, and have fun, and make a mess. You get this sort of glow in your belly, so much different than when you make something yourself. You know their work is good, you don’t have to struggle to view it objectively.

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So then I asked the universe to please give me some more opportunities to teach, and it has delivered! Last week I heard from Dana O’Regan about being his assistant teacher for another set of ArtReach workshops, this time on making art instruments with kids.

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Then I was contacted by my new friend Cheryl Lavigne, who teaches grade four french immersion. Her group was selected for the Fredericton Art Alliance/NB Gov’t program to bring artists into classrooms. We’ll be working together with a film and digital media artist to help the students respond to lessons about french language history.

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I’ve been struggling with where to place my focus this year since I am realizing I can’t do everything all at once. As my teacher would say, better to stretch it out on the timeline horizontally than to stack it up and do everything poorly.

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Decisions are hard, and although we like to believe otherwise, there is often no correct answer. In my art practice, when I reach a crossroads in a project, I look for a push in one direction or the other. Resistance somewhere, or an omen if you like. Although I don’t believe they are actually pointing out the right direction, I use these “signs” as an easy way to make the decision. After all, what really matters is that I start moving.

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This collection of unexpected teaching opportunities, I’m going to accept that as a sign to put effort in that direction. My first experience and their beautiful, unique creations brought me a well of joy.

It can be hard to learn art because it is all about making something different, and this is counter to our urge to fit in. I hope to help people get comfortable taking creative risks and identifying their own core inspirations.

Connect/Collect.

Starting out, I wasn’t always very good at taking care of myself. I’m sure everyone can relate, it took me a while to get good at making meals, sleeping right, keeping up in school, making time for exercise and fun. Keeping my head above water seemed like more than I could muster, let alone trying to be active in my community.

Have you ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It says that when your selfish needs are met, you will begin including the needs of others into the equation. In high school I thought that was ridiculous, I could never imagine myself feeling that way.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

But now I’ve got me covered. Mostly. I feel I have a hold on my habits, my mental state. And you know what? Miraculously, I want to connect. I want to help and share and teach and collaborate and create community. Communities of people on a common quest. Because what’s the point of questing if you haven’t got your homies?

This week I’d like to talk a little about some groups I’ve become a part of. They are really great.

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Fredericton Makerspace. Facebook followers may have heard me mention this before. While the first building we had turned out to be unsuitable, work has continued behind the scenes. We were chosen for the Pond Deshpande Centre’s B4Change Social Enterprise Accelerator. Our fearless leader, Philip LeBlanc, has been learning a great deal about how best to move us forward.

We are gathering a growing number of makers: artists, designers, programmers, carpenters, engineers, and many others. The plan is to open up shop in the spring, a membership-based workspace for collaborative learning and creation. We’ll have equipment for a whole slew of disciplines.

If this sounds interesting to you, there will be an information/brainstorming session later in the month at the The Station (attached to the liquor store on York St). If you have ideas about what would be useful to you in a space like this, it is a good chance to have them heard. Check the facebook page or group more info.
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The second group is in it’s very early stages, because it is not quite that time of year yet. What time of year, you ask? Planting season! We are a group of textiles students, alumni, and teachers from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and we are going to plant a community dye garden! I have so little experience with natural dyes but I am very certain I want to learn. Nothing could be better than moving away from harsh synthetics and into complex natural shades. Expect to hear lots more about this when the ground finally thaws!

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Photo credit: Mark Cameron

I have also become a juried member of Emerge Artists Collective, a group of eight Fredericton artists dedicated to creating experimental new works. I had my first meeting with them a couple Sundays past, it was a great vibe and lots of cool ideas. In the works is a show at Government House in October, and we will be occupying both windows at M&T Deli for the month of August. That collection will incorporate the work of local poets. I have a happy history of working with text so this will be a fun project for me. I can’t wait for my Triny Finlay books to arrive!

A Brief History of Written Communication (Detail)

If you would like more information on any of these groups or events, please feel free to contact me any time.

The Cogs of Communication

A Brief History of Written Communication

The Cogs of Communication

Gouache, vellum, tracing paper, newspapers, and dictionary pages. © Allison Green 2012.

Paper quilt with symbols painted in gouache. The top layer (painted tracing paper) represents our initial form of written communication, symbology. Underneath this layer are dictionary pages, which display the next step, formal written language. The piece is then quilted with a wave stitch, showing our most recent development, wireless communication.

Shown in Context/Texture at the NBCCD Gallery in 2012.

A Brief History of Written Communication (Detail)