Earlier this month, Cultivate held their first season of Spring Break classes for children 6-12. In these classes, students were able to work with new mediums, meet new friends, and take home some amazing works of art! One awesome person who made this possible was one of Cultivate’s teachers, Emily Miller (i.e ARTventures with Mrs. Miller). We caught up with Emily to talk about teaching Spring Break classes, her experience with art education, and why it’s important for students to take art classes.
Tell us a bit about what got you into art education.
I've always been interested in teaching and in art. I took extra art classes outside of school in middle and high school and started to hone my talent. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but wasn't quite sure what subject. In high school, I took art classes every year with Mrs. Kotchman and she helped me fall in love with art education.
What’s your favorite thing about working with kids, specifically in an art setting such as Cultivate’s Spring Break classes?
I love the excitement young students have about art. The students in my classroom love to come ready and eager to learn and create every day. Having a space for students to feel safe, happy, and welcome is important. They look forward to coming to art and I am glad they have my class to look forward to. As an art teacher, you must be ready to advocate for committing the necessary resources to prioritize the value of creativity in the classroom. At Cultivate, I know the students wanted to be there and they were willing to try and experiment in new ways of art. It was a quick week, but I was able to get to know the students and their styles of art throughout the week.
Do you have a favorite medium to work in, either on your own time or when working with students?
I do not do much of my own artwork. Since I am a teacher first and artist second, my work is what I create for my students. If I were to create on my own, I love to draw and have been occasionally working in sidewalk chalk for a few years. I also have been painting a few murals and have learned to love the boldness of paint.
Finally, why do you think it’s so important for young people to explore creativity and try art classes? What’s one of the greatest takeaways?
Young people need to explore and try art classes (or any class) because they should learn at a young age what they may want to do. It may be something that helps them grow their talent, or ease their anxieties. I often tell my students that trying something new is like taking a "no thank you bite" of a new food. You need to try it to know if you like it or not in order to continue. Art promotes self-esteem and self-expression and the biggest thing is that students need to be happy with what they are creating.
Follow Emily and all her ARTventures on Instagram at: artventureswithmrsmiller
Learn more about Cultivate art classes including upcoming summer camp sessions at: https://www.cultivategrandrapids.org/summer-art-camps