This will likely be a lengthy entry given the many years and thousands of young and old people who I met along the way, in fact I will probably be compiling this into a book-like format eventually. There are a multitude of stories and adventures that occurred within the walls and outside of what once was the "art" room appearing in the above photograph. I always found it both interesting and inspiring that there were a wide range of sometimes conflicting expectations of what "art class" should be like.
I must confess that I did not always follow the "great plan' that transformed, evolved, and often was radically changed on an annual basis. Like most of education, there was always someone.attempting to reinvent the wheel. My belief has remained consistent that art could not be "force fed" externally, it had to develop naturally from within. A passion for creativity could be developed in most everyone but it would require a great deal of patience and perseverance, and often a commitment of time. I think that in part explains the "cookie cutter" approach to teaching art. It is certainly much easier to specify where the eyes should be pasted on a piece of paper, what color they should be, and where the placement of the lips should be. I am going to share a tiny bit of my "philosophy" now and then, but more importantly I would like to share the inspiration and wonderful contributions of my students. Don't be surprised if you find yourself among the many stories henceforth. At times it may be necessary to "read between the lines."
Within the walls of this room, a hundred different events occured throughout the day. Ceramics, drawing, painting, designing, cartooning, mask-making, print-making, sculpting and photography among others. For many years it served as a "sanctuary" of sorts and a "safe zone." Many stressed out students enjoyed an opportunity to relax and become creative during lunch or after school.
Many years earlier I visited a private school in the Bronx. While there, I met an artist-in-residence who was working full-time within the confines of a relatively small room. His approach was to provide a space where students could stop by, as available, to work on their individual art projects. Traditional classical sculpture blended in with abstract painting, drawing and cartooning shared the same table. The artist was an inspiration to his students who were each able to excel at their own pace. Grading and competition were not a concern, guidance, learning, and development were more important.
My first cameras were an 8mm Keystone and a great big box containing a tiny Kodak Brownie "Holiday Flash" and all the equipment necessary for lighting and film development. I recall jumping for joy when I viewed my first self-processed image including fingerprints, dust marks, and faded grey edges! The joy of my chemical darkroom work had begun!