At Illinois State University, students pursuing either an Art Education B.A. or Art Education Endorsement are required, by the department, to engage in both rigorous coursework and extracurricular art-related experiences.
These experiences are broken down into two categories: PAL 1’s and PAL 2’s. “PAL” stands for “Professionalism, Advocacy, and Leadership”. PAL’s are, to put it simply, experiences that reinforce foundational teaching dispositions in art educator candidates.
Anastasia and PAL 1’s in Spring 2021
A PAL 1 is a somewhat passive engagement in the world of art. This can be going to a museum, reading articles on art, attending art education conferences, or even watching E-conferences such as TedTalks.
I decided, this semester, to join the National Art Education Association, or the NAEA. The NAEA was founded in 1947 and is, according to their website “the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts and design education professionals.” As a member of this organization, one can attend conferences, receive the monthly NAEA journal publication, and engage in a community of art education professionals. The goal of this organization is to “champion creative growth and innovation by equitably advancing the tools and resources for a high-quality visual arts, design, and media arts education throughout diverse populations and communities of practice.” So far, I have utilized the resources available to NAEA members during my lesson planning and unit planning processes. Being a part of this organization has offered my structure as I approach the work of crafting units and lessons for my students.
My second PAL 1 experience in the Spring of 2021 was my visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. Among visiting most of the many collections at the institute, I also attended the new Monet Exhibition; this exhibit will only be offered for a short period of time, so I decided I needed to see it.
I saw many of the exhibits; my most favorite being American Gothic by Grant Wood. Wood painted the work on something called “Beaver Board” in 1930, and its first-ever public display just so happened to be at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930. In that same year, it went on to win the third-place prize of $300 in the Annual American Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The most interesting thing about this painting, though, is that the subjects apparently do not know each other at all. The woman is Grant’s sister, and the man is Grant’s dentist. For so long, I thought these two were an unhappy rural couple. Now that I know they aren’t, it makes this painting even more intriguing.
I truly enjoyed all of the exhibits; I am so lucky to have the AIC so close to my home. There is nothing more constructive for an art educator than to submerge themselves in a world of art where great minds crafted beautiful, thought-provoking, and soul-touching artifacts. Some other honorable mentions within the museum include Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso, Nightlife by Archibald John Moley Jr., Sky Above Clouds IV by Georgia O’Keefe, The Bedroom by Vincent Van Gogh, and all of that ethereal Monet collection.
Pal 2’s In the Spring 2021 Semester
A PAL 2 is a more active engagement in the world of art and art education. These activities can include selling art, winning art awards, presenting one’s work at a conference, or organizing art education-related events.
This semester, I engaged in quite a few PAL 2 activities. First, I opened my Etsy Shop, The Painted Fox Studio Shop, in early January. I also sold two commission paintings in that same month, sold stickers, and added multiple listings to the store. During this engagement, I learned a lot about how to run a small business, how to find and set up vendors, and how to advertise my work to reach a larger audience.
My second PAL 2 engagement this semester was having my art featured on the channel of Ordinary Sausage, a famous food YouTuber. My fan art was featured in his Gyro Sausage video and now hangs permanantly in his home.
For my final PAL 2 this semester, I facilitated a student-led interview with the artist, Dean Mitchell. I taught a unit of art to middle school students at the Regional Alternative School in Bloomington, IL and we focused our studies on both watercolor and the works crafted by Dean Mitchell. Students generated questions surrounding the essential question: What is an artist? Then, Dean Mitchell kindly agreed to meet and respond to the student-generated inquiries over a Zoom-based interview meeting. At the end of the unit, students produced watercolor paintings with subjects of meaning and had their work displayed at the Bloomington Public Library in a community art show.
These “Professional, Advocacy, and Leadership” (PAL) activities have grounded me as I work to approach the work of teaching art in a thoughtful, meaningful, and constructive way. Because I was so invested in the world of art, I was better able to share that passion with my students.
I am so proud of all the things my students can do, have done, and will do. These PAL activities have only reinforced that belief for me.