I’ve been thinking a lot about arts in Anchorage, and Alaska. This post is a bit of a ramble, but if you read it, I’d love to hear what you think!
Yesterday I toured Ashley Griffo’s studio (Ashley Maury Jewelry) and learned about her jewelry making process while semi-surreptitiously coveting her work (she has a new line of gorgeous, sculptural bracelets that I love). It’s amazing how much work goes into one little piece of wearable art and how many crazy looking tools (Blow torches! Giant saw-like things! So many hammers!) are part of the process.
Check out this video to see for yourself: Ashley Maury | Jewelry Designer. That blow torch has some serious firepower. Not in the video: the adorable shop dog, Wilco, who keeps Ashley company while she works.
Visiting Ashley underscored an interesting conversation I had earlier in the week about the arts: Artists are essentially small business owners and entrepreneurs, though we seldom think of them that way. It’s easy to dream up a romantic images of someone painting the day away or just hanging out, making music. But then there’s the booking, the marketing, the financials, the branding, administrative work, and all the other things that accompany being in business for yourself. When you think about all those tasks, it’s amazing that artists have the time (or energy!) to create. Just another reason Ashley, and all the other artists out there, are so impressive. Scott Clendaniel, of Real Art is Better, blogs about the business of being an artist – it’s an interesting look behind the scenes of his life as a painter.
If you’re interested in the arts in Alaska, the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA) is hosting Latitude: 2014 Arts Convergence a statewide arts and culture conference in Anchorage May 1-3. Here’s a bit more the conference:
Latitude offers traditional conference elements such as panels, plenary speeches, and networking opportunities, along with ways to connect with individual artists, arts organizations and their communities.
As part of the conference, ASCA is offering professional development training for artists and musicians as well – a great opportunity for artrepreneurs!
A close friend of mine is a Waldorf teacher, and I love talking to her about different styles of education. If you’re not familiar with the Waldorf philosophy, here’s an overview:
For the Waldorf student, music, dance, and theater, writing, literature, legends and myths are not simply subjects to be read about, ingested and tested. They are experienced. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate a lifelong love of learning as well as the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be individuals certain of their paths and to be of service to the world.
I don’t think there’s one style of education for everyone – Waldorf may be ideal for some students and not for others. But, I do believe the arts have an essential place in education and I like the way Waldorf education incorporates them (as well as movement) throughout all subjects in different ways – even knitting has a place in the curriculum.
I definitely lean towards STEAM, not STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Mathematics). Companies like Boeing seem to agree: During TEDx, I learned that they prefer to hire people with a high capacity for “object play” – essentially, using your hands to play with objects as a child helps your brain develop beyond just manipulative skills, which Boeing assigns value to. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that art also aids in brain development. In fact, I found this on the School Superintendents Association website:
Certain brain areas respond only to music while others are devoted to initiating and coordinating movement from intense running to the delicate sway of the arms. Drama provokes specialized networks that focus on spoken language and stimulate emotions. Visual arts excite the internal visual processing system to recall reality or create fantasy with the same ease.
Check out this article from the Anchorage Daily News: Home-grown original: Scott McDonald balances work, life, and art. Another artist, making it work.
I love finding the arts everywhere. And I feel like there’s a rising tide of arts awareness and opportunity to participate in Anchorage.
What do you think about the arts in Anchorage and Alaska?