I am planning my eleventh trip to teach in Australia. It will likely finish with a six day master class titled, “Marking Places and Making Spaces”. I am looking forward to going back, looking forward to teaching Australian students. They immerse themselves so much in the classes I teach there. This image is one I took of part of a white board in a class I taught there in 2007. I like to capture the essence of workshops that I teach by recording what I drew there to help a student understand what I was talking about. So much easier to have a marker and board to illustrate the possible forms for containment. There is the pentimento of what was important the day before that is a constant reminder of how we alter our ideas and how we want to hold them…..a book? a basket? a box? or another form dictated by the very subject and our reaction to its importance.
During an un-needed point in the very class this and other photos of the white board were taken from, I found the following notes in my sketchbook of that time. Here is an excerpt that perfectly describes my times with Australian students.
Notes from 2007 on Teaching in Australia
“Fourteen of them are here and I interview them all to find their personal direction and get them to contain their passions to a manageable place that has lids, doors, pages, covers, bags and baskets – how much of all this do they want to conceal or reveal. Some of those working with the personal stay quiet and have the materials needed. Others might ask my input on materials and form. Then they, too, go quiet and leave me out of their next decision. Now I am only the direction sign.
I envy them at these moments of discovery, adjusting, learning and note-taking. So I busy myself with making another sample, drawing and writing on the board, and try not to hover too close to them.
Later I will make the rounds again, one by one, to see if I am needed or not. If I am, it is usually a technical problem, easily solved while they let me handle their work and materials. They will also share why their work is taking a particular form. How it all fits around some thing that matters to them.
This is the gift they give to me – letting me in to help make the spaces and places for things that matter.”