Captain Kirk Got it Wrong

13934643_10157143374125456_727791235420846691_nI know you will enjoy Dara’s writing here as she reflects on her time creating and awakening her brain.  I always enjoy sharing examples like this where teachers are inspired by the creative work they do.  ~EMP

I have decided that Captain Kirk got it wrong. Space is not the final frontier…art is. It has to be, since it is limitless and infinite. Through my exploration into my own creativity and its process, I realized that there is a fathomless depth to each of us and our creative potential. We could be exploring this universe until the end of time. If human beings are lucky enough, we will be. The final frontier within. That has unlimited potential, as far as I’m concerned.

There are so many approaches to one task, and the activities this week [of the Summer Teacher Art Retreat 2016] were a brilliant reminder of how wonderful that fact can be. I watched more than twenty women approach the same set of assignments and have completely different results.

How amazing is that?

How incredibly demonstrative of what artistic expression can truly do when it is unfettered and encouraged!

Over and over again this week, I saw people use the same materials as others but in completely different ways with different purposes and different visions. For me, it was an important reminder that diversity is a beautiful thing.

There is a lesson for society to learn here:  without diversity, there would be no growth or progress; we would stagnate and petrify.”

13912325_10157143362640456_64780507691308231_nMy own creative process differed depending on the task. Sometimes I was inspired by the material, like when we designed our recycled outfit for the fashion show, and sometimes I was challenged by having to see how the available materials could help me accomplish a vision I had in my head. Either way, I found that my creative process centered around flexibility. If I was being inspired by the materials, then I had to constantly adjust my expectations based on in what capacity the materials could be used. Alternately, when I had a vision, I would often need to adapt my design or expected outcome due to what the I had available. Sometimes I would become frustrated that I couldn’t translate what I imagined into reality, but that frustration was an invigorating opportunity to explore my possibilities and solve the problem to the best of my ability.

The experience of creativity and confronting challenges during the workshop process has had a lasting effect on me. I have found that a part of my brain that has been sadly dormant for too long has been revitalized. Immediately after completing my first day at the retreat, I noticed a difference in the way I was viewing items around me and approaching ideas.

It was like a switch had been turned on that illuminated all the possibilities around me.”

13903266_10157133889445456_1537058860272051120_nFor instance, a broken clasp on a travel bag now became an opportunity for me to examine my available items and see how I could fix it. Over the past week, I have found alternative ways to create or alter numerous household items rather than buy a “fix” or throw it out. I had the confidence to know that I could fix my broken deck umbrella rather than have to trash it. I believe that having used my brain creatively and faced new tasks during the last week allowed me to have the patience and perseverance to figure out how to repair the umbrella.

This seemingly mundane example proves something much greater to me. It shows me the power that the workshop tasks had to help me see limitless possibilities to practical applications around me.

Yes, I created artistic projects while in the workshops, but I also built connections that allowed me to perceive solutions, view alternatives, and create inventions.  For these benefits to not only grow from my experiences during the retreat, but to sustain and develop further in the days since participating in the activities assures me that this type of work is essential for the same sort of growth opportunities in my students.”

So, no offense to Kirk, but if he had taken an arts integration course, he would have realized that the brain is the final frontier, and everything we do to expand and challenge it is a step closer to reaching our ultimate potential as human beings. However, like the stretch of the universe above us, I think that it is our infinite challenge to continue to expand our exploration into our own ‘final frontier’ and see what wonderous possibilities it brings to us.

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Article by Dara Merz

Dara Merz is an ELA teacher at Amesbury High School. She has been in this field for over 15 years. Her classroom has a high level of arts integration which she is desperately trying to maintain as she witnesses more and more of the arts disintegrate with the budget cuts. Her personal involvement with the arts includes painting, crafting, and jewelry making. She has eclectic tastes in her creative processes! She is proud that her two children are following in her footsteps. “It is wonderful to see them love to create as much as I do!”
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