Lynnsey Patterson ARE 6049 January 19, 2014 My Personal History in Art Education
Art was valued in my parentsâ€™ household. Much of my extended family was either painters or craftsman. Our family home was always decorated with original works and handcrafted furniture. The main source of entertainment for my sisters and I was usually craft or art related. We would draw our own paper dolls, make castles out of toilet paper rolls, and hand-build with different types of modeling clay. Outside of the home, I also had a great art teacher. She encouraged me to apply for art shows and scholarships. She showed me I could be successful in art and was essentially the reason I had to pay very little for my first few years of college.
I was raised in a blue-collar family where I witnessed my parents take jobs I knew they did not enjoy. Their main topic of conversation was always money and bills. I did not want this for myself. This all became concrete for me at age 17 when I took a job at a major retail store. The hours were terrible, the schedule was erratic, and there were no benefits to speak of beyond an employee discount. For so many reasons I hated going to work everyday. I decided I wanted my future career to be something I enjoyed. I did not want to look at my place of employment as a â€œjobâ€? but an extension of my life, something I could be proud of.
For the majority of undergrad I had one goal in mind; become a professional artist. I always enjoyed art and in my mind had already been quite successful with it. I wanted to know everything there was to know about art and art making. Unlike many of my peers in the BFA program I took everything. Sculpture, drawing, painting, book arts, ceramics, and anything else I could find in the curriculum. My philosophy was “If I don’t try every medium how will I ever know what ones I really enjoy?” After graduating with an AA in art at Northwest Community College and a BFA at the University of Wyoming I had all the tools I needed to become what I set out to be.
Unfortunately, life likes to throw curve balls at us from time to time. A month before I graduated from UW I was diagnosed with graves disease. My thyroid had achieved goiter status with its swelling to three times its original size. I was very sick. In order to afford to have my thyroid removed through radiation I chose to stay in school. It was the only way I could keep my student insurance.
Seven months later with a list of thousands of dollars worth of medical issues I had overcome; I found myself back in my hometown living with my mother. I realized that although I would enjoy being a professional artist it wasnâ€™t the profession that was right for me. Not only did I want to have a career I would enjoy but I also wanted medical insurance and enough financial stability to be able to take care of myself.
To accomplish this I knew I had two choices: Apply to get an MFA and eventually become a college professor or get a teaching license and become an art teacher. An MFA felt impossible at the time. I had a sculpture professor tell me over and over through the years how difficult it was to get accepted into those programs. At that point I had not made art in nearly a year. I realized I would be a great teacher. I really took advantage of what the UW art department had to offer and had all this knowledge about art and art making not being used. I enrolled in the UW post-bacc program though the College of Education and received my teaching credentials a year and a half later.
I can be a very stubborn. In Wyoming it is very difficult to land a teaching position with the small schools, high salaries, and one-manned art departments. After all I had been though there was no way I was going to finish student teaching without a job for the fall. I applied everywhere there was an opening. Hard work pays off. The week after finishing student teaching I landed a job in Pleasant Grove, Utah at a charter school where I continue to work to this day. I have since decided to further my education by attempting to get an MA in Art Education at the University of Florida. I still one day want to attempt an MFA in painting & drawing. This degree in Art Education however, is more applicable to what Iâ€™m doing now and will be doing into the foreseeable future. I have found a career I enjoy with health insurance and a salary sufficient enough for me to support myself. Mission accomplished.