A Lasting Impression
I met Beth on a college campus. She described our meeting as serendipitous, as she had just been thinking about Miss Akens, her eighth-grade art teacher, while attending an art show nearby. She was eager to tell me how this teacher forever changed her appreciation for art.
I took an art class as an elective in middle school. I knew I lacked artistic talent, but I loved looking at the student work displayed outside the art room. Halfway through the first semester, I felt like a failure. We were studying impressionism and the works of artists like Monet and Renoir. The other students were creating pieces with perfectly thin brushstrokes, while mine looked like it was dabbed with a big foam brush. When Miss Akens walked by, she commented on the light and movement in my painting. She could tell that I didn’t buy it. So she took my painting and hung it on the other side of the classroom. She instructed me to stand back and look at it. She told me to squint and look through my eyelashes and explained that some pieces are meant to be viewed that way. Miss Akens found something beautiful or interesting in every piece. She taught me that art is subjective and isn’t supposed to be judged. Rather, it is supposed to express the soul of the artist and evoke emotion in the viewer.
Miss Akens forever changed my appreciation for art in all forms. Rather than judging any piece as good or bad, I try to see the soul of the artist. I reflect on the emotions it evokes in me. Most importantly, I appreciate how brave the artist must be to put that visible piece of soul out into a world full of judgment. Thankfully, there are people like Miss Akens who open our minds and our hearts and see the beauty in every artistic offering.
Beth’s story caused me to think about the way impactful teachers view their students and the world. They look for the beauty hidden in the mess. They try to see the soul of each young artist. Most importantly, they appreciate the process instead of judging the product. Miss Akens gave Beth the chance to view her work and the work of others through a different perspective. When did a teacher help you see things differently? Share in the comments below.
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