ArtsWork designed and implemented a mural at the newly opened Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul
ArtsWork designed and implemented a mural at the newly opened Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul
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Before graduating in May, one thing I noticed during my time at MCAD is that a lot of artists, including myself, have a strong inkling to teach.

That is probably why the teaching artist minor, a program that gives students the skills to be able to teach art while also maintaining a studio practice, is so popular among MCAD students.

There are many options out there for a teaching artist that extend beyond the classroom. In fact, a huge part of being a teaching artist is working in the community. One example of this is a summer youth program through COMPAS, a nonprofit arts education organization, called ArtsWork. ArtsWork hires youth that are low-income, at-risk, or in an otherwise vulnerable situation, often with limited access and opportunities to improve their artistic skills. The youth are facilitated by teaching artists as they create public art and performances. This program is a wonderful opportunity for youth and teaching artists alike, because it allows for creative expression, collaboration, and the opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather! This past summer, I was fortunate to get to volunteer with ArtsWork and shadow some really fantastic teaching artists. As someone who graduated with a teaching artist minor, it’s important for me to get experience in the field right away and I was eager to try my hand at mural painting, which I have not done before.

This summer, ArtsWork designed and implemented a mural at the newly opened Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul. This lovely hidden gem within the city provides a biking path and an abundance of nature including wildflowers, insects, and frogs. We even got to enjoy following the entire experience of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly right on one of the pillars of the mural. One of the youth was very inspired by this, inventing their own plant, the butterfly flower, named so because they first drew butterfly wings before adding petals and completing the rest of the flower. It’s the perfect setting for a mural that takes elements of both the natural and urban landscapes of Minnesota.

My ArtsWork experience only cemented my love for teaching. Being a teaching artist, whether it's in a classroom setting or out in the community, inspires and drives me to keep creating myself. There is nothing like seeing youth, and people of all ages, really, get excited about creative projects. This enthusiasm radiates out from them and reminds me that art really is extremely exciting and absolutely the right career path for me.

I want to thank all the members of ArtsWork and COMPAS that allowed me to have this opportunity. I learned so much through this experience and truly had an amazing time getting to know the youth and the teaching artists.