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Professional Development as Self Care

I’ve been off of my blogging schedule over last couple of months and I am so sorry! But I’m back and I wanted to share with you some of my experiences from the Fall 2022 Alabama Art Education Association (AAEA) conference.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of AAEA and the theme for this year’s conference was Back to Our Roots. We all retreated to the beautiful Alabama woods at Camp McDowell and had the best time. I attended a workshop inspired by the work of Janet Nolan led by the fabulous Dr. Kelly Berwager from Troy University. My bottle cap sculpture seemed to take inspiration from Charlie Lucas and my abstract tie sculpture turned into an owl…but I had the best time creating!

An owl made from old neck ties and a wire sculpture of a woman with bottle cap accessories sits on a table.

I also attended an incredible workshop that focused on Nick Cave’s sound suits let by the awesome Tricia Oliver and Amanda Youngblood. This workshop served as a preview before they take their presentation to the National Art Education Association conference in San Antonio, Texas,  and I know they will absolutely nail it! I really enjoyed learning about Mr. Cave’s work and creating my own mini sound suit.

I was fortunate to lead two full Gelli Plate Printing workshops on two separate days. My students created beautiful works with their Gelli plates as they explored three different mediums: block ink, acrylic paint, and washable markers. I hope they left feeling inspired and refreshed!

Students create prints of leaves.Students hold up their monoprints created with washable markers.Woman holds up a print created with magazine transfer technique.

At the awards dinner, I applauded my fellow art educators who received well deserved accolades and I blushed as it was announced that yours truly will chair the 2023 AAEA conference to be held in…DOTHAN! I am so honored to be trusted with this monumental task and I cannot wait to welcome all of my art educator colleagues to The Wiregrass.

A woman happily stands in front of a mural that reads, "Love Dothan."

So now that you’ve read the play by play of the conference, I’ll get to the reason behind the title of this post. If you have the opportunity to learn from your colleagues across the state or across the street, do it. I also had the opportunity to attend the Art Ed Connect event at the Albany Museum of Art in Albany, Georgia. It was a day filled with art making and idea sharing and it was fantastic!

Man stands at the front of the art class, instructing students how to paint.

Every time I attend AAEA or other hands-on workshops like Art Ed Connect I walk away feeling renewed and energized. Yes, my idea well is restocked but, perhaps more importantly, my heart is always so very full. There is nothing like sitting in a room full of creatives, exchanging ideas and creating art for the sake of creating. The last couple of years have been so incredibly difficult for everyone, including educators. Give yourself the gift of time and sign up for a hands-on professional development opportunity. Whether it’s a conference or a class at your local museum/art center. Speaking of which…WMA has professional development opportunities available to you! From asynchronous online classes to CEUs offered for select Studio Classes, WMA has you covered. Treat yourself!

And I hope to see you all in Dothan for the 2023 AAEA Fall Conference! It’s going to be a blast!

Artfully yours,