Kelsey Lemon, MAT ’17, describes her experience teaching art at Grant High School
January 31, 2017
Kelsey’s students at Grant High School painted self-portraits as archetypes. They learned about Carol Pearson’s updated framework of Jungian archetypes including the Innocent, the Orphan, the Warrior, the Caregiver, the Seeker, the Destroyer, the Lover, the Creator, the Ruler, the Magician, the Sage, the Fool, and the Trickster. These archetypes appear in various forms throughout literature and culture. Students asked, “How might art support the act of personal transformation or reinvention?” They painted themselves as archetypal characters in a landscape.
I had one student who complained to me every single day that this was the hardest project she had ever been assigned. She would even hunt me down at lunch just to make sure I knew what a struggle it was. Then one day I didn’t hear a peep from her. I cautiously approached her table and saw that she had started painting this gorgeously elaborate painting. She was glowing. When she finished her piece, she came up to me and told me that she thought it was the best piece of art she had ever made.
While the assignment went largely as expected, we had to make some major adaptations to our schedule because of all of the snow. I was grateful to be working with watercolor, rather than something like clay that could have been ruined by a disrupted schedule.
I learned that I am a very inquisitive teacher and that I love to continually ask students to dig deeper and deeper into themselves and their work.
I selected the pieces for the Watzek showcase in order to display a wide range of pieces, in terms of content, style, and which archetype students chose. I felt that the set that I displayed really encapsulated the range of approaches the various students took to the project. Each piece was so completely different from every other piece; I wanted to capture a little bit of that variety within my display.