My district’s art department just successfully completed its third annual faculty art show. This event is simultaneously the most stressful and most deeply rewarding commitment of my school year.
Here is how you could easily implement a faculty show in your school district.
Step 1: Identify the Need
We don’t have to be told advocacy for our students is a core part of our job. We promote the arts and art education every day for our students. But, I would argue that today’s political climate sometimes feels a little hostile to teachers… and we need to advocate for ourselves as professionals, too.
On a local level, the public seems to value its educators. But, if you read the national news, it is difficult to find many articles that celebrate (rather than criticize) public education. A faculty art show literally says to the public, “Those who CAN, teach.” It shows your stakeholders you are a dedicated, passionate, hardworking professional who practices what you preach. It also demonstrates to your students that artmaking is a lifelong vocation, no matter what your career may be.
Step 2: Work Out the Logistics
Surprisingly, the logistical aspects of this event are fairly easy to orchestrate. Well, maybe NOT surprisingly, because the people who are organizing it set up art shows for a living, right?! Here is a simple outline for getting your department organized.
1. Choose a date.
Consult your district calendar to choose a date that will work for the most art teachers. Be sure you aren’t competing with any other large district events and you don’t inadvertently create extra stress by planning it near another art teacher’s school show.
2. Choose a venue.
Select a place in the district that is centrally located and open to showing work for an evening or an entire week. A school library could be an ideal venue.
3. Call for entries
Email the intended participants with the logistic information for the show. Be sure to include details about when to drop off and pick up artwork. My district uses a Google form, allowing each person to self-report the title, media, and other information. This strategy makes label creation very easy.
If you have a small department, consider opening the show to all faculty, not just your art staff. We experimented with this idea two years ago and are now thrilled to host artwork from teachers, administrators, and even maintenance/custodial staff.
Step 3: Totally Panic… Then Just Get It Done!
With three years of faculty art show experience under my belt, I can confidently tell you nerves and abject terror are just a part of this process. There is something soul bearing about opening your work up to such a large audience. But, remember, this is what we expect our students to do every year for our art shows. So, push through the anxiety and make something!