The following is a reflection written by Connie Gong ’25 earlier this summer.
I’m spending a few weeks at home before my internship begins this summer. I’ve wanted to teach art classes at my old studio since I was in high school, and I felt like now was the perfect opportunity to do so. Initially terrified by the style of teaching (cold calling, blunt honesty, brutal group critiques) when I first became a student at seven years old, I eventually found home in the studio. It was here that I first felt the grease of oil pastel, heard the soft scratch of vine charcoal against newsprint, and smelled the heavy sweetness of Speedball block printing ink. It was also here that I discovered the intense care for art and relentless desire for improvement that thrummed beneath the harshness.
Some of my favorite experiences at the studio were when my older friends came back from college to lead classes and share what they learned. I always felt an immense sense of pride and awe towards them as a friend, and this was heightened during the time I spent as their student. Under their instruction, I became aware of all that I didn’t know. It wasn’t just that my horizons were expanding—new horizons were appearing and I felt weightless as worlds collided, disappeared, expanded, and flipped upside down.
As the youngest in my group of art friends, I didn’t know any of the high school students I’d be teaching. I’d inevitably run into them around the studio and in group critiques, but it was daunting to know that I would be teaching a group of really smart and creative near-strangers. Given how far the studio was from my house (and, perhaps more importantly, my very poor driving skills!), we decided that it would be best for us to hold classes on Zoom. It was a format I personally disliked and found challenging to teach with. I worried about the number of people who would show up, how engaged they would be, and how much they would like my lesson.
My first class combined color theory with the literary school of structuralism and schemas from psychology. I wanted my students to think about how visual arts reflects the things we see and how seeing is a process biased by knowledge. To my surprise, around 40 people showed up to my first class! The students asked challenging questions, created thoughtful work, and expressed interest towards the works of various artists that I was highlighting. At the time I’m writing this, I have two more classes left before I leave for my internship, and I’m so excited to see what the students create next!