Interview with Camille DeMarco, Head of Programming at Milton Art Center

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Interview with Camille DeMarco, Head of Programming about TAB, Teaching for Artistic Behavior

Questions by Joan Clifford, Executive Director, Milton Art Center

q: Tell us about you, your background in the arts, why you care about the arts.

a: Creativity was encouraged in my house. I come from a family of artists; my mom is a painter, my sister paints the lost art of egg tempura, my nephew paints, both of my children draw and paint, and my daughter volunteers at the Art Center.

When I was four years old and desperate for a paint brush and couldn’t find one I cut my bangs to attempt to make my own. I tried to glue my hair to the end of a pencil. It was an epic fail, but it speaks volumes about my love of art making.

I have a BFA in Painting and Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. MassArt was introduced to me by my high school art teacher Louis St. Amand. Louis was a wonderfully, kind, and skilled teacher. I spent many hours in her studio painting and drawing. Like a lot of high school students I struggled to find my identity, and art offered me an outlet to help me discover who I was. Louis is who I hope to emulate in my teaching.

q: As Head of Programming at the Milton Art Center you are guiding into place the Teaching for Artistic Behavior, TAB, philosophy at the Milton Art Center. What attracted you to this pedagogy? (pedagogy -commonly understood as the approach to teaching)

a: I first learned about TAB while at Mass Art. TAB is a pedagogy that is focused on supporting divergent thinking and teaching for creativity. I knew intuitively this was how I wanted to teach, and that I wanted to design my classrooms as studios and put creative decision making directly in the hands of my students. TAB has become a transformative model with a focus on creative process over product, supported by the belief that the child is the artist.

q: What are the foundations for Teaching for Artistic Behavior?

a: TAB’s Guiding Principles are:

What do artists do? Artists make art about things that matter to them. Expressing messages and emotions, documenting identities, and spearheading social change are some of the reasons artists make art. Artists reflect. Artists learn to look closely at their work, ask questions of themselves and others, and evaluate progress to determine when the work has met its purpose.

The child is the artist. In PreK-16 TAB classes, students experience the visual arts as artists responsible for their learning. Following introductions to available media, student artists advance their individual artistic processes through exploration and discovery, inquiry and ideation, skill development and artmaking, reflection and revision, self-evaluation and presentation.

The classroom is the child’s studio. TAB classrooms are highly structured studio environments with clearly delineated expectations for self-directed learning in choices of varied work spaces. Available tools and art materials are introduced to students who can then access and arrange these materials independently to initiate and explore their artwork.

q: Can you give examples of artistic behaviors?

a: Mary is an 8-year old who has attended several of my classes, including online classes. She enjoys thinking and planning her projects, and often will thoughtfully work in her sketchbook designing her process before she begins to create. This time allows Mary to engage and reflect about her work.

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