My Story Jeff Brubaker - Prairie Junior High Art Teacher - August 2005-Present
When people ask me how long I have been making art for, my favorite response is to inform the curious my age. In the words of Pablo Picasso, “We are all artists as children, some of us just never quit.” It can’t be more true. I, at times, think children are much more creative than adults but I must remind myself that children are constantly exercising the creative parts of their brains. Junior high is an interesting age for the children I teach in terms of development. I usually meet students as children and we graduate them as young adults. Their artistic development is closely connected to realism at this age. Studies will tell you that this is the age that students learn to master realism and other drawing skills or the age that they decide art is just not for them. I don’t believe that every student that graduates from Prairie will do something with art in their future. I do believe that I can teach every student that enters my classroom the value of art and generally why artists make what they make. To me, art has always been something I really enjoy doing and has always been extremely purposeful. When students lack purpose with their art I find where they have purpose and use that as a new starting point for idea generating. Art can be defined as the celebration of one's culture. We celebrate in much more ways than just visual forms. It really doesn’t hurt my feelings when someone would rather document their life with words, though cooking, in song, or through an instrument. If the art my students love is not visual, I meet them where their interests are, so that we can make things that have purpose to the maker.
I started considering myself a professional artist at nineteen. That was the age I was when I was hired to paint my first mural. I have personally painted around twenty murals. There are 4 murals in Will County where I grew up. There are twelve murals scattered around the Dekalb area and N.I.U. campus, where I went to school. I have painted a handful of murals after college and they are mostly around the Will County area as well. Most of my mural painting now exists through the work of my students. My Advanced Art class has seen the installation of 17 murals throughout our district 126 community. I have seen the art department at Prairie change quite drastically with the construction of a fine arts addition and take assurance in our school district's desire to expand creativity instead of cutting it. I do believe that the arts are the most important subject in school. I am honored and humbled to be in position to inspire the next generation to keep dreaming and to Dream Big.
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