A Way to Make Art & A Way to Learn How to Learn Itself
Statement of Teaching Philosophy:
Throughout art education, to make students feel respected, a structure for success needs to be present. It should encourage, if not ensure the growth of creative aspiring minds. Many things help in creating such a structure such as; adequate attention for each student, creative openness, door opening critical feedback and clear directives regarding assignments, grading and more. Moreover, I believe that the core of a rich arts education lies in the balance between technical execution and choice based conceptual consideration. The technical being about how we make and the conceptual about why.
I have enjoyed teaching art using woodworking, ceramics, printmaking, freeform embroidery, and more. It is always a pleasure to watch students grow to understand the characteristics of new art mediums and it is always exciting to watch students open their inner realities to the possibility of failure in doing so.
In many ways, I see the making of art as a process of risk taking. It is moreover an empowering thing that allows us to brake the habitual and get out of our shells. I believe that many of my personal failures as an art student were necessary. Never would I have understood what was possible unless I took that original risk, remained open and continued to receive input from my teachers. And never would I have been able to take that risk unless I was nurtured by my mentors and felt safe enough to do so.
I believe that to learn a craft is only a beginning. To master a craft can sometimes be distracting. But to master yourself and understand your temperament as a creative individual, that is empowering. To watch students finding their voices and expressiveness is a gift that I take the most pride and satisfaction in giving to aspiring creative students, as aspiring artists or otherwise.
SECONDARY SCHOOL LEARNERS
Students in 5th through 12th grade have much to gain from Arts Education.
The process of making art as a means to learn flexible thinking, working memory and self control is not the least of what can be gained from making art.
I believe that Language acquisition, exposure to STEAM subjects, enhancement of motor skills and emotional awareness are some more of the benefits of making art.
As an artist, the tactile way I interact with the world has moreover lead myself to an understanding of a wide variety of subjects. The arts, along with my personal willingness to explore, remain a definite gateway to the developing of multiple understandings.
Regardless of the amazingness of education, it is important to remember that
Art is, as Art does.
As new and diverse methods of education for students with special needs become recognized as not only beneficiary but necessary. The arts and humanities are at times taking the forefront as one of the most highly accessible avenues to academic accomplishment for those with special needs.
Creativity can lead to skill building, emotional awareness, increased independence and better self awareness for many students with special needs
I feel fortunate to have the opportunity at Moore College of Art & Design to work with my second group of special needs students. It is a thrilling process to watch the students overcome boundaries in the creation of art.
I am not a firm believer in talent. To me there is an incredible creative potential in all people. I believe that the idiosyncratic potential of each individual to make art works in their own way is tremendous. And that the only truly finite reality is that we have a limited amount of time in this lifetime to develop ourselves.
The arts serve the world as a means for uplifting the spirit and making way for new and increasingly diverse voices to be heard. They operate as tools for individuals to develop emotional awareness, increased independence, social confidence, finer motor skills and more.
B. A. Thomas
My Name is Brett Alex Thomas. I am an Art Educator and Art Maker whom grew up in West Philadelphia. As an artist whom is very interested in the beauty of memory, craft & time, I have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world.
At the Alfred University New York State College of Ceramics I obtained a Bachelors of Fine Art focusing in sculpture with hours in design. At the Tyler School of Art I obtained a Bachelors of Art in Art History. At the University of California Davis I was awarded a Master of Fine Art in Art Studio Practice. And at the Moore College of Art & Design I learned to teach.
When I make Art today, I continue to draw from my beginnings in the city of Philadelphia and my love of clay. A repeating theme in my studio practice is deconstruction and reconstruction amidst an ongoing search to find magic amongst the objects of the Everyday. Some of my artistic influences include the exquisite craft forms of Martin Puryear, the esoteric beauty of Leonora Carrington’s paintings and the enigmatic explorations of sinks created by Robert Gober.
Increasingly, my artistic influence and inspiration to make art has become aligned with the practice and purpose of Art Education, social outreach and community empowerment. As a creative individual I feel strongly about balancing my personal practice with real experiences and a strong social grounding.
MY SCULPTURAL WORKS
Inspired by Memory
Memory is a strange thing. On occasion, it keeps us focused on the intensities of the past. Scientists now believe that our memories are re-written every time we recall them. To this end, I am fascinated by the interplay of recollections, the meaning of truth within them, and how they synthesize. I sometimes create sculpture through the craft manifest that is my studio practice and skill set.
A WALL MADE OUR WAY
VERGE CENTER, SACRAMENTO, CA
THE CLAY STUDIO'S "SMALL FAVORS"
March 05, 2017
In Teaching & Education
YEAR LONG ASSIGNMENT AT SHENZHEN VANKE MEISHA ACADEMY IN 3D PRINTING.
I have been challenged this year through the teaching of 3D Printing in Art & Design for a 100 percent English Language Learning population. The one year assignment has been fascinating. With the use of 8 3D-Printers and a computer lab, I have successfully educated students in the use of filament based additive manufacturing. We have used the 3D Printers to make sculpture and to make works of functional design.
MASTERS OF EDUCATION COMPLETED AT THE MOORE COLLEGE OF ART & DESIGN
I have completed a second masters degree focusing in Art Education with and Emphasis in Special Populations at The Moore College of Art & Design. As someone with a string art background and a studio art practice it was exciting to learn to utilize art making as a vessel for learning in many ways.
PROFESSIONAL ARTIST EXHIBITION AT THE MAIN LINE ART CENTER
I Created a new Crank Box Sculpture this year to show at the Main Line Art Center.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WITH THE UNIVERSITY CITY ART LEAGUE
I am happy to have had a community engagement workshop during West Philadelphia Jazz night in Cedar Park. It is exciting to be able to contribute so directly to the community that I grew up in. I held a community engagement workshop utilizing paper circuits in the park. With LEDs we made a clothesline art show glow.
TEACHING ARTIST IN RESIDENCE AT SPIRAL Q PUPPET THEATER
It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to teach at three Philadelphia public Schools This year. Alongside Philadelphia's Spiral Q Puppet Theater and partnering with Education Works I was fortunate enough to bring visual arts education to Penn Treaty High School, Lincoln High and Samuel Fells High School.
ARTWORK FEATURED IN THE PHILADELPHIA CLAY STUDIOS "SMALL FAVORS" EXHIBITION
It was a pleasure to ride my sculptural work over to the clay studio in my bike basket for their annual "Small Favors" exhibition. And I always love good news. For interested parties Small favors XI, "Think Inside The Box," will be running through April 30th.
RECENT EXHIBITION IN WEST PHILADLEPHIA
March 03, 2017
I had a fun installing a temporary art show at West Philadelphia's "A Space." It is nice to see that multifunction spaces like this can hang on in West Philadelphia even after the area has undergone so much change.
I hope my work interests you. Contact B.A.Thomas today to learn more about the my visions of Art Education & Skill Building.
With many experiences, Art Making & World Travel amongst them, I have found that a healthy fool hardy mentality can arise. And that true happiness comes from doing what you truly love.
"I don't know what you mean by country music. I just make music the way I know how."
To master a craft can sometimes be distracting. But to master yourself and understand your temperament as a creative individual, that is empowering. To watch learners finding their creative voices is a gift that I take in giving to aspiring creative students, as aspiring artists or otherwise.