Friday, June 1, 2012

Gerard McNeil: I Carry Two With Me


Instead of notebooks, I use what I call my idea books. I use these idea books for the planning of community based art education programs in my present role as Education and Outreach Curator with Veith Street Gallery Studio Association / Visual Connections Project. As you delve deeper into these idea books, you will find a number of educational programs or projects at various planning stages, requiring me to jump back and forth between these programs and projects. When I do share these idea books with others, people tell me that they feel like they are almost moving back and forth in time.

Very seldom will you find any sketches or drawings in my idea books, but there are a few. Numbering in the fifties, I have been using these idea books for the past twenty years; before this I used lined and unlined note pads. I still have a number of these old note pads that I have used for photo and art projects that go back more than twenty years. I have a separate studio journal and sketchbook for these projects.

I never leave the house or office without my idea books. In fact, I carry two with me, the one I am presently using and the last idea book I was working with because there is always overlap of ideas and projects from one idea book to the next.

In some ways I engage a project or program in my idea books in the same way I engage a visual arts / photo project. In my art practice, I remain open to the found or discovered photographic images. These images then lead me in new directions as I incorporate drawing and printmaking with the photographs. As an educator, I am intrigued by and open to other art and adult educators' practices and methods. Because of this, I sometimes find new ideas and methods that I may or may not incorporate into my own practice. Just like the constructed photo / drawing images, some of the incorporated methods or learning ideas from other educators become very successful, while others are not so successful.

I also use these idea books to reflect on programs that I have facilitated. This process allows me to see what worked and what did not. I will use these reflections in the revisions of past programs or in the development of new programs. Interestingly enough I was very resistant to this reflective process as an education student in university, but now see it as an essential part of my practice.

After attending an institute, I found myself in conflict with the facilitator of the learning program that focused on the creative process. After the program, I sat down and tried to articulate what creativity is. As you can see, I did not complete this as I still trying to figure this out.

A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia Gerard McNeil is the Education and Outreach Curator with Veith Street Gallery Studio Association. Gerard facilitates community based arts education, and professional development programs through the Visual Connections Project for persons with disabilities, community service providers and educators. Over the past twenty-seven years, Gerard has been engaged in a visual arts practice with exhibitions in Halifax, Toronto and St John’s. Along with his experiences in the visual arts, Gerard has been facilitating adult and community education programs more than fourteen years. Paralleling this experience is some twelve years in the Human Services field working with persons with disabilities.

Informing these experiences is an equally diverse educational background that includes, a Certificate in Photography from the Halifax Regional Vocational School (NSCC), a BFA in Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, a Certificate in Adult Education from Henson College (Dalhousie University), a B.Ed - Visual Arts Specialist degree from NSCAD and Mount Saint Vincent University. Gerard also possess an M.Ed in Adult Education from Mount Saint Vincent University, a Certificate in Non-Profit Sector Management from Henson College (Dalhousie University), and is a Certified PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition) Practitioner.

You can visit Gerard's Idea books and studio journals at his blog, Mix and Shift.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize you had another blog. Just stumbled upon this one in someone's blog roll. What a treasure to find you here too!


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