Learn, Teach, Create: Repeat
Artist, instructor, and Rutgers alumna Patricia Brace practices what she teaches: expanding communal awareness and access to art, through the combined acts of viewing, making, and learning about art.
“As an artist I am committed to building community, contributing to society, and collaborating with other artists and professionals. As a teacher it is important for me to role model these beliefs to my students,” Brace says.
During the spring semester, Brace is the instructor for Passport to Art at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers New Brunswick. The program, which has been offered for more than 15 years, provides opportunities for families to be creative together. Each workshop begins with an exhibition tour, followed by a project related to an aspect of the artwork on view.
“Passport to Art is a quintessential example of the Zimmerli’s mission to provide innovative ways to involve the public with its acclaimed collection of works. The museum invites the community to combine viewing and learning with the act of making, which results in a hybridized and individual museum experience,” Brace observes.
The workshops are informal and open to families with children between the ages of six and 13. Although their skill levels vary, the young participants are guided by Brace in thinking critically about art and challenging themselves creatively. This semester’s topics include:
the construction and conceptual ideas behind toys like those created by Russian nonconformist artist Leonid Sokov,
the linocut technique in the style of graphic novel pioneer and renowned children’s book illustrator Lynd Ward, and
traditional hand-quilting techniques and designs inspired by the museum's American art collection.
Brace is no stranger around campus. She attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts from 2010 to 2012, when she received her MFA. Since 2011, she has been teaching foundation and advanced level drawing classes for undergraduate students at Mason Gross, as well as art classes and workshops for the public at the school’s extension division. In addition, she has collaborated with the Dance Department and other artists on faculty for a variety of projects.
Since graduating with a BFA from Maine College of Art in her native state, Brace has wanted to live and build her career in the New York metropolitan area and recognized many opportunities to do so at Rutgers. She notes that “the Zimmerli and Mason Gross are critical culture creators in the greater New York area.”
Teaching has become an integral part of Brace’s artistic practice, as it works on the communal, rather than individual, level. “I feel an accountability that I did not have before teaching. Although I see my studio practice as a separate ballast to teaching, the concepts that I am teaching often seep into my studio practice, on both conscious and subconscious levels,” she states.
One of her recent works, "If You Know One, You Know the Other: A conversation with my brother John," demonstrates the influence. This video piece resulted in a montage based on collaborations with other artists, both ideas that had been included in her lesson plans.
Brace concludes, “Here it seems less important to question if I would have made the work the same if I were not teaching than to identify that what we choose to surround ourselves with most becomes an important part of who we are. So, in my case, that’s artist and teacher.”
For more information about classes and workshops, for children and adults, at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, contact the Education Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu/programs-events/workshops-classes.
To view Patricia Brace’s work, visit http://patricia-brace.tumblr.com/. -- Theresa C. Watson
Photo Caption: Patricia Brace, “Float” performance documentation with A. P. Vague at Wherehouse Space in Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: A. P. Vague