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“During the course I discovered that above all, I am a visual artist”

  • Fine Art
  • Design
  • Education in Art

Everything you have learned throughout your studies comes together in the final year, and now it’s time for finals. Such is the case too for Maria (32) from Groningen, who has been taking the part-time Fine Art and Design in Education course at ArtEZ Zwolle: “The psyche of the human being and all of the ups and downs of life are a central theme in my work, as much in my fine art work as in my work as an arts educator.” 

“During the course I discovered that above all, I am a visual artist”

“I already had an educational programme successfully completely and wanted to keep discovering myself, ideally in a creative field. Since I already had a full-time job, I specifically looked for a part-time course. One of my friends came up with the idea to go to art school, which I had never thought about at all. I paint well, but but I don’t think of myself as a visual artist. But the combination of artistic training and arts education appealed to me, because I already had some experience with teaching and had really liked it.” 

Everything coming together

“The entire fourth year is about developing your finals work, and now I’m seeing everything that I worked for and learned in my years of study come together. During my studies I had the chance to try out all sorts of techniques. Now I know that I prefer to work with relief painting and performance art and video. I also learned which working methods work best for me and the meaning of my work. I learned a lot from other artists through my philosophy and art history classes, especially about how art gives you an outlet to express your feeling and emotions. Because of that, I have become even better able to express my own feelings in my work and put them into words as well. 

The human psyche as a focus subject

The human psyche and all of the ups-and-downs of life are a central theme in my work, not just in visual art but also as an art educator. Both contribute to the emotional development of a person. My finals work consisted of two installations with large spatial relief paintings. The performance videos were projected onto the artworks. That created movement between the two forms of media. It created a sort of dialogue, as it were. The relief works center around stories about the harder side of life. Cubist figures sit, trapped in a dark frame. The video projection moves around, and is light and free. Both aspects show a part of myself, but also of everyone. Originally I had made them as two separate creations, but now I know that they belong together.” 

Breaking through fear of failure

During your finals you make a visual end product, such as Maria’s relief work, and an educational end product as well. On one hand, you are a visual artist and on the other hand you’re also a teacher. Maria: “For the educational component of my finals work I had to search for awhile for what the subject would be. I knew that no matter what, it had to do with the human psyche. In the end I chose to do a design study on the fear of failure for young people in a MBO-education (secondary vocational education). Art can contribute to emotional development in many ways, and therefore can also help someone understand and overcome their fear of failure. 

Podcast to overcome fear of failure

“I found my inspiration to develop a way to help young people over their fear of failure through a fear of failure training programme already underway at a MBO-school. I made a podcast that had exercises where the listener is invited to put their thoughts onto paper with colors, and made a drawing using what they say. Fear of failure is an unfortunate fear that blocks you. It doesn’t help you reach your goals. Through visualising your fear, you can reconsider your fear and turn your thoughts surrounding it around. And since you have the podcast on your phone, you can do the exercises in it at any time of day. Using my voice, I guide the listener and help them overcome moments where they experience fear of failure. I have had to learn to overcome my own fear of failure, so now I would love to help others overcome theirs.” 

100% focus on the arts

“During the education I discovered that I absolutely am a visual artist more than I am a teacher. That was genuinely surprising, and I almost thought about switching to a Fine Art programme. But I don’t want to completely give up teaching, and I was so close to receiving my teaching certification! After this I am going to focus fully on fine art and possibly take a Master’s course in Fine Art. Of course I want to keep on creating artwork and exhibit it as much as possible. I also do see myself teaching later on. That doesn't necessarily mean classroom teaching exclusively, it could also be working in a museum or giving workshops as well!” 

Check out Maria's work on artez.nl/finals (Dutch page)

More information about the part-time Fine Art and Design in Education course

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