Maine Art Education Association Spring Conference

What is the Maine Art Education Association?

     This year I decided to take some of our tax money and invest in myself and my business.  One of the things I did with that, was to get involved and become members of a few professional organizations that related to me and my art business.  The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) was one that I chose.  While geared for arts educators in a scholastic settings, teaching artists are welcomed with open arms.  I think the co-mingling of arts education teachers and teaching artists is FANTASTIC as there is much we can learn from one another. This particular organization works to support arts educators and to advance arts education in the state of Maine.

Spring Conference

     Funny enough, I submitted my proposal to be a presenter at the MAEA’s spring conference months before I actually signed up to become a member myself.  I think it was submitting the proposal that planted that seed however.  I submitted my “intro to arts accessibility” seminar and crossed my fingers it would be accepted.  This was the first conference I applied to on my own as a teaching artist that wasn’t involved with MALI. So when I learned my proposal was accepted I was ecstatic!  The best part – it was local!  It was held at the Belfast High School.

I attended the conference and presented while experiencing some symptom exacerbations for my myastheia gravis… (starting to notice a trend… I tend to flare anytime I have to do something during the day… This is when operating best on a “night-shift” type schedule comes to bite me in the ass… Participating in events like this throws me out of wack…anyway…)Half droopy eye and all – I still pushed through. The week of the conference (6 April 2019) was pretty chaotic with LOTS going on, and I pushed myself more than I had in a long time in an effort to test boundaries and see just what I can do. And I am fairly confident I found that new threshold without crossing it. 

In my sessions (I did 2 at this conference) on arts accessibility, it was made clear that while awareness on different barriers to arts access is important, there is an even greater need for workshops surrounding actual accommodations and adaptive tools in a classroom. This acknowledgment is leading me to revamp some of my proposals going forward.  I still plan on keeping my introduction to arts accessibility topic. I think it’s important to raise awareness to various access barriers – hint: there’s more than just a physical access barrier due to a disability. But I think it’s equally important to meet the current needs.  And those needs are helping teachers hash out quick and easy ways to adapt their classroom on the fly.

Art educators mingling about as we wait to get started
I make the droopy eye look GOOD! haha
The awards to be given out at the end of the conference.

Conclusion

     I’m glad that I took a chance and submitted the proposal AND that I joined this organization. One of my goals for 2019 is to grow my network.  The last few years I’ve not really put myself out there.  Even with my myasthenia gravis being unstable currently…continuing to build a professional support network and develop those relationships is never a bad thing.  I am finding that I truly enjoy being around other professionals in the arts education arena.  I have much to learn and these amazing folks have much to teach. I can’t wait to see where 2019 takes me.

     Shawna is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. She is a teaching artist and a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. To support her endeavors, consider subscribing to her members-only group! There are a variety of subscription levels starting at just $5/mo. Interested in supporting her arts in health work directly – check out the “art heals” level of support for $15/mo.

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