Artists: Titi Kunkel and Anita Baziuk
It is like good teaching. There is no attempt to dominate, to dictate how this will go. Rather, there is modesty, and mutual encouragement; finally, a decision to “let’s start from what we talked about.”
“Well, if you do the art part I can be whatever you want me to be.” That sounds like a good philosophical foundation for teaching – to start with what you know, to care about the others in the room with you, to be willing to turn your hand where it is needed, to start from strengths, to complement what others have to offer.
“We cannot overlook the significance of First Nations to teaching and learning in northern BC, we want to include the colours, red, white, black and yellow to symbolize that importance, the colours of the four directions.” “Right, it’s about acknowledging other people and other cultures, that is what the act ‘to teach’ is all about. There is a value we bring in appreciating what other people and other cultures have to give to learning.”
The primary image is a book. The pages of the book are white but teaching isn’t just about a western way, the words on a page. “Over the pages we can have circles, in the 4 colours to represent that important contribution First Nations make.” The circles will float above the pages of the book and not only do they touch, they overlap, they are linking together, looking like strong lenses with which to view the pages”. “That matters, that it isn’t just about only a western way of teaching and learning, not just the words on a page. It is how we see them and learn them, how we teach them.”
“I don’t want to theorize but those white pages are the white hegemony but the act of teaching gives us power to write for ourselves on the pages, to expand what we know beyond the pages.”
Now, the work begins. It is hard to make that first move, to touch the enamels to the glass. Again, the skills of good teaching are in evidence. There is agreement to prepare first; to research and think about and talk through how to do this. One takes off to sketch the circles on the computer; the other is plucking up courage to start transferring the design from paper on to the glass.
The book emerges on one glass plate. It has many pages but lies open, blank and waiting. Now, the other parts of the design return, printed off from the computer. Technology has been put to the service of the artists. The circles and the letters of the word are linked, and engraved on the second piece of glass: “we want to keep it simple.”
And - that simply - it comes together. From our regional campuses, where faculty and administration live so close to their smaller communities, “teach” is illuminated as something you do, calling on all levels and people and spaces and disciplines and resources, grounded in the place where you stand.