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News . Feature Stories . Teacher residency supplied inspiration to take back to her students and her studio


January 28, 2020

Teacher residency supplied inspiration to take back to her students and her studio

The best part of CIA's teacher residency for Caitlin Shawaker: "I felt like I found my artist spirit again."

Caitlin Shawaker

Caitlin Shawaker was among the 2019 cohort of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Summer Teacher Residency, an immersive, 10-day experience designed specifically for high school art teachers. During the school year, Shawaker teaches a variety of art and art history classes at St. Ursula Academy in Toledo.

“In AP Art History, my students and I investigate the diverse artistic traditions of cultures from prehistory to the present, creating a deeper and more holistic understanding of our global community,” she explains. “One of the most fulfilling aspects of teaching a wide array of grades and classes is that I get to witness the growth and transformation of my students over the years.

Shawaker spent her CIA Summer Teacher Residency focusing on the medium she had chosen in college—sculpture.

“It was a breath of fresh air to have a studio space, generous advice from experts, and all the tools and technology I could ever imagine,” she said. “Since I had access to a woodshop, I pushed myself to learn new machinery, which in return advanced my final concept.”

The residency, Shawaker said, helped her reclaim the perspective of student.

“It's easy to get stuck in the mindset of a teacher, but it's important to reflect on the needs of a student, from their point of view. The CIA residency helped me reassess my teaching style and feedback. I have incorporated more critique-discussions to provide students with additional feedback and advice during the art-making process. In turn, my students have been able to talk more confidently about their own artwork and address solutions faster.”

The residency also helped in her approach to her studio work, where she has been making small, sculptural relief forms.

“I have been translating and ‘re-drawing’ my sketches and illustrations with thread on cotton paper,” she said. “There is something purging and healing about piercing a thread through paper, connecting and constructing shapes through textural gestures.”

“The CIA residency built my confidence up immensely,” she added. “I felt like I found my artist spirit again. I have been applying to shows more frequently and am planning on renting a studio space finally. In addition, I have been routinely creating artwork. My artistic process feels less like a hobby now and more of a passionate way of life.”

March 1 is the deadline to apply for the 2020 Summer Teacher Residency. For more information, click here or call CIA's Office of Continuing Education + Community Outreach at 216.421.7493.

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