This Spring term will mark the 3rd time that I’ve participated in the Peer-To-Peer program. Although this program is geared towards professional development through inter-personal observation and discussion with another fellow Marwenite, I’ve also found that I’ve gained insight not just through the pairings, but through other Peer-To-Peer pairings as well. The more the merrier seems to ring true for Peer-To-Peer, simply because there will be, well, more experiences to hear and draw from. The meetings where everyone is encouraged to casually share their interactions are equally beneficial in influencing your next approach to class, or your next Peer-to-Peer experience should you decide to return. In other words, the title “Peer-to-Peer” only covers half of what the program offers.
That being said, the actual partnerships that take place seem to vary – as Marwen hosts and respects a variety of in-class structures, teaching styles, and technical know-how. Being open seems to be the rule of thumb for such Forrest Gump’s box-of-chocolate type situations. Personally, as a Peer-to-Peer rookie, I was paired up with another teaching artist I knew, respected, and had even worked with. The familiarity was great – but as a newly anointed teaching artist at Marwen myself, I was surprised to see the differences in our classes. The energy and atmosphere contrasted sharply. What I mean to say is that her class was quiet, calm, and focused. Mine was a little more… fast. Could the key difference here be the different style of classroom product? Drawings after drawings vs. a single, developed project? My second experience drew from the first – I sought an artist who I believed was a little more similar in teaching style, still in a different medium, but more experienced. It was encouraging to observe a class structure that was anchored in giving each student a lot of options, and speaking with them on an as-needed basis. My class, theoretically, is supposed to be the same way… but again, his class seemed calmer than mine. But after speaking with him I began to think maybe it’s just not calm in my head – though my class itself actually might not be as clownish. I’ve also decided to give up on calamity for now – I’m proud of my students and their work. Going into the current Peer-to-Peer program, I was much more aggressive. I knew that I wanted to work with someone who worked in a similar medium, with the same age group. As there were more Peer-to-Peer participants than the previous two terms, I actually ended up in a group of three. The enthusiasm is high, and I am glad to feel more confident in what I’m looking for this term. Let me clarify: just like my drawing class, Peer-to-Peer has been a process. I’m gradually learning how to take advantage of such a program rather than blindly squashing the proverbial chocolates in the box. While discussing the program during the last meeting, it seemed that a lot of these chocolates had similar wisdom: – Try to go in with intent. Try to figure out how Peer-to-Peer can work for your needs. Yes, sometimes being selfish is the best way to participate. – Remember that it’s a learning experience, always stay open-minded to others. – Take the constructive criticism, and dish it out if appropriate. That’s what a lot of Peer-to-Peer is there for. Oh, give compliments too. – Observe each other more than once if you can. – Follow through and be reliable (duh). – Watch Forrest Gump, if you haven’t seen it since childhood, like me. I’d like to bring this full circle in a very eloquent and satisfying fashion, and reconnect it to how Peer-to-Peer is also valuable beyond the pairings. But I don’t mean to wrap up this little review since it is, as I mentioned earlier, a process.
About Greg Bae
Greg Bae received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has 5 years of teaching experience at Marwen; the Hyde Park Art Center; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Hub-Bub in Spartanburg, SC; and the Fred Dolan Art Academy, Bronx, NY). As an artist, Greg works in mixed media, usually taking the form of installations, collages, or paintings. His work focuses on opticality, reflexivity, illusions, and chaos while remaining material heavy. He explores modes of working dialectically - often trying to push to poles of thought together, such as ephemerality and permanence, abstraction and representation, space and image.