Artist of the Week – Bryce Petersen

March 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

Today’s long-awaited installment of548057_10151955751155553_1512290208_n our Artist of the Week series features HSTA alumni and faculty, Bryce Petersen. A graduate of the Artist Blacksmithing and Glassblowing Certificates, Bryce has gone on to become the Fine Arts Teacher in Nelson House, Manitoba, and he’s been a regular faculty member in the summer programs with his continually popular “Youth/Teen Build Your Own Skateboard Deck” workshops. Most recently, Bryce has introduced two new workshops for summer, “Youth/Teen Amateur Telescope Making” and an advanced skills skateboard workshop. Today, he shares his amazing career journey with us. Thank you for sharing, Bryce!

Q: What did you graduate from at the Haliburton School of the Arts and how did you come to the school initially?

I graduated from HSTA’s Artist Blacksmith and Glassblowing courses in the 2004-2005 school year. My decision to study at HSTA was greatly influenced by my high school visual arts teacher who encouraged me to sculpt in metal. After my first week in Haliburton, I never wanted to leave. As a rich creative learning environment, it felt only natural to extend my studies into the second semester and glassblowing had already been a growing curiousity of mine. To this day, those were two of the best choices I have ever made in my life.

Q: What was one of the most lasting learning experiences you had as a student here?

As a student at HSTA there were many meaningful learning experiences. One that stood out to me occurred while in the glassblowing program. It came from more than just one instructor, which I think is what made it so potent. Anyway, throughout the program we had the opportunity to study under several established glass artists and for me, a strong aspect of their tutelage came from seeing their passion for what they were doing. It then dawned on me, that the only correct career decision was the one that captured my interest at the deepest level. If you’re going to do something for a living, love it. Do what you love and love what you do. This is the most profound lesson I learned while at HSTA.198288_4585982691_9641_n

Q: You’ve also been a long-time summer faculty member, what did you teach and how has that experience enriched your career path?

I am the instructor for the “Youth/Teen Build Your Own Skateboard Deck” program, and have been since 2008. This summer I will also be launching two new one-week programs called “Youth/Teen Amateur Telescope Making” where we will build reflector telescopes and an advanced build curriculum to the Build Your Own Skateboard Deck course.

By the time I received this opportunity, I was confident that teaching was my path. That said, as a recurrent position, I have learned a great deal each year that I have taught the course. As I have grown as a teacher, this program has also developed in its ability to demonstrate cross-curricular connections between science, art, business, design and woodworking. Furthermore, the success of the program has now spread and is quickly gaining interest up here in Nelson House, Manitoba where I am currently teaching.

Q: Where are you now in your career?

How I came to be where I am is a point of great credit to HSTA. After graduating, I was hired as an educational assistant in the glassblowing studio. To this day, these were three of the most enjoyable weeks of work ever. During this time, I found myself working excessive hours, sweating buckets because we had a really hot summer, and smiling the whole time. It was this position that confirmed my love for working in education.

IMG_0784Okay, fast-forward 7 ½ years. I am applying to teaching jobs and find one titled “Fine Arts Teacher – High School”. I figure I’d be a fool to not pursue it so I apply and get a call back. Four days later I have a job offer from Nelson House, Manitoba, which is 800 kms north of Winnipeg! As the fine arts teacher here, I have built a new arts program that aims to engage the students’ strong tactile strengths and learning aptitudes. It has required that I learn a great deal about differentiated instruction and program planning from the ground, up.

I am also teaching a digital photography program that will develop students’ as observers and more importantly, their technological literacy. There is a strong creative inclination on the part of the students here and one of my primary goals is to use our time together to demonstrate the many career paths they can pursue with the knowledge they will gain through our new arts program.

Q. A successful career in arts doesn’t always mean that you have your own practice – is that a goal for later down the road?

Most definitely! I miss the regularity of a studio practice, especially blacksmithing and glassblowing. What I do not miss at the moment is the financial weight of them. When I began on my path to become a teacher, I knew then that a large impetus was to facilitate an artistic practice free from the pressure of creating work for financial survival. My first initiative is to create work for myself. And, if it engages an audience or some of it sell227335_29066125552_811_ns, great!

However, with that said, one of the great opportunities I associate with my position here is that I will be able to work personally in various ways i.e. drawing, painting, photography and most importantly, various forms of sculpture. The trick as a teacher of course, is finding/making the time.

Q. As an artist-educator, what is some advice you can pass into others who feel drawn to the path of educating in the arts?

Three things: My first piece of advice would be to explore, explore, explore! Working in new processes, develops and prepares you for the unpredictable and richly diverse student body you will come to work   with. This is especially appropriate when teaching specific groups be they cultural, behavioural or otherwise.

Second, technological literacy is essential and coming from a generation “Y” perspective, it is something that even us ‘young teachers’ stand to fall way behind with. I know how technology engages youth but feel that it is a growing part of our lived experience that one will and should always struggle to keep up with!

Third, always try to balance your personal studio practice with curriculum. While there are always general expectations in a given curriculum, I would argue that the ‘wiggle room’ is there to accommodate the many skill sets we as art-educators bring to the classroom. Balanced with general artistic endeavours, these strengths will be the crux of a unique and memorable curriculum.

Thank you for all you taught and continue to teach me HSTA! Your time and investment in my future will always be cherished.

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