Photographer Patrycja Maksalon: Parent, Teaching Artist & Educator

Many of our Teaching Artists fill multiple roles with children and youth, both in their personal and professional lives. One such artist, Photographer & Storyteller Patrycja Maksalon, is a parent of three children as well as an educator and artist. 

Art Education From The Perspective Of A Parent

As a parent, Patrycja sees ArtistsInspire as a program that benefits everyone. She says, 

“My kids share stories when they come home, ‘Today we got to build a whale with twigs that’s going up on a wall’ or ‘Today I learned about how water has memory’ or ‘Today we created a visual map of our school’… The students have this amazing opportunity to do something creative and fun and beautiful that remains in the school/classroom. Visiting artists offer a gateway for students to become part of something bigger. They offer unique perspectives and learning opportunities.” 

Art Education From The Perspective Of An Educator

As an educator, Patrycja sees ArtistsInspire as an invaluable support for teachers in the classroom. She says,

“We forget sometimes that when a teacher goes into a classroom to teach a class, there is no grace or leeway to show up late or take a pause. The room is filled with 20, 30, sometimes more, students waiting for them; each with their own unique story and need for connection. [As] we navigate a global pandemic, as we struggle with world events, and as we travel the ebb and flow of life, teachers are at the forefront of engaging our children and future generations.  The conversations we’re having as adults  play out in the classrooms. Programs like ArtistsInspire, I believe, bring an opportunity for someone else to come into a classroom and hold witness to the process of teaching. The artists offer another perspective and another human in the room. When there is one teacher in front of many students, the role can feel very isolating. It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame. A program like ArtistsInspire brings someone else into the room who can offer perspective, support and recognition, even if only for a moment.” 

Patrycja is particularly enthusiastic about the potential of the artistic process for fulfilling curriculum in all subject areas. As she says, 

“Like so many disciplines, art can easily be relegated to its own unique compartment. ArtistsInspire trains the artists to think about what’s going on in the classroom, and how to infuse art into the process in any subject area. An artist can guide students on new ways to think about Integer lines. A geography lesson can transform into developing maps that feature creative landmarks. An English class might explore questions about Identity through photographs and interviews. A visiting  artist can elevate classroom conversations by bringing colour and texture to the lesson plans. ”

Art Education From The Perspective Of A Teaching Artist

As a Teaching Artist, Patrycja finds that “the students can absorb [curriculum] a little bit differently just hearing it from somebody else in a new format, in a new way, in a creative way.” For her, the exchange between teachers and artists is mutually beneficial. As she says, “I find I’ve learned from every single teacher that I [work with] … I will often have teachers reflect, ‘Oh, I really liked how you incorporated that piece. I’m going to borrow that in the future’. So not only are the artists able to witness and see the amazing work that the teachers are doing, the teachers in turn witness and learn from the artists as well.”

As a parent, Patrycja is witness to the joy programs such as ArtistsInspire bring into the lives of her own children; as an educator in the system, she values the diversity in creativity and perspective that these opportunities bring into a school/classroom; and as a Photographer/Storyteller, she is grateful for the opportunity to infuse art into the curriculum in thoughtful and inclusive ways that inspire connection. As one example of a person who embodies multiple perspectives in the education system, Patrycja supports the fundamental goal of ArtistsInspire: fostering the learning and creativity of children and youth.

pink water bottle
Connection begins with self-awareness; workshop on Identity with Artist Patrycja Maksalon
Parent, Teacher & Artist Patrycja Maksalon: On The Role Of Teaching Artists In Supporting Teachers
Patrycja Maksalon: On The Relationship Between Teaching Artists And Teachers
Patrycja Maksalon: On The Value Of Art In School From The Perspective As A Parent
hands in heart
Safely hidden with heart in my hands; workshop on Identity with Artist Patrycja Maksalon
coloured pencils
Choosing life in full colour; workshop on Identity with Artist Patrycja Maksalon