Joyce Camilleri on art and education

Joyce Camilleri works at the intersection of art and education. She is both a practising artist and an experienced educator in art with a prevalent interest in figurative drawing. ARTZ ID asked Joyce to share her insight from her unique standpoint. 

You are a practising artist as well as an art educator. Can you tell us about your background in both and how these two occupations inform each other, if so?

I do art, I teach art and I constantly learn through my art and my teaching. I am an artist teacher. I graduated as an art teacher after completing a bachelor’s degree that focused primarily on the pedagogical aspect of art, thus not quenching my thirst for intensive artistic research. This missing piece of the puzzle soon stimulated me to re-engage with my visual arts practice and further my studies both locally and abroad, whilst at the same time gaining experience as an art educator at different levels.

These two intersected professional identities constantly nourish one another through a concurrent journey of becoming, as artist, educator and timeless learner. In this sense, I deem my artist teacher career as a recurring opportunity for valuable instances of artistic accomplishment, critical enquiry, introspection and self-evaluation that intermittently question knowledge and bring forth self-directed research in relation to myself, my art and the ever-changing world.

Snapshot from 2019 workshop that culminated in a final exhibition of works on paper. The participants were invited to distance themselves from their usual working methods in order to develop further.
According to you, what role does art have to play in today’s education system? What are the benefits of engaging young learners artistically and creatively?

Art, like education, is about everything and nothing at all. It is about questioning the known for the sake of the unknown; about searching for the sake of researching; about constructing for the sake of deconstructing. Art values its roots and honours tradition, yet it also incites curiosity, challenges social constructs and venerates change.

Art is continuous educational reform in action, for there is no education without change and art is in itself an agent of change. Just as education is a never-ending exercise in self-making, art is a recurring opportunity for meaning-making.

This means that if ‘taught’ in the right manner, art can serve as an ideal instrument to develop healthy learning patterns and creative thinking processes. These can promote humanities and their lifelong value in the transient contemporary contexts we inhabit.

Team of educators at 2019 2-week workshop in Valencia during which 21 12-year old students participated in cross-curricular and applied learning experiences.
What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in the future?

My past, current and future artistic practices will always somehow reverberate my deeply rooted visual interest in human and organic forms. However, having developed a refined ability to allow process to take over practice, I am foreseeing gradual shifts that welcome ambiguous visual metaphors and distance themselves from the figurative.

Process-based drawing practices, printed textures and an inherent fascination for paper are my timeless muses. I trust they will guide my process in the right directions. In this sense, I look forward to developing such artistic research both in my home studio and in artist residencies locally and abroad. The latter experiences will serve as an ideal platform to focus on the artistic process, build a sound discourse around it and establish solid networks with other professionals within the field. 

'Bred in Life Drawing' (BILD) is an ongoing project since 2019 started by Joyce and fellow artist Alison Agius. Weekly life drawing sessions brought together a group of artists and creatives who are inspired by the human figure.
And finally, what are your greatest ambitions, both as an artist as well as an art educator?

From an artist’s perspective I look forward to building a solid reputation as a contemporary practising artist. I want to be recognised as someone who can perform in a variety of media while retaining a distinctive visual language that is faithful to my artistic journey. I am always on the lookout to participate in international exhibitions and art shows that embrace common visual concepts and to work with professionals who share similar artistic values.

This journey will always postulate drawing as the driving force behind all visual art forms and its timeless value in art. Such beliefs will always be reflected in my art teaching, providing my students with solid foundations for their creative accomplishments, regardless of the paths they decide to pursue. This will be even more possible now that I form part of the full-time art teaching staff at the Malta School of Art that is currently under meticulous restoration and that will surely offer an ideal artistic experience and a solid platform to grow as an artist teacher within an ever-growing artistic community.

Connect with Joyce Camilleri and follow her work on ARTZ ID. 

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