In fact, this work has roots back to 2000, when I first started working as a teacher. At the time I had put aside my “artistic” work in favor of “political” work. It was difficult for me to see a potential relationship between the two. So, I spent a year in Guatemala and Chiapas working in an orphanage and doing human rights work. When I returned to New York I spent another year continuing political work within the frame of the pacifist organization The War Resisters League, and with a series of affiliations in the popular anti-globalization protests of the pre-Bush, pre-9/11 days. All of this naturally led to my seeking a teaching position in a high school in the Bronx.
For five years in the Bronx I worked as an art and computer teacher. As with my other political work, I always applied the creative sensibility of the artist, out of the fact that that is who I am, because that is the language that I speak, the education that I had, and because it was often necessary in order to survive a difficult and often frustrating situation of a public school in New York. Although I approached this job creatively, and often did some very creative things (such as co-founded a Spanglish theater company for Bronx youth) I never presented it as my artistic work. Rather, I often found myself frustrated that I was exerting so much energies (creative and physical) towards the job and that I was unable to find the time to be in “the studio”.
I finally left the school in 2005 and in 2006 started graduate school at RISD. When presenting work in grad school I often found how naturally the work of a teacher fit into the narrative of the “artistic” work that I was now doing as a graduate student. I was starting to re-evaluate and re-appreciate exactly what it was that I did for those five years on artistic terms.
As the intentionality was lacking so was the contextualization.