“For some…students, making art can enrich their lives forever – but for others, making art will open up a means of creative expression, a consolation, a source of strength in life,” wrote Connie Thibaut, one of ACA’s veteran art teachers, while preparing her art teacher certification many moons ago. “In this way, studying art – like the study of literature and philosophy – can empower and save lives.”
And Thibaut has done just that – teaching countless arts classes over the course of her many years here at ACA, each prioritizing individual expression and creative modes of self-reflection.
Thibaut, who has been with the Arlington Center for the Arts as far back as 2001, has had a lifelong interest in the arts. “As a child, I identified with the role of artist at a very early age,” she says. “It was a way of accessing non-ordinary reality…Those were very happy, even ecstatic hours – drawing, painting, dreaming, illustrating and writing little books.”
Now she’s happy to share her love of creating with her students. “I would like to help students learn to transform personal reflections and observations into individual styles of expression,” Thibaut says.
Her student-oriented teaching style has inspired many – including Sharon Gadonniex, who went on to help Thibaut design this semester’s workshop, “Renaissance Art & Shamanism.”
The two-day workshop, which will be co-taught by Whispering Deer, an experienced shamanic practitioner, will allow students to use techniques of shamanic journeying to access their inspiration and experiment with drawings or paintings to chronicle their experiences. It will also capitalize on Thibaut’s creative approach to arts instruction. She has taught numerous renaissance painting classes at ACA in the past, but the marriage of renaissance painting techniques and the principles of shamanism will add a new dimension, and creative edge, to this dynamic arts course.
Shamanic journeying is an ancient practice that involves reaching altered states of consciousness – allowing one to get past the linear mind, which places limits on what one can do. Thibaut is intent on allowing students to push past their creative boundaries – to “think outside of the commercial, corporate, and impersonal takeover of our culture.”
And Thibaut is excited to once again delve into the styles and swatches of Renaissance Painting. “What fascinates me about the Renaissance technique is the mystery that it creates,” she says. “The effect of mystery. The repetition of glaze upon glaze over some areas of scumbling – creates a great illusion of depth.”
“I appreciate the way we, the teachers, are respected and trusted to teach according to our own teaching philosophy [at ACA],” she notes. “I’ve also enjoyed the camaraderie with other artists, teachers, and art lovers. There was an eccentric 19th century Oxford don, named Walter Pater, who wrote a book, which became famous, called The Renaissance. It’s a very short opus and simple in its message in a way. He was always writing about ‘that liberty of the heart and mind,’ and I feel the presence of that liberty working here at the ACA.”
To learn more about Thibaut’s “Renaissance Art & Shamanism” workshop this fall, or about any of our other arts classes or workshops, visit www.acarts.org.