Art Works Blog

NEA Arts: Getting to Know Oneself

The most challenging part of editing is knowing what to cut and what to keep. Often the decisions are obvious, while other times a favorite snippet is felled on account of length or narrative flow. As difficult as it is to let a good one get away, it helps to know that there are other outlets where these excerpts can live on. Like this blog! The quote below is an unused portion of an interview with photographer Muriel Hasbun, who is featured in the latest issue of NEA Arts. As the chair of photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC, Hasbun uses her camera to teach and inspire her students as they find their own artistic vision. As she explains, this process feeds her own work in return.

"When you’re teaching a beginning student how to figure out how to see or how to pay attention, it’s always really exhilarating to watch that process happen in front of you. The greatest thing is to watch them become their own independent voice—when they do their thesis they’re so sure of themselves. They’re still exploring, but they’ve learned all these different strategies on how to be an artist. That feels great, especially when they go out and they do fabulous things.

[My students] are incredibly talented people. They all have their story that they want to tell, but they’re trying to figure out what that story is. I see my job as a facilitator of that process; it’s this whole idea of give and take in the classroom. Yes, I might know a little bit more about certain things, but at the same time they have their own perspective and that really keeps me alert of what’s going on in the world. Teaching is also a way of exploring artists, readings, aspects of art and culture and history that you’re interested in; it becomes a way of nourishing one’s work."



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