NYC Art Educator Interview #2: David Bowles
The field of Art Education is large and encompasses everything from art teachings in traditional schools, to teaching artists, to museum educators, to administrators in art education non-profits. There are different paths that one can take to get to these positions. This informal interview is designed to help share the knowledge, experience and expertise of those currently working in arts education positions around NYC with current graduate students in Art Education programs in NYC!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do in the field of Art Education.
In my role as Assistant Museum Educator for School Programs, I oversee the strategic planning, staff and volunteer training, program implementation, and evaluation of all aspects of guided K-12 school tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In collaboration with colleagues, I develop resources for educators, in particular for educators who are bringing students to the Museum on guided or self-guided visits. I also teach across a range of audience areas, including K-12 educator programs and adult gallery talks. Before this, I worked at the Rubin Museum of Art as Manager of School Programs.
Q: Where are you originally from and how did you end up in New York City?
I’m a proud NYC native, actually. We exist, and tend to be a hardy bunch. I escaped to Canada for my undergraduate work, but the gravitational pull of the Big Apple was strong; especially because I was keen to work in the arts.
Q: Where did you attend school (undergraduate and graduate)? What were your majors?
I earned my B.A. in Art History with Honours from McGill University, and my M.S.Ed in Museum Education from Bank Street College.
Q: And how did your major/school affect your career in art education?
Very strongly. I was determined to do something with my B.A., in Art History, but I was open to almost anything. After undergraduate work was complete, I worked for three years at a major art auction house and two years in a small private gallery. After five years, I realized that although I enjoyed the art market, my true interest lay in discussing art with others – and not necessarily sealing a deal afterwards. That epiphany led me to K-12 art education.
Q: Are you doing what you thought you would be doing when you were in college?
I had no idea what I would be doing in college, though I have always been interested in Museum work. I spent a few undergraduate summer vacations working in the gift shops at the Met, so it’s funny to find myself back again after all that time. I wish I’d known that museum education as a field existed when I was an undergrad. I stumbled across museum education when volunteering for a year as a teaching artist assistant at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, (this was while I was working at that gallery). Discovering mentors and peers doing inspiring work with NYC youth was a major turning point for me.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow the same career path?
Museum Education is all about listening well. Be open to the unexpected; the field rewards the adaptable. Volunteer. Be clear about your motivation for the work, because you will work harder than ever before and it won’t be for the salary. Support your friends and peers; when the tide rises it lifts all the boats.
Q: What do you do when you’re not educating? (e.g. Band/Art/Hobby/Blog, include links to your work if applicable, or attach an image)
I’m a hiker, and enjoy exploring trails all over the Tri-State area. I’m also a gamer, and love sinking into a good RPG. I read a lot of fiction, and when I’m not spending time with friends and family, I’m often at a regional Comic Con, helping my husband run his business, modHero (check out modHero.com), a design experiment overcome with fanboy hormones and re-conned into “Art.” I try to stay reflective as both an educator and a person; you can see a recent blog post I wrote on using Facebook as a Reflection Tool here: http://artmuseumteaching.com/2015/01/05/status-update-facebook-as-a-reflection-tool/
Q: Any last words of wisdom to share with current art education graduate students in NYC?
Get things done, but hold on to your sense of wonder.