Photo by Grace Goldman
For the last two hours of his day, art teacher Adam Finkelston is conducting 19 mini classes within the two hours. There are students in the dark room waiting for their film to develop, there are students crafting bowls out of clay and there are students painting pop stars on canvases. In each class, there is a mix of AP, IB, photography and 2D art students, all creating their own art projects. At times, this class inevitably appears hectic, but Finkelston has it all under control.
“Every student is doing an independent study, so it’s kind of unorganized in a creative sense,” Finkelston said. “I love it because it keeps me on my toes, and students can learn what they want to be learning.”
Unlike other classes, Finkelston’s role during these two hours is to be more of an advisor and guide. He can offer insight into certain projects if students need help, but for the most part, Finkelston reminds himself to take a step back in these classes and let the students decide what they want to do with their art.
“I’ve learned to meet students where they are or where they want to be,” Finkelston said. “I’ve stopped being concerned about what I would do if I were them, and in turn have had to get to really really know students to understand their points of view.”
According to Finkelston, thinking about others first is a key skill to have. As an educator, his goal is shape students into the artists they want to be, and not the person that others think they should be. To assist students in this, Finkelston has carried over his skills acquired through his publishing of an art magazine called “The Hand.” Initially, Finkelston and his co-worker James Mira had the idea to make “The Hand” a student-based publication. However, the publication flourished over time and the magazine is publishing quarterly and is receiving art submissions from only professional artists around the world.
“[My publisher skills] translates to my teaching because I know a lot of artists, and have access to artists,” Finkelston explained. “So when I have students who are interested in something in particular, I have a lot of resources for them internationally and can get them feedback.”
According to senior art class member Kelly Romer, Finkelston’s passion for art shines through in his genuine, profound advice he gives to students. Romer sees Finkelston’s art class has a valuable experience because she is able to work with a group of passionate people like Finkelston, who have allowed her to branch out and try new art mediums, such as photography and clay.
Overall, having this network of artists along with Finkelston’s passion for art has pushed him to be a highlight of all the art students days. Yes, at times his last two hours of the day are crazy, however those two hours are when Finkelston and his students are able to inspire each other.