Adam Finkelston is the Photo teacher at SME. He is the sponsor of Creative Colab and Photo Club as well as teaching Photo 1 and 2. In his free time Finkelston uses the techniques that he teaches his students in his everyday life.
Q:What made you want to become an art teacher?
A:I always knew I wanted to teach art, not specifically at East but definitely at a highschool. My mom was a teacher and I’ve always loved art, so it dawned on me in about 5th grade with a teacher I really liked that I wanted to work in the arts. I actually graduated from South but I knew East had a great art department. I knew I wanted to teach in Shawnee Mission but not any specific school. But I am glad I ended up here at East, this is a really great community to work in with a lot of high quality people and a ton of support from the community for the arts. East is a really great place to work, I love teaching here.
Q:Where do you find your inspiration?
A: Lots of different places really; from other artists, to just science, I’m very interested in science, and I guess just thinking about the world, all over the place really.
Q:What’s your magazine called and how long have you had it?
A: I started publishing a magazine about a year and a half ago, so far we’ve had 7 issues, our latest one was actually this month (January), and it’s getting to where it’s getting a lot more press. The next few months we have a couple exhibitions that we’ve curated throught the magazine, so the magazine is actually expanding to doing actual exhibitions in galleries, so we did one at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. We’re also doing a really big show in Knoxville in March that we’re really excited about. It’s cool to see something that was just a magazine gain some traction, and we’re getting submissions from all around the world. We’re starting to get really good recognition actually and people know who we are, and it’s pretty cool.
Q:What are the biggest struggles with teaching a high school photo class?
A:Probably just the fact that some students haven’t even ever really seen a film camera. They have no backround with film at all, so even when I was in highschool (I’m 37) you know film cameras were still the norm, and that wasn’t THAT long ago really, I mean I graduated in ‘96, and everyone had film cameras. Digital cameras existed but no one really had them yet. So just over the years digital cameras have replaced film in terms of what people use everyday. So that’s probably the biggest challege, you run into students who haven’t even ever seen a roll of film. You’re literally starting from ground zero.
Q:What’s one thing you’d like to say to the entire East community that you’d like everyone to know about Photo at East?
A: I would say that photography is more than just pushing a button, and you can do things with your hands just like in other mediums of art. It can be a hands on, physical kind of way to make art. It’s more than just a document. Photography can be used just as an artistic medium. There’s a lot more to it than most people see at first glance or what you’re used to, you know just taking pictures with your cellphone. It really is a complex medium that more people should look into and explore.