Today we chat with Christina Korn, Teaching Artist for ArtsMatter at The LA Promise Fund.
I’m a teaching artist, which means I divide my time between my studio practice, making art with kids and developing arts curriculum. For over ten years I’ve worked in museums, classrooms and private homes teaching art, integrating the arts into academic content and promoting social emotional skills.
Why do you do this work? What do you love about it? Working alone in the studio is my happy place but I am also driven to be a contributing member of my community. I love working with teachers, especially the creative types who are drawn to sign up for programs like Media ArtsMatter! As a student I often struggled in school and didn’t feel smart until I found my way into a subject through the arts. I’ve come to understand that I’m a learner who thinks in pictures and needs to work out ideas through drawing and making. The most special part of this work is empowering other students who think like me. This can be transformative for the students and their teachers because through art we show our intelligence and creativity without relying on the limitations of language.
What's one of your favorite memories during your work for the LA Promise Fund? I have so many fond memories from my first year at LAPF, I was truly blessed with the most awesome group of co-teachers at John Muir M.S.! I’ll never forget the way teachers and students overcame the unprecedented and unexpected circumstances we found ourselves in last spring. Ms. Slason and her 6th grade English students bravely dove into distance learning with a media arts integrated project inspired by the new film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run. We had fun together, even though we were apart, inventing original villain characters for the SpongeBob universe. Students drew character designs, wrote origin stories and even developed and performed character voices! The last week of school, when so many events were cancelled, our students were excitedly preparing to pitch their characters over Zoom to the generous artists from Paramount Animation. It was beyond inspiring to see students practicing professional skills and connecting with the creative industry right here in their city. Distance learning is very hard but this showcase inspired me to consider new possibilities.
A dedicated group of students from this class continued working with ArtsMatter over the break in our Summer Animation Camp. We met twice a week on Zoom and collaborated on an original animated short! They wrote the story, designed model sheets for their characters, created background artwork, storyboarded and even began animating clips. Watching my campers present their work to professional animators and receive seriously thoughtful feedback and encouragement was the highlight of my summer.
When you were a teenager, what did you want to do in life? I wanted to be an artist and move away to a new city with my boyfriend. I never ever thought I’d step foot in a middle school again!
If you could give your teenage self some advice, what would it be? You will think that paying for haircuts isn’t very punk and you’re too cool to care what your hair looks like. But you’re very wrong, you do care, and by then it will be too late.
What are three fun facts about you?
I grew up in New Jersey and married my high school sweetheart.
I won an art scholarship from the Charles Addams estate because The Addams Family creator was an alumni of my high school.
I worked as a professional cupcake decorator for my first 18 months in LA.
What artist(s) inspires you and why? At this moment in my life, as a teacher, mom and artist I’m especially interested in artists who’ve cultivated a lifelong studio practice. I connect with Louise Bourgeois’ investment in her personal mythology which morphed and evolved over her 90 years of artmaking. Bourgeois’ artwork takes childhood seriously in a way that embraces the full humanity of kids and family life.
I’m obsessed with Kerry James Marshall - I love narrative painting and Marshall’s gorgeous, joyous depictions of Black American life bring overdue representation to museum galleries. His craftsmanship and skill as a painter is unparalleled, seeing his work in person fills me equally with envy and inspiration!
As a teaching artist I look up to Joseph Bueys and L.A.’s own Teaching Artist hero Noah Purifoy.
What is the one thing you are sure to do when we are on the other side of this Pandemic? Travel! Go to the cinema! I can’t wait to enjoy artwork in person again.