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Staff Spotlight: Daria Sur, Teaching Artist

Mono Arts Council is excited to start featuring our fantastic staff, students, and artists on our blog with monthly spotlights. Meet the faces behind Mono Arts Council and get inspired by their dedication to art and the MAC mission.

January's staff spotlight is on Daria Sur, Teaching Artist for Mono Arts Council.

1. When did you first realize you were an artist or wanted to be an artist?

I'll never forget a moment when the curator of a local gallery announced that my collages had been selected for an art exhibition. "Your art looks amazing," he said in front of a group of professional artists and gallery workers. "I must show it to others!" I was dumbstruck. But I also vividly remember a feeling of belonging that moment. I was only fourteen, but it felt like I had found my tribe.

2. You have worked in a variety of art mediums, do you have a favorite? If so, why is it your favorite?

I love traditional three-dimensional media, like sculptures and reliefs, that have been around since the beginning of human history. The fact that I can turn basic materials, like clay, plastic or paper, into meaningful art installations makes me feel connected with nature. When I see how people look at my art, I feel connected with them, like we are all part of one community.

3. If you could learn any other arts medium, what would it be? Why?

I really want to learn coding and VR. To me, coding and computer science are a new art form. Many friends of mine channel their creativity and artistic expression through coding. I am fascinated about a mystical transformation of simple text into other forms of artistic expression, such as websites, video games and music.

4. What is your favorite part of your job as a teaching artist?

My favorite teaching moment is when I have reached a level of trust with my students so that they feel safe to share their ideas, artworks, and interests with the class. At that point, through open communication, acknowledgment, and idea sharing, a group of individuals becomes a community, where everyone is a collaborator, a teacher, and a learner at the same time. It gives me a great pleasure to observe how our conversations on visual literacy spark students' metacognition, empathy and self-advocacy.

It also makes my day when my neighbor's children ask me when we are going to have our next class.

5. What is the most important thing you would like your students to learn?

More and more children become visual communicators. I hope that our collective art practices help my students feel confident using technology and digital apps to untap their creative potentials. I want them to become strong advocates of their art, and be able to freely express their ideas in any medium.

6. Why do you think the arts are so important right now?

In a time when our safety and wellbeing has never been more important, it has become urgent for all of us to talk to each other, to care for each other, to build trust and to nurture a feeling of belonging. Visual arts inspires a chance to see the world from different perspectives. It is a vehicle that can bring joy, spark meaningful conversations and unite people. I teach visual arts to give my students a common language for expressing feelings and communicating ideas. I believe that visual arts amplify my students' voices and make them heard around the world.

Read Daria's full bio HERE


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