COMPAS Teaching Artist Roster
COMPAS is a Minnesota organization that bring professional teaching artists into organizations and classrooms throughout the state.
Work with Me
The moment I knew my work as a teaching artist was crucial to my artistic practice was in an Artability classroom in 2008. I was presenting a workshop on how to tell stories of mental illness to writers who experienced mental health difficulties, most of whom had the designation of experiencing serious and persistent mental illness.
I had included metaphor in my lesson plan, along with other craft elements. In the metaphor section, we began with an example text, specifically T.S. Eliot’s line “My life is measured out in coffee spoons…” and were discussing both what he might mean by that, and how to construct our own metaphors. We discussed the structure of a metaphor, that metaphor is a claim that something is something else. Someone stopped me with a concern. She said outright, “My social worker says I’m not supposed to do that.”
I said this was a form of verbal play that was open to anyone. Then someone else said, “You mean people without mental illness do this?”
One aspect of experiencing psychiatric disability is a profound othering by society. As a culture, we don’t have room for the breaks with reality that might be part of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, yet these are breaks that are often made safely in art or writing or performance. We might pretend we’re a character and act out their experience, we might imagine a world and narrate its history, or we might simply make a metaphor and simply claim that a life is a series of coffee spoons. Normalizing the experience of psychiatric disability is direly important, and participation in the arts both normalizes people experiencing mental illness and promotes greater social integration.
Writing Right Now
Writing Right Now is space to write about what is happening to us individually and collectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an opportunity to do some writing about the ordinariness of this moment, to capture details and worldviews that may be meaningful long after quarantine is over. This session is focused on the writing process above all else, with an emphasis on tips and tricks to make the writing process easier.
As a teaching artist I’ve worked with People Incorporated’s Artability program, Minneapolis Institute for the Arts, and with other organizations and schools to teach art, writing, and performance skills and provide social-emotional learning opportunities for all ages from elementary-school aged young people to elders.