At Western International School of Shanghai, we are lucky to have a community full of talented individuals from around the world! Every Tuesday we will be featuring a student, teacher or family from our community for Tiger Pride Tuesdays. For our first Tiger Pride Tuesday, we are featuring Isha Joshi. Isha has been with WISS for 3 years and is one of our Primary School art teachers. Isha is both a talented teacher AND artist. She presented her artwork at Shanghai’s Comic Con event from October 26-28!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to WISS?
I grew up in India – the land of beautiful, sensuous and vibrant colours and sound. Every moment of an Indian’s life is a palette of colours. Each season, in fact, each month has its own special festival associated with its unique food and clothes.
Being the second child, with a studious and responsible elder sister and a high achieving younger sister I often was the quiet observer left to my own devices. I would spend a lot of time trailing my mother and my sisters absorbing the sights and sounds of my family and its tradition and culture. I loved the experience and soon found a way to express myself. Most children love to draw but I realized that drawing was my medium of expression. I started illustrating everything I saw. I would draw anytime, anywhere and on everything! To my mother’s despair I would use markers to draw on myself, on my body, the furniture and the floor! It didn’t mater what it was, I covered my body with “illustrations” – spirals, lines, abstract and traditional designs!
My parents, although in despair over my body illustrations, were supportive and encouraged me to participate in art competitions to represent my school. My teachers too, realized my interest and recognizing it as a talent. I have even had requests from my teachers to draw for them. In all honesty, I had no interest in anything but art and I embraced any opportunity to draw. Besides my love for art I also love to travel. I want to travel the world one day and imbibe the various cultures and traditions that is out there. When I got a job offer from WISS in 2015 I saw it as an opportunity to work in a different country with an equally rich heritage and tradition as my homeland. WISS is also an IB world school and sealed the deal for me.
Which of the IB Learner Profile do you strongly identify with and why?
I believe that the Learner Profile is a way of life. As a teacher/facilitator who works with young children it is my responsibility to try and practice what I preach. I am always conscious of this and try to model it to the best of my ability. Although I would love to say that I identify with one or more aspects of the Learner Profile the truth is that I am always trying.
What do you enjoy most about teaching art?
I feel lucky to get the opportunity to interact with my young students and share and learn every day. For me the greatest joy of teaching art comes from the ability to share my experiences and learn along side my students. I understand this role comes with great responsibility as we are influencing impressionable young minds!
What aspect of your class do students seem to enjoy the most?
Creating art and finding out about new artists and their life and their influences fascinates them. They love hearing stories about artists and learning about their work. Making personal connection helps them relate to it. I often use my works and experiences as examples to inspire them.
Tell us about your background as an artist and your artwork. What does your work aim to say?
It sounds cliché, but like most artists my inspiration is Life…..but through my lens. Since I was very young, I felt compelled to illustrate sights and sounds, people and or objects giving each its own characteristic – sometimes exaggerated and sometimes muted. There’s a fine and often blurred line between my reality and my imagination! And I hope you can see that in my illustrations. My illustrations are varied often stemming from and reflecting perhaps deep feelings or funny things I’ve heard, something my students might have said or done, or my own thoughts. I often find Life’s quirkiness humorous and I often use certain incidents and characters to create comic strips. These comic strips are my playful and lighthearted way of self-expression. My art is inspired by my life experiences, by the people I meet or the sights and sounds that surround me. I love people watching and putting the essence that attracts me to their characters and/or personalities into my art. Most my illustrations are digital. I also enjoy working with water colours.
Who are your biggest influences?
There are many artists works I admire but the legend, Bill Waterson the cartoonist and the creator of the Calvin and Hobbes series has had a huge influence on me. I also love some of the works of contemporary artists such as Pascal Campion, a French-American artist, illustrator and animator. Gavin Aung Than, a cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia, who uses inspirational quotes to create comic strips is also another one of my favorites and motivates me. There are many incredible artists doing amazing things who have inspired and influenced me and my work. However, having said that, my mother has been my biggest inspiration as she always supported and encouraged me to create art.
Tell us about the importance of art for students overall growth and development?
I was educated in India where the traditional and rigorous “chalk-and-talk” system is generally favoured. I consider myself blessed to have my family support me in the pursuit of my dream to be an artist. I believe that every child is talented and requires encouragement and nurturing. I would like to be able to influence young minds to appreciate and enjoy art whether they think they can or cannot draw. Art is timeless, boundary-less and unifying.