Isha Joshi is the Visual Arts teacher for Grades 3-5. She comes from India and joined WISS in August 2015. She is a passionate art educator and also an artist herself. You can see more of Isha’s amazing digital art at: http://iishajoshii.blogspot.hk/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Isha-Joshi-sLiCe-oF-LiFe/407117386002884
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became experienced in your subject area?
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. We have Basant Panchami in February when students, young and old, pray to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Town and cities are awash with yellow and saffron sarees, and salwar kameez and markets selling berries (ber) of different shades of green and red. March brings the famous or infamous festival of colours often shown in Bollywood movies. Once again streets are ablaze with a wild plethora of colours.
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 Indian 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! This obsession with drawing on my body continued well into my teenage years when I would ensure that my “tattoos” were hidden under my clothes! It didn’t matter 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.
The rest, as they say, is history. After high school I enrolled in College of Art, Delhi majoring in Applied Arts, which is like commercial art. Amongst other things I studied packaging, photography, graphic design, advertising and typography. I also developed an interest in designing lifestyle accessories and jewelry – often reflected in my personal style!
What are your personal teaching philosophies?
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.
Why have you chosen to work within the IB curriculum?
I don’t think that I ever looked at teaching as a career. However, my mother was a teacher and she was a major influence in my life. I would like to believe that this was one of the reasons that when I did become a teacher I wanted to be the best I could be. My first job as a teacher was disastrous! Although it was a PYP school, and I enjoyed teaching, I found the meetings, the paperwork and all the other work to be tedious and mindless. I left after a year!
Soon I realized that I truly loved the inquiry based PYP philosophy and framework. I knew that this philosophy encourages both students and teachers to be lifelong learners and inquirers. It would give me the freedom to encourage students to find out more about art and help them develop a love for this discipline rather than look at it as a “fun” time at school. I knew then I had found my calling.
Tell us more about the importance of your subject area for students overall growth and development?
Art as a discipline, is often overlooked. The value of art education is being felt world- wide as research shows that students build creative thinking skills through art. In young students it develops fine motor skills and allows them self-expression using non-traditional media. Through Art, students develop communication skills using critical thinking and research skills just as they use their social and self-management skills. Although these skills are integral to most subject areas, I believe that Art provides the perfect platform for this to happen. In fact, in the PYP, these skills are identified as one of the important five elements that make students lifelong learners and thinkers.
Tell us what you have enjoyed most working at WISS?
WISS gives me the opportunity to work with students from all over the world providing me with a myriad of perspectives. I like working with its dynamic faculty and staff. WISS students are open to new ideas and views. I feel that the staff and students are warm and welcoming and I feel like I am a part of a caring community.
What aspect of your class do students seem to enjoy the most?
I think students enjoy the creative freedom in Art. At the beginning students did not understand the need to study the theory of art. However, they now look forward to what comes after the theory – the excitement of taking that theory and creating something unique and taking pride in its ownership. I love giving them the opportunity to explore a variety of media and art from different cultures. I think they look forward to seeing their art-work displayed generating interest and conversation.
Where do you draw inspiration from your art?
It sound 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.
Any exciting projects for the WISS community to look forward to?
We have plans for a student exhibition in the near future. Stay tuned!