Why did you become a Teaching Artist?
This is a tough question to answer, because the truth is, teaching was never on my radar. I didn’t even know that Teaching Artistry was a profession that existed. It wasn’t until Arts for Learning reached out to me that I found out about it. I was hesitant, but I’m glad they found a way to convince me. Four years later, I’m still teaching and it’s pretty much a part of who I am. I guess that I decided to stay a Teaching Artist because it’s informed my artistry in a way that I couldn’t have imagined.
How has being a Teaching Artist informed your artistry?
I’ve seen how I’ve grown as an illustrator, while also seeing how it’s impacted my students and my community. The very nature of the artist is to be isolated, and I think we need to go against that nature by being in community with others using art as the catalyst. Whether it’s with fellow artists, students, or even the people within our neighborhoods–art and creativity can bridge that gap within our communities.
What kinds of art making do you do with people, in both classroom and community settings?
The kind of art I make that involves people are ones that allow them think outwardly, either towards their local communities, or even the world. Recently, I had the privilege of spearheading the Indianapolis leg of The Monster Project, where 100 artists from all over the world re-imagine monster drawings made by kids. For the first time ever, kids from Indianapolis were represented in this fun, yet very important art initiative. It allows kids to know that their imagination can go places–figuratively and literally! We were even able to arrange a day where twelve of our Indianapolis artists were able to meet the kids whose work was represented. It was such a treat to see artists and young people connect through art and creativity.
Also, earlier this summer, I partnered with Stephanie Robertson, Fine Arts chair of Ivy Tech Community College, where we helped high school students create a silk banner for Exodus Refugee and Immigration. This was something I wanted to do with students because art is supposed to have a purpose– to serve others. This also forced the students to have a more global perspective, rather than limiting themselves within the four corners of the classroom.
What do you enjoy most about your art?
The satisfaction of finishing work is always great, but what I enjoy more is the process itself. I’ve always subscribed to the belief that process is more impactful than the product. Through the creative process, I get to learn about myself; what I’m capable of, how I can stretch those abilities, and what my limits are.
Can you say more about what and why you enjoy about the process of making art? How does that play out?
Yes, it can be fulfilling and empowering, but it can also be challenging and frustrating. We always talk about how fun art can be, but we also need to talk about how discouraging it can be sometimes. It’s those times of frustration that I find the most enlightening, because it builds character and endurance. Those moments of self-doubt in the art making process are very real and can consume you if you let it. What matters is how we can find ways to overcome it–which is where the real learning begins. It can be incredibly draining, but they also allow room for growth. But those learning experiences are ones that I try to pass on to my students–that they need to welcome and embrace challenges rather than running away from it and giving up.
What is your favorite thing about being a Teaching Artist?
My favorite thing about being a Teaching Artist is that I get to share my creative process with young people, and see them tap into their potential because of it. I truly believe that everyone is capable of making art. My philosophy behind that is very simple: at one point in my life, I did not know the first thing about making art–and now I do it for a living. In that sense, everyone is capable; it’s just a matter of acknowledging it, embracing it, and committing to it–and that applies to everything in life, if you think about it.
That perspective also applies to the way I run things in the classroom. There are always a couple of students in the classroom who refuse to make art because they claim that they “can’t,” which is why I’ve decided to establish my only expectation: No one is allowed to say that they “can’t.” This forces students to know that they can, because truthfully, they can. I’ve seen some students go outside of their comfort zones and be challenged, and more importantly, to learn that they are fully capable despite those challenges. It’s really fun to see them grow from being scared of trying, to embracing their ability to create art.
Jingo M. de la Rosa is a commercial illustrator, art educator, and community artist. Originally from the Philippines, Jingo now calls Indianapolis his home, where he works out of his studio at the Circle City Industrial Complex. He has worked with world-renowned organizations such as Sakura of America, ‘47 Brand Apparel, and the NCAA, among others. When he’s not working with clients, he’s out and about teaching young people how to create art for the community. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter.