GTS MTL by Heather Steinhagen

Figure 1: GTS MTL

Untitled by Heather Steinhagen

Figure 2: Untitled

Conversations by Heather Steinhagen

Figure 3: Conversations

 Heather Steinhagen

3rd year, Art Education Major

GTS MTL, Untitled and Conversations

GTS MTL, Untitled and Conversations are part of a series of visual representations depicting my research and reflecting my experience teaching art for the International Student Office at Concordia University. Part of a journal I kept while taking a course in community art education, the three works aimed to examine my role as a teacher. Focusing primarily on introducing technique and on Canadian art, the class became a place to meet and connect; belonging played a role in developing a creative learning space.


Painting with acrylic on cardboard, I made GTS MTL (Greetings Montreal) as the first journal entry at the first workshop. Reflecting a sense of nervousness through controlled rendering, I painted this to find a bridge between myself as teacher and the students attending the workshop: we were all students, living in Montreal and seeking to create art.


I was thrilled at how easy it was to build a community of artists. Or maybe I mean to say that making work somehow pulled us together and made it seem easy. Working alongside each other on various projects, and sharing conversation about the how, what and why of making images, seemed to build a shared knowledge and comfort between students, my teaching partner and myself. There was a wide range of abilities and reasons for students to attend. I noticed an overall ease that crept into being together, which developed over time and in practice.


For international students, away from home for the purposes of study, a sense of belonging can sometimes be elusive. I created Conversations in response to the quality of dialogue developing during the art making process. I felt this dialogue mirrored the casual conversations around the dining table at home. The art table had become the new dinner table. Not only did workshop participants demonstrate a natural inclination towards creativity, art proved to be the bridge to bring people together. In ensemble acts of doing and showing and speaking, the participants displayed a sense of connectivity and belonging—starting from the powerful need to express and create.