A visiting artist in Ryde

For five years, I had the privilege of serving as a principal at a small Danish private school (friskole) situated in the charming rural town of Ryde, just outside the city of Holstebro in western Denmark. During my tenure, I launched several artistic projects to ensure that students not only encountered art through their own teachers but also by experiencing professional artists at work.

One of the most memorable artists that I had the pleasure of working with was American artist Michael McGillis from Detroit. I met McGillis for the first time in 2014, when he was part of the traveling team of artists for the project “Kunsten I bevægelse” (The Art in Motion). I knew that his artistic process would be an excellent opportunity for the pupils to experience, so I applied for a work grant from the Danish National Arts Council, and we were able to invite McGillis to Ryde. We transformed one of the school’s rooms into an apartment, changed a classroom into a studio, and found local collaborators.

It was truly a beautiful experience to witness how our students reacted to having a professional artist in residence at the school.

What I learned from this project:

  1. Art should be an integral part of education as it helps to develop creativity, critical thinking skills, and cultural awareness.
  2. Meeting professional artists and experiencing their work can have a profound impact on students and help to develop an appreciation for art.
  3. Art projects should be collaborative and involve students in the creative process.
  4. Art projects can be used to create a sense of community and bring people together around a common cause.
  5. Art should be accessible to everyone, and institutions should make an effort to bring art to people where they are, rather than expecting them to come to a specific location.