New ceramics teacher comes to Bear Creek

Jessica Rodrigues, Photography Editor

From sculptures ranging from miniature pig pinch pots to coil vases, new ceramics teacher, Alejandra Calderón plans to integrate cultural and social issues into her students’ artwork.

Calderón moved from Mexico to Stockton when she was 2 years old. She would visit Mexico frequently for 3-4 months before school. Calderón later moved to Elk Grove before her freshman year and commuted back to Stockton to attend the school that her mother worked at, Lincoln High School. As a teenager, Calderón said she found it difficult to attend a high school of predominantly white students.

Feeling as if she did not belong, Calderón confessed that she went through a period of self-hatred; however, she was able to find her comfort zone when she got to California State University, Sacramento, and delved into activists groups and other extracurricular campus groups in hopes of achieving one goal: to make a difference.

“I wanted to make a difference through art and that’s how [my] art has been impacted through the way that I view society and life as well,” Calderón said.

Taking Advanced Placement courses in high school such as AP Government, Calderón was drawn into government and international studies and planned to pursue a career in that field.  However, once she experienced the creativity required of art, Calderón said that she was incomplete without art-making because it is something that has always fueled her happiness.

After switching her major to child development, Calderón found that she really enjoyed working with kids through her prior experience during after-school programs when she was 15. Calderón continued to develop her art skills as she worked toward her teaching credential.

Besides the creativity, Calderón explains other reasons for her interest in art.

“Art has the capability of making you feel and connect with others, and communicating messages with others and that’s why I love art so much,” Calderón said. “I was able to intertwine activism and ethnic studies into art and really communicate messages of what oppressed societies do to people, of what discrimination is, of what acceptance is, and of what respect is in today’s society.”

Calderón hopes that her students will be able to communicate messages through their artwork as well as they exhibit how they perceive cultural and social issues that exist today.

“I feel that kids at this age are curious and need to know what’s going on in the community and in their surrounding environment,” Calderón said.  “Also, I think it’s important to know and discuss solutions to issues that people are afraid to talk about because you’re not just creating art for art’s sake, you’re also creating art to hopefully impact, you, yourself in some way and get you to think about how to resolve certain issues in our community.”

Many of her students have expressed their support for incorporating cultural and social issues into their artwork.

“It’s nice to see what the younger generation feels about issues in today’s society,” senior Minhsang Dinh said. “To me, art is expressing your views on society and the world. Since we have to fulfill these A-G requirements, I’m glad I chose ceramics.”

“I think people should be aware of what’s going on in the world,” senior Moises Neri said. “It gives students a chance to show and voice their opinion on certain issues through their work.”

Another goal Calderón wants to achieve for herself this school year is to create a sense of  community in her classes.  Calderón also wishes to achieve the goal of respect and affirmation within the community.

“It’s about respecting our differences,” Calderón said. “That’s what I’m hoping to achieve in my classes as well as communicating, building, and making relationships with the staff members as well. Essentially, creating a community within a community.”

However, there has already been parental disagreement concerning the social topic artworks that are being included into the lesson plan. After a recent parent-teacher conference, it has been settled that only two of the main social justice concepts will be incorporated into the students’ four artwork pieces being: human relations and multicultural outlooks. The works will be “community based” and will make students ask “how does my culture influence who I am.”