Matthew Broking | December 2018
Hometown: Eagle Rock/Los Angeles, California
Major: Design | Media Arts
Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education
Q: How did you discover your interest in the arts and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as a teaching artist?
A: Drawing was always a hobby of mine since I was quite young. My mom was an elementary school teacher and always encouraged me to paint and draw. She took me to the local art center at a very young age and had me take a few courses there when I was around 6 or 7 years-old. Although, to be completely honest, I started to practice drawing more and more because I was jealous of my brother and his drawing abilities. My interests in Design and media started when I was even younger. Around 4 or 5 years old my dad sat me down on his lap and taught me how to use MS-DOS to load and run video games like, Wolfenstein 3D, Fisher Price Bowling, and DOOM. It was pretty much done at that point and I knew I wanted to make video games. On the other hand, my teaching career started when I volunteered at Annandale elementary school, where my mom taught for over 30 years. After graduating High school I eventually got a Teacher’s assistant position in the kindergarten classes, and then by my third year there I moved up to the 5th grade classes. After leaving Annandale I was a tutor and teacher’s assistant in both the Arts and Design Technology departments at Pasadena City College. When transferring to UCLA I could not resist signing up for VAPAE courses.
Q: Describe what the student artists in your VAPAE after school arts or arts enrichment program are working on and the process they’re using.
A: In the after school program, MASA @ TORRES, the students had the opportunity to explore many mediums. The class started by making Zines using collage techniques and then moved onto Dia de Los Muertos accordion booklets. Students printed images of passed loved ones to adorn their booklets in dedication to them and also decorated the booklets with other materials. For the next project students stepped away from paper and booklets and moved onto clay. We provided terra-cotta clay and gave limited instruction, only showing some techniques on how to handle the clay. We did not want to limit their creative processes by giving a detailed instructions of what the final result should look like. Students were free to sculpt and design whatever they liked. It was an amazing sight to see when they were finished. The pieces ranged from small functional pottery to mini tacos, dinosaurs, and ice cream cones. After all the clay projects dried students had the opportunity to paint their projects which really brought a the pieces to life.
Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?
A: First of all, enrichment opportunities like this are not common. They do not exist in every community as they should. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have those experiences with making art in the local art center. I hold those experiences so close to my heart that I don’t know if I would have enjoyed art as much as I do now without them. These enrichment opportunities offer an experience with one’s creative mind. It offers a free, safe, creative space in which participants can be inspired by others and vice versa. Opportunities like this allow participants to roam free in their creativity and, personally, I don’t think making art alone at home can ever be the same as making art in a group settings like VAPAE’s programs offer. The materials that are offered are given free of charge so there is no worry about how art materials can be a financial burden and therefore there’s never that tiny voice in the back of your head telling you to use less materials to save money. Though these factors may seem insignificant to some they can be a limiting factor in one’s creative processes whether they are aware of it or not. Opportunities to be creative are very important and it’s importance is not limited to only the art world.
Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?
A: As mentioned before, I had an opportunity similar to this. I was enrolled in a few art classes at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts when I was very young. I have vivid memories of working with clay, paints, and one where I filled in Black and white images with colored pencil. These experiences are the cornerstone of my creative mind. I do not recall earlier memories of art making prior to the ones in this program and I don’t know how interested I would be in art without them.
Q: What do you personally gain as a teaching artist, arts facilitator?
A: I love to help people learn and I think that is what’s the most addictive about arts education. Teaching arts and seeing an entire classroom of students create such beautiful work, with only a few lines of instructions and guidance, is truly inspirational for me and my artwork as well. Teaching also helps me continue to learn. I always have to step back and remember the process of how to do something and in doing so I find gaps in my own knowledge that I need to be filled.
Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?
A: The VAPAE program was a great choice in terms of my education as a student and it’s teachings have only benefited me as a graduate. As a LAUSD alum I had only one view of how education worked and VAPAE turned everything around. I always knew that everyone learned in different ways but it was VAPAE that helped me to understand the specifics of why that is. The VAPAE program opened my eyes to the way education needs to be, not just Arts education but education as a whole. I can now be an agent of the much needed change of our educational system.
Q: Are there any anecdotes from your time as a VAPAE Teaching Artist at an Arts Enrichment or After school Arts Programs that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a breakthrough with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.
A: When I was an art student, which wasn’t that long ago, I never liked the restrictions in our assignment. I realized afterwards, when I was an artist with no assigned prompts, that it was difficult for me to come up with ideas of what to make. I always wanted the freedom to do anything I pleased but it was then that I realized I actually needed to set more rules for myself in order to create. When planning a lesson that I led this past semester I made sure to set parameters of how the final result of the project would look like. The lesson didn’t go as I had expected and the students didn’t seem to enjoy the process as much as thought they would either. It then remembered that I never wanted restrictions, all I wanted was an assigned medium to work with and to go from there. So I did just that for the next project. I got 50 lbs of terra-cotta clay and let the students do and make whatever they pleased. Allowing the students to fully explore their creative freedom and seeing what the students created was an incredible moment for me.
Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?
A: Short term I want to get a job in game design in a studio somewhere in Los Angeles while working part time as an arts educator. Long term I want to develop my own game production studio and work part time as a professor in a design school.