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Michael Markowsky

Discipline: Film / Video, Interdisciplinary, Visual Arts
Homebase: Vancouver
Languages: English, French
Contact Me: (604) 788-5433 , Email , Web

I am a very high energy, passionate and personable teacher! My goal is to awaken a student's hidden talents and build their self-confidence. Besides leading classroom activities and workshops, I also can deliver a 30 to 45-minute artist talk that touches on bullying and goal setting. I've done these talks to entire schools gathered in their gymnasiums, so I'm comfortable in many different situations. I have taught art to young people (K through 12) for over 17 years, through the ArtStarts "Artists in the Classroom" program around the Lower Mainland, and previously at the Armory Centre for the Arts where taught art in public and private schools around Los Angeles, California. In 2007, I won The Robert Rauschenberg "Power of Art" Award: the highest honour for teaching art to children and adults with mental and physical disabilities in the entire United States. I currently teach drawing at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. My personal art practice involves drawing, painting and performance. As an official Canadian "war artist" from 2009-2015, I made landscape drawings while traveling faster than the speed of sound in an F-18 Hornet fighter jet plane (the subject of an acclaimed 2014 documentary film), and I am the first person to have made paintings while standing at the actual North Pole! I like to talk about these adventures because it shows young people that there are many different kinds of art beyond the boring stuff we read about in textbooks!


I can easily attest that Michael is one of the most talented teachers I have worked with. He begins each class by establishing an atmosphere where students feel safe to be vulnerable, in order to explore ideas, materials and techniques outside of their comfort zones. His students also seemed highly engaged and excited to be taking his classes. Christopher Michlig, Armory Center for the Arts
Having worked with Michael for several years, I had many opportunities to visit and observe him in action. He is an incredibly gifted teacher with a multitude of talents and skills to offer to his students. He makes personal connections with his participants and is attentive to their individual needs while being mindful of the overall group. Chelsea Dean, Armory Center for the Arts
I can attest to the fact that Michael is an artist who embraces teaching in a spirit of huge generosity and refined enthusiasm. His nimble mind and acrobatic eye inspire much creative risk-taking while his broad foundation in theory and practice sets a well-defined stage. Michael also displays a teacher-to-student 'presence' that creates true dialogue, empowering a wide array of voices and temperaments. Laura Parker, Armory Center for the Arts

Project Examples

Exploding Volcanoes

One of my favourite art projects is to build imaginary cities on the edge of a clay volcano, using clay and found materials (beads, buttons, stones, leaves, etc). We then paint the sculpture and explode it using baking soda and vinegar. This is a very exciting project for kids because they get to create an artwork and then interact with it, play with it. We look at images of Pompeii, as well as volcanoes on other planets, and I encourage students to invent their own imaginary places and create narratives before and after the explosion.

My Dream Come True

I believe my purpose as an artist is to inspire students, so I like to ask them to brainstorm their dream career(s) and goals in life. I also ask them to think of the steps they have to take to achieve those goals, so they begin to think about the work, practice and education involved. We make collages and create a series of quick sketches to help visualize their goals. Depending on the amount of time we have together, we make either a single finished artwork or a more expansive project that takes up to 8 weeks to complete. In the case of a single 1 to 2 hour session, we refine the sketches into a single finished drawing (like a "movie poster") that we then colour with watercolour paints, and decorate with inspirational words and phrases that have personal meaning to the students. When we work together for longer periods of time, we work on creating comic books, graphic novels and zines (multiple copies can be made on the photocopier!), that allow the students to fully articulate their visions. I show examples of different kinds of comics to inspire them. These illustrated stories are usually tied into themes that classroom teachers are already exploring with their students, such as autobiography, community, fiction, important moments in history, geography, the environment, science, etc. Obviously, the longer we have together the more profound the personal explorations! This project is particularly popular for teachers working with students who have behavioural issues.


As an award-winning figurative artist, I particularly enjoy sharing simple drawing and painting techniques that young people can learn quickly and immediately use to create stunning "realistic" artworks. One of these lessons involves learning to draw human faces in a simple step-by-step process and then, using small hand-held mirrors, getting students to apply the lesson to create their own self-portraits! I've done this with students from Grade 1 all the way through to Grade 12, and everytime teachers and parents are amazed by how students are able to capture their own likeness in their drawings. Depending on the time available, we use watercolour or coloured pencils to complete the artworks. I find simple projects like this help build a person's confidence, and this empowers them in all aspects of their learning and lives!

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