Teaching others can sometimes be the best way to learn and improve, and Aimee Belanger (@aimeebelangerart) gets it. Along with crafting an impressive portfolio of ink, paint, and ceramic work, the 32-year-old Dartmouth native teaches art in middle school and on weekends at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, making it a requirement to keep up with artistic trends and to adopt new styles. Between her many personal pieces and class art projects, Belanger’s Instagram page serves as a perfect way to showcase the many facets of her work.
Q. What’s your artistic background?
A. I’ve always painted and drawn; I see them as very similar mediums, so I’ve always done both. Clay is very new to me — I started doing it because I had to teach it, so I had to learn it on the fly, and as I was teaching myself I realized that I really liked it. But drawing and painting are my first interests and my entry point. Even in my clay work, I do a lot of drawing on the surface of it.
Q. Does teaching other people about art make you think more deeply about your own approach?
A. I think it definitely does. I teach at the MFA, so I’m obviously seeing new work all the time. I teach an intensive drawing course for teenagers, meaning I might be in, say, Egyptian sculptures for four hours on a Saturday. I really have to examine that stuff and spend time in the rooms, and so I’ve started to look at work that I’ve never looked at quite as closely. Also, hearing kids’ different interests, seeing what they want to do, and then building that into my curriculum has exposed me to new media and new artists. Right now, I’m doing Murakami with my middle schoolers, which is in reference to the show at the MFA, and looking at his illustrations definitely made me see different works I never would’ve explored as deeply.
Q. How would you describe Boston’s artistic community?
A. It’s more diverse than people would expect. I mean we have some of the best museums in probably the country, maybe even the world, so we have access to a lot of great stuff. Then there’s the tons and tons of grassroots, communal art-making going on in organizations like Boston Hassle, independent galleries, and artist collectives. I think that’s all a really good thing, and I love that people have these more casual platforms to show their work. It was kind of dry for a little bit in Boston; you were either in a gallery on Newbury Street or you weren’t really doing much, but there are some pockets of artists who have been able to create a scene from that. It’s really cool that there’s now a lot of enthusiasm for DIY spaces and movements.
Q. What are the pros and cons to sharing your work on Instagram?
A. Instagram is awesome, though I was kind of a late adopter. I started the professional art Instagram after leaving my last job and a lot of my teenage high school students wanted to follow me, but I didn’t really feel comfortable with that. I figured I should have a separate account for my work anyway, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive attention and opportunities from the account. I was interviewed by the clay company Amaco; they just happened to find my stuff online and I ended up in an ad in “Ceramics Monthly,” which was insane. Just from using local hashtags and tagging different people, I’ve been able to find a set of really great artists and businesses, which is awesome. But I think my number one way of actually selling my work is still in person, with the aid of digital formats. The analog world is still ruling, I think.
Robert Steiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org