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Langara instructor keeps performing to better her teaching

Elizabeth Milton teaches studio arts and performs her own original works

Elizabeth Milton takes a look at the work of two of her students, Hannah Schmedding and Anastasiia Kupinen, during a first year Fine Arts class. Photo: Nick Valka
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Reported by Nick Valka

A Langara College instructor still finds excitement in teaching the next generation of artists while also being a contributing participant in the arts community for the past 15 years.

Over the weekend, Elizabeth Milton, a studio arts instructor at Langara and SFU, performed as a historic diva character of her own creation who experiences a backstage breakdown. Her piece was part of Shooting Gallery, a multiplatform series of dance, theatre and performance art at the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret, which featured five local artists.

“It’s important for all of us as a faculty to be engaged in the local community, to forge relationships between our students and local artists in town,” Milton said. “To be practicing and to be able to support our students from being students to being practicing artists themselves.”

Milton’s work includes performance, as well as media art, which has been presented in dozens of venues across Canada.

From one generation to another

During her time as an undergraduate student, many of Milton’s instructors were practicing artists. This glimpse into the working world is something that she now passes down to her students.

“Having a teacher who’s making a life doing art as well, who introduces you to other artists who are making a living out of the skills that we’re gaining here,” said Hannah Schmedding, a first year Fine Arts student of Milton’s. “You see a potential future.”

Important to learn from practicing artists

While earning her masters in Studio Art at UBC, Milton became a teaching assistant to support herself. She found that it was important to learn from those who are directly involved in the field, rather than those with a direct background in education.

Philip Robbins, a design studio instructor at Langara said staying current in the art world is just part of the practice.

“Art isn’t something you do, it’s something you are,” Robbins said. “You develop that sense of who you are in the arts through a period of time, and once you start teaching you don’t become a different person.”

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