Artist Spotlight - Media Master, Mike Hazard

"Community, collaboration, communication, curiosity, and creativity combine to make good work." Take a look back at Mike Hazard's Artist Spotlight. AKA Media Mike, Hazard is a COMPAS artist who's passion for photography and media is as apparent as his vast skill sets. 

Hey Mike, what inspired you to become a teaching artist? What is your art form?

IMG_0500 Mike Hazard tiny camera smile_photo by Tressa Sularz.jpg

I love to make art, I love to learn, and I needed a job. I teach video, poetry, and photography with people of all ages. We learn by making, hands on.  Wherever I go to teach, my nickname is Media Mike.

What has been most helpful to you in your work?

Community, collaboration, communication, curiosity, and creativity combine to make good work.

This is a true story.

When I work as a teaching artist, I often find myself on the road. I am an ambassador for art.

On the road, teaching COMPAS gig in Badger, Minnesota, I was hanging around in the town café.

With Soul Mountain open, a great novel by the Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian, and my journal open, open-mouthed over my oatmeal, open-eared, I began to transcribe the conversation from the table next to me. Two old men were talking about revenge. “All it is is revenge.”

IMG_2565 Mike Hazard Osakis corn field by Tressa Sularz.jpg

One said he overheard a person say he had waited 25 years to get back at someone. Another joked he was still waiting. The first said he couldn't live like that, and it changed your life forever to think like that. I was busy trying to keep up with their talk when I realized they had turned to me and asked, "Are you studying for college?"

Oddball in our cafe. Explain yourself.

And we talked, or they talked and mostly I listened. It was a trip. It was a scene right out of Soul Mountain, a stop on the journey searching for the meaning of meanings. Among many little bits of philosophy, when he learned I was a teaching artist, this huge man told me the parable of the two students with the exact same first name and last name.

One was always good and one was always bad. Everybody knew who was good and who was bad, including the two kids themselves. Then one night at a parent teacher conference, their teacher mixed up the students and described the bad one to the good one's parents and the good one to the bad one's parents.

Late that night the teacher realized she had slipped up and wondered what to do.

The next day the "bad" child spoke up to the teacher who had slipped up, and gratefully thanked her for being the first teacher ever to say a nice thing about him. He changed, like magic, and was "good" from then on.

The alchemy of education. The naming of names. Soul Mountain.

What have you learned are the unique talents of a teaching artist?

Being yourself. Teach others how to be themselves.

Be diplomatic. Like directors who often wear hats on movie sets, I like to wear a black baseball cap. In many schools, hats are not allowed. One of the first things I have to figure out is where I can wear my hat in school.

One lesson then is the example I set. In many venues, I am the only person wearing a hat.

Artists are different.

What have you learned that a teaching artist needs to know?

You need to learn how to relate to people of all ages, and all interest levels, from non-existent to totally engaged.

You also need to know what you are doing.

I have learned never to underestimate the students. Here is an essay about making a video with students who are blind and low vision.