“As an arts administrator for an arts education organization, the renewal experience has given me deeper insights into the teaching/learning relationship that is essential for student engagement.”
Karen Thickstun recalls her fellowship in five simple words, “to become a student again.” Her subject of choice: photography. “Through photography, I wanted to experience the arts through a visual lens instead of the aural approach of music,” she said. “I hoped to experience the joy and wonder that children do when learning something new.” First, she gathered the essentials: a Nikon D7200 DSLR camera and Adobe Photoshop software. Next were photography lessons with a Butler Art + Design major. “Taking lessons with a Butler student has rejuvenated me by providing the perspective that our BCAS students experience every week. As the study of music taught me to listen more deeply, so the study of photography is teaching me to observe more keenly.”
Next, Thickstun sought out a proper muse, and what better views could one capture than in beautiful Hawaii. The destination was a first for both Thickstun and her travel partner, her 87-year-old mother. Together, they explored iconic sites, such as the Diamond Head volcanic cone and Pearl Harbor. “I noticed that some of the best photos happened when I was still and listened, watched, and waited for the right moment,” she said. “Being still and listening more deeply or observing more keenly is something I am striving to incorporate more in my professional life, as well as in my personal life and spiritual journey.” Thickstun found another unexpected muse closer to home: the southern Indiana of her husband’s childhood.
Like a couple other fellows, Thickstun enjoyed her project so much so that she continued her photography lessons after her fellowship term expired.