Meet Teaching Artist Ty Chapman
Ty Chapman is a Twin Cities–based author, poet, puppeteer, and playwright of Nigerian and European descent. He has been creating art with social justice themes for many years and is passionate about speaking to the Black experience in America. His recent accomplishments include being named a Loft Literary Center Mirrors and Windows fellow, creating a one-man shadow puppet and marionette show for Puppet Lab, and publishing a collection of poems through SOFTBLOW. You can find more on his website or by following him on Twitter.
Learn more about and register for Ty's upcoming classes by visiting his artist bio.
When did you start teaching? What path—career or otherwise—brought you here?
At the age of 18, I began my career as an educator. I started by teaching work skills at an adult day program. From there, I began to work with high school and elementary school students. I helped with academics and taught life skills and healthy coping habits. I eventually parted ways with traditional education settings to focus on my career as an artist.
How would you describe your teaching style?
My process tends to be fluid and patient. While I always provide a base structure, I am very open to student input and enjoy adjusting the lesson plan to meet student need/interest.
When it comes to imagining and creating classes, where do your ideas come from? What in particular inspires you?
For myself, the creative and language arts were instrumental in my development as a young person. I wasn't a particularly happy kid, and I spent a great deal of time disappearing into different worlds—sometimes of my own creation. I feel passionate about sharing those creative tools with others, in hopes that they too will find joy in the written page and one day pass that joy on.
What's the ideal environment for your classroom? What atmosphere are you hoping to establish?
My ideal classroom environment is a safe space where students feel excited to share and build community.
Regardless of what your class is specifically focusing on, what's the main goal you have for your students?
My main goal for my students is that they walk away with new tools to build worlds and tell stories. In my development as an artist and writer, there have been many teachers and mentors who have helped me along the way. It is my belief that it takes a village to make great art.
What are goals you have for yourself? These could be teaching goals, writing goals, career goals, community goals, etc.
I believe that we are never done learning as artists or as people. My goals are to advance my writing career, continue to cultivate new skills as a writer, and share those skills with young people.
What have been some of your own favorite educational experiences?
In high school, I had a theater teacher who introduced me to social justice theater and poetry. She focused on creating a safe space for students to learn and grow, and I've aspired to bring that sense of safety and community to education ever since.
To you personally, what is the most important part of the literary arts?
I think there's something beautiful about sharing your story with others. While it preserves a feeling or moment or memory, it also has the potential to connect with others on a scale (and level of depth) that would be otherwise difficult. We can all think of a story or poem that helped us get through hard times or taught us a valuable lesson—to me, that is the most important part of the literary arts.