I lead a double life. To the world I'm just Bruce Hucko. To the children (plus parents and teachers) of HMK Elementary School in Moab I am "Art Coach!" I've been teaching art to children since 1978 when I first moved to the Utah Strip of the Navajo Reservation. I went there to conduct a Children's Photographic Workshop for 2 weeks and ended up staying 10 years! That in itself is a long story, too long for here.
After serving as the kindergarten teacher's aide for 2 years I applied for the Utah Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Program and was accpeted. InOur principal saw a good thing and made it possible for me to be a full-time art teacher. We built an amazing program! In 1984, we received one of 10 Rockefeller Bros. Fund Awards for Excellence in Arts Education. David Jr. came to the school to award our $10,000 check! He and I then drove to Mexican Hat for a beer, much to the chagrin of my dear....Mormon...principal.
Near the end of my time there I befriended the director of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe. Before I knew it our Navajo kids had an exhibit there and we took 42 of them to Santa Fe. I was asked to consider becoming their director of education. I'd just purchased a home in Moab, but felt that I should follow the flow of serendipity.....so I took the job. The job description was a blank piece of paper. It was my task to create an education program worthy of a major museum.
While performing my job I spent a bit of time among the 8 Northern Pueblo Day Schools. Several principals and the superintendent asked me to consider working for them. The musuem job had turned dark with a new director and so I followed serendipity again. I worked full-time in 5 pueblo day schools. After a few years I felt we had some great work. It was rather deja vu! One thing led to another and I pitched a book of pueblo children's art to the School of American Research Press. This was the institutions first trade book, and we did pretty well. I received a 1998 Southwest Book Award and the 1997 Carey McWilliams Award from MultiCultural Review as "the best book on the US experience of cultural diversity" for Where There Is No Name For Art: the Art of Tewa Pueblo Children. We had an exhibit at the Governor's Gallery at the State Capital in Santa Fe as part of our book release!
Soon after that, A Rainbow at Night: The World in Words and Pictures by Navajo Children was released. It was actually in production before the pueblo book, but took longer. Chronicle Books published it to great acclaim.
In 1998, after 8 years in Santa Fe (Santa Fake or Fanta-Se as I call it!) I felt the tug to return to Moab. I returned to Moab and conducted two-week art residencies in many schools, especially those in southern Utah. I was also invited by friend Hal Canon to create a photo and audio program for teens at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, NV. Hal had founded this wonderful institution. Besides being home to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering it became home to Voices of Youth - an audio and photography project whereby area teens learn to creatively document their lives and community. My buddy Jack Loeffler (audio) and I conducted that summer project for 5 years. I brought it home to our Moab high school where I conducted the program during the winter trimester for 5 years. During that time I took our young radio producers to national conferences and we had a photo/audio exhibit tour Utah.
I was doing my landscape photography, working on a few books, conducting residencies and pretty much piecing together enought income to live rather comfortably in Moab.....whatever that means. Then along came the Beverley Taylor Sorenson - Arts Learning Program. I helped our Red Rock Elementary School write the grant to fund a full-time art educator and was summarily asked to take the position. After taking a quick mental survey of the state of being an independent photographer in the world of Getty, FB and Twitter, I said, "I'm in!" That began in 2007 and I've enjoyed every second of being in the classroom full-time. You should come see us! The job is award enough, but I'm please to state that I was named 2015 Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the Utah Art Education Association (my peers!)
I have found that being Art Coach! to kids really supports my teaching of photography to adults. Daily, I converse in visual art terms and so am well-trained at breaking down the creative process to short, sequential, instructional elements. You can view work from our Look Where We Live project where 3rd and 4th graders paint on site at Canyonlands and Arches National Parks by clicking here. Hucko Blurb Books