Chris Whiteburch says it’s odd being a college student. At 33 he’s experienced life a little longer than many of his classmates. He’d been enrolled in community college previously, but it wasn’t until 2008, when his custom carpentry business crumpled, that Chris realized he needed to focus on a degree if he wanted to be creative and make a living.
He started working toward a degree in Radio, Television and Film by taking classes at McLennan Community College in Waco, and during an art appreciation class decided to change his degree plan to art.
“There was a lot of contemporary art going on that I wanted to be a part of,” Chris said. “It’s been a great journey.”
When Chris directed his attention to art, he set his sights on Austin and The University of Texas where he has become very involved in the art community working with Co-Lab, an artist-run nonprofit, and the art collective Ink Tank.
Nearly two years ago, Chris was asked to be a mentor with ArtHouse (now The Contemporary Austin). The student Chris worked with for eight months made a lasting impact him.
“I was really impressed with the kid,” he said. “I was involved in all parts of the art community, and it made sense to add the art education side of things. It’s a way to make a living in my field while making a difference.”
Now a senior studio art and art education major, Chris is excited to begin student teaching this spring.
“I’m ready to get into the classroom,” Chris said. “You build up to it, and then you can’t wait to get in the classroom.”
The arts weren’t present during his childhood, Chris said, and he plans to put forth a lot of effort to bring the visual arts to as many people as he can through community outreach and teaching.
“The arts help us think in ways that no other engaging activities do,” Chris said. “Yes, the subject I will teach is Art, but I’ll be doing more than that. I’ll be using art to teach people how to think. Sometimes questions that will allow us to process things that are more abstract lead to higher level thinking.”