ArtStarts in Schools Logo

Michael Markowsky

Discipline: Film / Video, Visual Arts
Homebase: Vancouver
Languages: English, French

I have taught art for over seven years, primarily at the Armory Centre for the Arts in Pasadena, California, where I taught Kindergarten through high school. I also taught art in public and private middle schools around Los Angeles. I won America's highest honour for teaching art to children and adults with mental and physical disabilities (Power of Art Award). I currently teach drawing at Emily Carr University. My personal art practice involves drawing, painting and performance. I am a very high energy, passionate and personable teacher. My goal is to awaken a student's hidden talents.


I can easily attest that Michael is one of the most talented teachers I have worked with. He begins each class by establishing an atmosphere where students feel safe to be vulnerable, in order to explore ideas, materials and techniques outside of their comfort zones. His students also seemed highly engaged and excited to be taking his classes. Christopher Michlig, Armory Center for the Arts
Having worked with Michael for several years, I had many opportunities to visit and observe him in action. He is an incredibly gifted teacher with a multitude of talents and skills to offer to his students. He makes personal connections with his participants and is attentive to their individual needs while being mindful of the overall group. Chelsea Dean, Armory Center for the Arts
I can attest to the fact that Michael is an artist who embraces teaching in a spirit of huge generosity and refined enthusiasm. His nimble mind and acrobatic eye inspire much creative risk-taking while his broad foundation in theory and practice sets a well-defined stage. Michael also displays a teacher-to-student 'presence' that creates true dialogue, empowering a wide array of voices and temperaments. Laura Parker, Armory Center for the Arts

Project Examples

My Dream Come True

I believe my purpose as an artist is to inspire students, so I like to ask them to brainstorm their dream career(s) and goals in life. I also ask them to think of the steps they have to take to achieve those goals, so they begin to think about the work, practice, education involved. We create a series of quick sketches of a selection of the words (sometimes make a collage) they have generated, and eventually refine them into one single finished drawing (like a "movie poster") that we then colour with watercolour paints, with select inspirational words.

Short Film Festival

I have extensive experience working with kids of all ages to write, act and direct their own short films. These films can be done over a period of weeks, or even in one 1 hour class! I encourage the students to explore ideas that are important to them, and think of situations that they can explore using minimal props or costumes. I sometimes work with teachers and principals to have the students create themed projects around ideas of bullying, violence or drug abuse, so that students can problem solve these situations on their own.

Exploding Volcanoes

One of my favorite art projects is to build imaginary cities on the edge of a clay volcano, using clay and found materials (beads, buttons, stones, leaves, etc.). We then paint the sculpture and explode it using baking soda and vinegar. This is a very exciting project for kids because they get to create an artwork and then interact with it, play with it. We look at images of Pompeii, as well as volcanoes on other planets, and I encourage students to invent their own imaginary places and create narratives before and after the explosion.

Browse Artists in the Classroom Directory