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Sima Utku, Visual Artist

Şima Utku is an artist based in New York, born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She holds a BFA in Illustration from School of Visual Arts in New York and a previous BFA in Visual Communication Design from Istanbul Bilgi University. Her work examines the relationship between personal and collective unconscious and draws inspiration from psychology, archetypes, mysticism, nature and storytelling traditions. Her current practice focuses on painting, drawing and printmaking.

Şima’s experience as an educator started as a teaching assistant in weekly art workshops at Depo, a prominent art and culture space in Istanbul. There she found the opportunity to work with students of diverse backgrounds aged between 4-14. She joined TAP to further her teaching practice and gain experience in a classroom setting. She’s a passionate advocate of art education as a catalyst for personal empowerment, social transformation and healing.

TAP Work:

"I came to TAP with previous hands on experience but needed a stronger foundation for my teaching practice. During the workshops we learned about classroom management strategies, creating lesson plans and curriculums and art education with a social justice focal point. The self reflective and collaborative nature of the program helped deepen my understanding of the reasons that motivate me to teach, and also provided a great environment to meet like minded artists.

During my training, I worked with teaching artists Jane Elias and Nichelle Ryan in two different first grade classes at PS 316 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Combining writing and visual arts, their residency concentrated on encouraging the students to be part of a universal community through projects that focused on art and storytelling from diverse cultures around the world. Towards the end of the residency I had the opportunity to teach a lesson I developed in these two classes, which was incredibly helpful for me to experience what it’s like to create and lead classes.

The combination of the knowledge I gained from the workshops and the practical experience I had during my training through TAP has been an invaluable source for me in shaping and strengthening my teaching practice."

Most Memorable TAP Moment:

"I had so many memorable moments in the program it’s kind of hard to choose. I have a special affection for didgeridoo, so Andre playing this magnificent instrument when opening one of our first workshops really stayed with me. Several warm ups and ice breakers during workshops that helped our community connect in genuine and meaningful ways, engaging in lots of collective and individual art-making and discussions were some of the highlights for me. It was an incredibly supportive environment that made room for a lot of self reflection and growth, both individually and together. I felt grateful for the ongoing presence and support of our community and our wonderful facilitators during the pandemic shutdown."

Find out more about Şima here:

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