Art Teacher Eric Drotch Travels to Israel

By Caroline C.
Section Editor

This past summer Art Teacher Eric Drotch was selected to be a Fulbright Scholar.

The Fulbright Scholarship Program is a highly selective, merit-based program that allows chosen members to conduct research abroad. Forty-three Fulbright alumni were also Nobel Prize recipients.

Drotch spent four months in Israel researching art in the kindergarten through college education system. In recent years, Israeli artists have been gaining recognition throughout the world and Drotch wanted to determine what is happening in the schools to help feed that growth.

“What I discovered is that Israeli artists are succeeding in spite of the art system,” Drotch said. “They have to be more resourceful, more motivated.”

During high school all work is geared towards a final exam that is taken at the end of senior year that determines what, if any, college a student may go to. In addition, after high school, Israelis are required to serve in the army for two to three years, which makes it difficult for those interested in art to pursue it.

Drotch visited a total of nine schools, where he talked to many art teachers about the art programs.

“It was interesting to be in cross-cultural communication with the other teachers,” Drotch said. “I enjoyed talking to those teachers who go through the same uphill battle of teaching art as I do. We teach art knowing that few, if any, will actually end up pursuing it.”

There is not a lot of funding for art in Israel and it is difficult to make a career out of it, so those who pursue it must have a great appreciation for it. While there Drotch learned more about what drives people to create art.

“Because Israel is in a constant state of war, the artwork is really Israelis making the best out of the situation,” Drotch said. “The context in which they teach and learn art is very different because the mindset is different.”

Drotch not only learned about art in Israeli schools but also discovered more about Israeli culture while on his trip.

“It is very interesting to be in Israel and to watch the interactions of many different people in a dense country,” Drotch said. “It is all very dynamic. I also learned that even though Israel is a Western country and their ideas are very similar to ours, their art is different. This experience made me think more about the context in which art is made, the forces that make someone do it.”