We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. C. Joyce Price and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. C. Joyce, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
My purpose keeps me going. As long as I remember my purpose, I have a natural determination to continue. When I stray from my focus or ignore a new calling, that is when I start to wonder about whether what I do makes an impact. I have two purposes in my life that I know about at this moment. One of them is to be a teacher who makes a difference in my students’ lives. I enjoy this calling. Currently I teach in the Teacher Education and Learning Framework Departments at Dallas College’s Downtown Campus (El Centro College) and in the Teacher Education Department at University of North Texas. My other purpose is to inspire and move my audiences with my artwork. Painting was not a calling of which I was aware until I was almost forty years old. When I began, I drifted among a wide range of subjects and messages before I understood my own voice as an artist. It is really no surprise to me that painting children, family, and school scenes moves me the most. My work conveys love for something or someone: love for learning, love for teaching, love in relationships, love for life, love for one’s identity, love for God. I want my audiences to feel warmth, and I want them to linger in around the details of my scenes and find themselves. And they tell me they do! This is how I know not to stop, not to give up, but to keep going. So, I stay motivated to teach and to make more art.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I blend my professional and creative sides because both are significant parts of my identity. I am excited about three projects that are currently in the works. The first is a collaboration with two Black women in higher ed with whom I connected while traveling to Ghana, West Africa last year during its “Year of Return – 1619-2019,” a commemoration of the first enslavement of African people 400 years ago. The project is a study that will explore the experiences of Black teachers who teach for social justice.  We are using Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot’s Portraiture to conduct a multi-case study that draws heavily from Dr. Bettina Love’s (2019) book entitled We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. In addition to the written portraits, we want to include photography and my artist renderings of the participants.

For the second project, our Ghana travel group submitted a proposal to the American Educational Research Association’s 2020 conference which was to be held in San Francisco, California. Our proposal was accepted as a group panel during which my portion would have been to represent, through painting and poetry, a deeper appreciation of my own identity as a descendant of slaves and as an influencer in my classrooms. My signature contribution was a 4 by 6-foot rendering which I have almost finished painting and have yet to name. This piece features me wearing the dress I designed while in Africa. A Ghanaian woman use the batik method to make the fabric, and another Ghanaian woman made the dress by studying my design and stitching it together without a pattern. The dress represents the mixture of my American identity, African heritage and the empowerment that is fueled by pride in this identity. A second piece which is nearly finished is a classroom scene with a background of colors drawn from my dress representing how knowledge of and love for my own heritage and identity can be an enveloping, positive influence on the students of color that I encounter, and that this influence can inspire black children to love themselves and their heritage. The third in the trilogy is in the works and will again, have a background in the colors of my dress and the image of a successful woman – perhaps a ballet dancer or another profession. The idea is to illustrate how being influenced by an educator with a strong self-concept throughout a child’s learning journey can help produce adults confident in their abilities to succeed. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused conference organizers to cancel; therefore, our group intends to resubmit our work for next year’s conference. With now another year’s notice, I foresee extending my trilogy to become an even more in-depth series of several works inspired by identity appreciation and the possible affects this appreciation has on learning and self-esteem for students of color.

For the third project, I am partnering again with Dr. Cynthia B. Dillard, Mary Frances Early Professor of Education at University of Georgia. Dr. Dillard founded the first school in Mpeasem Village in Ghana, West Africa and continues to build the school with her husband. To do so, she raises money to fund new developments, and I have assisted her in the past through the sale of prints of my painting series entitled, “Futures of Mpeasem.” I donated $2,000 to the school, and one of the paintings in this series was selected as the cover art for Journal of Language and Literacy Education in 2017. I am currently working on a second series of paintings for another fundraiser with Dr. Dillard, and some of these works will be based on life in Mpeasem Village and at the Dillard International School. I plan to finish the series this summer and start the second fundraiser with Dr. Dillard shortly thereafter.

I have not yet discovered ways to merge my painting directly with my daily teaching in higher ed, but how that ultimately turns out remains to be seen, as I continue to be open to learning how my purposes will continue to evolve. Right now, my higher ed colleagues and I have all responded to the COVID-19 tragedy by serving our students online.

Currently, what I am most proud of regarding my teaching at the college and university level is that I recently received the 2020 Adjunct Excellent in Teaching Award from Dallas College, Downtown Campus. It was a surprise and a humbling experience. When I first began teaching more than 30 years ago, I never imagined that I would be an artist one day. And then when I became an artist, I never imagined that these two loves would merge. Now that they have, I feel more than ever like I am exactly where I want to be in this moment. And I am excited about the future! I believe God takes who He made you to be and what you are called to do to make paths that are uniquely for you. And when you walk those paths, you and others will always be the beneficiaries of the blessings.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Oh wow. Well, I am sort of a home body! It isn’t that I don’t enjoy going out, but I really enjoy simple pleasures – homemade meals, painting in my studio – those kinds of things. However, when I do go out, I love good music and good gluten free food – and yes, there is such a thing as great gluten free food! LOL!

The Bishop Arts Theater Center in Dallas has some wonderful musicians – specifically smooth jazz, as that is what my husband and I love to hear. I would recommend that spot to anyone! This is their link: https://bishopartstheatre.org/

Then I would take them to the Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth. Here is the link: http://www.jubileetheatre.org/. They have GREAT plays and musicals written and directed by Black artists. Audiences of all kinds and tastes can find extraordinary performances there. I have never been disappointed with a show.

I love the food at Cafe Herrera at the Omni Hotel in Dallas. Here is their link: https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/dallas/dining/restaurants-on-lamar/cafe-herrera. Wonderful gluten free food and margaritas! Yum!

I enjoy the Alamo Draft house in downtown Dallas for seeing a great movie and for chilling on their terrace. Johnson (my husband) and I were there on a sunny Saturday afternoon for our 23rd anniversary. Here is their link: https://drafthouse.com/dfw/theater/cedars

And I like to ride with my husband on the rental bikes through the Trinity River sidewalks in Fort Worth. We sometimes will ride the Trinity Railway Express from Dallas to Fort Worth and then ride bikes to Sundance Square.

We have eaten at Cantina Laredo https://drafthouse.com/dfw/theater/cedars, and they have great food as well. You can tell that I like Tex Mex! That certainly would not fill up a week, but it would cover most all of my favorite places to go with my husband who is my absolute favorite date!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Credit goes to my biggest supporters – first family and then friends. My husband of nearly 24 years – Johnson T. Price, a phenomenal photographer, has supported me from the beginning, when I first thought I might be able to paint. He came home one day with my very first easel, and that encouraged me to really try painting.

My father, who practiced his art when he was a high school student and young teacher, once painted backdrops for school plays, painted portraits of himself and my mother, and taught art for a short time. His genes are mine! And he is very proud of me.

My mother and sister and niece provide the rest of the 100% cheerleading moral support that I need and love and appreciate. My niece does so when she routinely asks to come to my house so she can paint with me in my backyard art studio. When she says she wants to come, it encourages me as a teacher and an artist – I must be doing something right!

Among my friends, all of them, but particularly my artist friends with whom I have bonded over the years, provide support for me all the time. The most influential ones in my life are artist teachers at Visual Expressions Creative Arts School and Gallery in Cedar Hill, Texas. Robin Ingle, her daughter Jennifer, and their family own the place, and Robin hired me to teach children’s and teen’s art on the weekends. My confidence grew more when I also began conducting art parties there. And there is Kelli Howie, a dear friend of mine who began as my art teacher and over the years, has become someone that I trust to really see and understand my visions for designs when I share them with her. And finally, there is James, also a teacher at the school and a phenomenal artist. His knowledge, feedback, and encouragement have been wonderful for me as well.

There was a time that I did not trust my instinct and relied heavily on of all of these individuals to talk me through nearly every art move I made. But I believe that their support helped me find my own artist voice. So, these days, I begin and finish my own designs and creations, I think of these artist friends who have always encouraged me. And so I am very grateful to them.

Website: cjoyceprice.com
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cejoprice

Image Credits
C. Joyce Price