Monday, March 25, 2013

Visiting Dryden Elementary Art Program with Tricia Fuglestad

On Friday, March 22nd, I had the rare opportunity to leave my classroom and go visit another. Our school art program is in year one of the three year curriculum cycle. Year one involves research, which includes visiting other programs. I follow Tricia Fugelstad on Twitter and also the arted2.0 Ning network and have seen the dynamic ways she infuses technology into the hands-on elementary art program she runs. Her website for Dryden Elementary is phenomenal and the starting point for her branding of her entire program.  She is a wonderful art advocate and marketer of art!  

It is difficult to decide where to begin.  I wanted to meet Tricia because she teaches with iPads in the elementary art room.  I think this is impressive and amazing to give those skills to the youngest artists while still preserving and developing their hands on creativity skills.  Advanced levels of problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration  were apparent in the way her program is run. Students also dabble in sound, music, acting, writing, art history and other media to create their one-of-kind animations and video projects.  They are also learning basic photography skills in elementary school!  This is awesome!  Tricia's development of her students' literacy skills (visual, oral, written) is evident too, in the many project that link to math, literature and more.  

I learned so much on Friday.  First and foremost was meeting a dynamic Art Educator, who is so willing to share with others and spread her love of art and technology to all she meets.  Tricia advocates for her program attending many School Board meetings to constantly keep her art program in the forefront of their minds.  This was a great take away....don't wait until you're invited, invite yourself often! 

Another lesson had to do with software on the mac that I've already got and have access to.  Tricia taught me some new techniques and tricks in both the Preview software and Keynote.  The Preview take-away was great as I just thought Preview was for looking at your photos.  There are actual editing capabilities that I didn't know existed.  Using Keynote for building animations that involve video and photography was great.  I learned about the Alpha Key tool which enables you to do some pretty cool green screen style effects in Keynote.  This tool also exists in Preview and is part of what I will try to incorporate into the Photography class I already teach. I also got the chance to play around on her iPad.  I've used an iPad before and I have an iPhone, but thinking and using it for making art is different than playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends.  I learned about several new things about some apps I've seen and have, but haven't played with.

Tricia also uses an Ipevo, which is a small inexpensive web camera that when connected to the computer or iPad can display the demonstrations she's presenting on the screen.  It also can be used for stop motion animation to capture the image.  I learned about iMotion app for iPad, Sketchbook Express, Doink and then the previously mentioned new ways to work with Keynote and Preview

I think my favorite "Ah-Hah" moment however, was the way that Tricia delivers her lessons.  They are all packaged and saved to her website so she can access them from anywhere and so that others can see what she is doing.  She often uses music or her own animated character of herself projected on screen while students are entering the classroom. This immediately engages students while directing them what to do and how to get ready.  Class is fast-paced with only 45 minutes of art once a week.  How lucky her students are to have such a creative teacher!

The website and the packaging of the lessons really got me thinking about developing one place to house all of the digital content that I've amassed and developed.  Tricia has a wiki, a blog, Twitter, Artsonia account, dropbox and more, but the difference is that it isn't all scattered.  It is all housed under her website.   The marketing and branding of her program and all the professional work she does to make that program happen is the biggest lesson I learned.  What a fantastic experience!

Thanks so much to Tricia Fuglestad for generously hosting my visit!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tile A Mile 2013-Community Art Making and Fundraising

Every year at Pewaukee High School I host the Tile-A-Mile fundraising event to celebrate the Visual Arts and to raise money for our department scholarship and programs. I established this event in 2009 to raise awareness for our program. I also noticed that there was no Visual Art scholarship at the high school and yet, there were many worthy students going through our program and going onto college to study the Visual Arts. So it seemed we needed a scholarship.
The idea was to make art, have fun, raise money and also have a lasting community art project that would allow people to remember the event and the art department for years to come. Tile-A-Mile was born. Today the event is well established and features partnerships with local businesses who donate goods and services to help the event run smoothly. There are also wonderful volunteer opportunities to run the event. Art Club students, AP Art class students and parents come in to make it all happen. People can purchase a tile for $10.00 and then paint that tile. It becomes part of the permanent display of tiles in the high school. Someday we hope to have a mile installation, hence the name. There is also a silent auction, raffle and demos of various art techniques, which often includes a very popular clay wheel throwing demonstration. We do face-painting and also have a bake sale.
These are photos from this year's event. The event raised just shy of $2000.00, not bad for having fun on a cold, late winter Saturday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teaching Animation One of My Favorite Things

Teaching Animation class is one of my favorite things.  It is one of the few classes where I just get to say "yes" to my students and where they can do anything they can imagine.  I know that should be true in any art class, but the students who take Animation are so highly motivated and turned on that it sets the bar high.  I sometimes feel I learn so much from them.  It is sad that sometimes this class doesn't run due to low enrollment. The thing is, part of what makes it such a great class is the lower class size!  I can give a lot of individualized attention to all students and they can personalize their learning experience.  Today I'm going to post our first video here.  It's not fantastic, but still really magic when you see your marks take flight and start to move! 

More to come I'm sure...I have a really fun group this term. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Scholastic Art Awards Day at The Milwaukee Art Museum

Saturday, February 2, 2013 was the Awards Ceremony for the 2013 Scholastic Art Competition at the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, WI.  I always really enjoy being a part of this special day that not only pays tribute to the outstanding artistic talents of students in grades 7-12, but also salutes the art educators who teach the students and assist them with the process.

I always get a bit emotional when I see my students' work on display in the beautiful galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Not many adult artists can say that their work has been displayed at a major art museum, so for students to be able to add this accomplishment to their resume at such an early age is quite a tribute to their talents.

As an art educator this is always a tough time of year.  The semester just ended and the new one has just begun. AP Art is really in full swing with portfolios due in a few short months. It is extremely busy and crazy right now and so a day that helps me hit the pause button is good.  It is also very gratifying to be recognized for the excellence that I try to instill in my students.  I find this day a chance to explore new concepts, to questions what I do as an educator (in a reflective, good way) and to celebrate what I am passionate about.

A few years ago when I entered work again and again in this exhibit and got zero pieces accepted it felt like I wasn't good enough as an educator.  I also felt our program was too, small and couldn't compete with the big fish in town.  I didn't give up however; I got involved in artist-educator programs and groups such as MATA (The Milwaukee Area Teachers of Art) and NAEA (National Art Education Association) and of course my local chapter, WAEA (Wisconsin Art Education Association).  Through this involvement I met other educators and got the opportunity to see what others were doing.  I also joined online communities of educators through Pinterest, Art Ed2.0 Ning, Twitter and even Facebook.  All of these expanded my community and gave me lots of people to talk to and learn from. I also made changes to our curriculum at Pewaukee High School.  Creating more rigor and a higher expectation for students in the art department.  We also adding new courses that were more 21st century based, teaching students about Digital Photography, Animation and more.    A huge part of being an educator is to continue your own learning and to take risks.  

So Saturday celebrated the third time that PHS students have received awards for their works of art.  I have also seen the number of high quality AP portfolios increase and the number of scholarships my art students receive rise as well.  I love the Art Museum for hosting this event and helping shine the spotlight on the hard work of so many talented young adults and their teachers.  Thanks to them!  Make sure you go see the exhibit on display through mid-March.

Here is a slide show of some of the images from Saturday.  I apologize for not citing the names of the artists on the works I photographed.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Inspired Thoughts from Ken Vieth

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a conference by Ken Vieth and the Bureau of Education and Research entitled "Engaging Visual Projects For Enhancing Your Art Program".  What a great is often a disappointment to attend these workshops as the person speaking may not live up to the hype, but this was not the case.  Ken Vieth is a creative, funny and talented story teller who willingly shares his ideas and his failings to help others become better.  His passion for art education is contagious.

I had purchased Ken's book "From Ordinary to Extraordinary:  Art and Design Problem Solving" by Davis Publishing. I loved the book and the way it challenged and inspired brainstorming and creative problem solving.  Many of the projects therein could serve as stand-alones or you could use them as a creative jumping off point to dive into deeper waters.  Many of the ideas in that book inspired the newer Drawing and Painting 2 courses that my school now offers.  I utilized them to help with the curricular design.  This workshop promised that we would receive Mr. Vieth's latest book, "Engaging the Adolescent Mind Through Visual Problem Solving" and a hands-on art-making experience and a day filled with curricular specific ideas to enhance what you do.  A LOFTY AGENDA....but it was met.

The stories were told with humor and a feeling that the person talking has been in the trenches just like me.  Many of the ideas shared were great starting points for entire units.  I could envision ways to go beyond the hands on traditional studio arts and incorporate the ideas into the digital arts courses that I teach.  For example, Vieth shared a project he did with his students where they created black stenciled self-portraits that included their signature designed into the piece.  Students had to solve positive-negative space issues and also determine how to design the finished group piece, which were large floor to ceiling fabric panels created and installed in the schools media center to shade out the sun that blotted out the computer screens each day.  The combination of function and form was lovely.  I thought this project could become a lesson in Adobe Illustrator...taking the stenciled style self portraits and signatures and further extending them as an individual logo and self promotional piece.  I could see a whole line of business cards, letterhead and other design projects that could use that stencil portrait as the start.  My brain was whirling as I took notes jotting down my own ideas along with Ken's. 

That was really one of the points he made throughout....he was here to share and to empower us to go back and continue fighting the fight, but in even more creative ways. I felt validated for the job I was doing, but also challenged to get out of the comfort (rut) of repeating the same projects year after year and trying to change each year, making the experience unique and inspired each time for students and for me the Artist Educator.  I came back to my room the next day and immediately shone a bright light on my program and starting changing....the set up, the layout and the attitude. 

What a great workshop!  Thanks Ken for a fabulous day. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Francesca Woodman-Discovering A New-Old Powerful Female Voice in Photography

I subscribe to the weekend New York Times to keep up with the arts. I am often thrilled with the articles therein and this weekend was no exception as I read the article about Francesca Woodman, whom I'd never heard of before. Turns out she is now one of my favorite photographers.
I won't go into details about her tragic suicide. The article discusses her parents' role in fostering her career as an artist-photographer after her death. What intrigued me about her was the profound visual metaphors her work displays. She is constantly looking at herself or the idea of the self and often is hidden, distorted or vanishing in the picture frame. This intrigues me as so many of the teen age students I teach have these mixed feelings about who they are and what they look like and how they might interpret that.
I found this wikipedia article about Woodman and thought it was also very helpful and had links to many of her images. Here are just a few of the images I found amazing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Community Service and the Art Department

Late August is the time of year that educators start to reflect on how they will make an impact this year. How will it be different for their students? What can I do to make this the best year. A colleague I follow on Twitter, Matt Cauthron (@imagemonki)asked the question, anyone got any good service projects? It made me start thinking about the role of the Art Department in community service. To me community service is a great way to make an impact and make each year the best that students can remember. The arts in particular can take the lead on doing this by actively involving students in connections and service.

As the Visual Art Department Chair and director of Art Club at my school I believe very strongly in my role to connect to the school community and the greater Milwaukee Community. My students live somewhat sheltered lives out in the suburbs and I really want them to experience all that the rich and diverse community of Milwaukee has to offer. I used to be the Community Outreach and Education Director for the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee. The three years I spent there really taught me the importance of connecting in mutually beneficial ways. Community service and outreach should be good not just for the recipients, but also for the people providing the this case me and my students! It should be the proverbial "win-win" situation.

In the past Art Club has connected to the community on many levels. We started out small by doing projects in school. Just as in child development, baby steps requiring focusing on yourself first and then branching out to think of others. So we painted the gallery walls and created an entry-way mural for the school. Both projects were well received and benefited the art students since their work was hanging in the gallery on a regular basis. From there the art club grew from a few members to a strong core of 15-20 students who were very devoted to the idea of hanging out, making art and providing service to the community.

We were now ready to take on the world, or at least our little suburban world. We were asked to work on a project for River Hills Nursing Home to help them create a new room for their Alzheimer's wing. This project provided students with the opportunity to meet residents, see their work hung in a public place and see how profoundly happy a simple painting could make people. We developed a garden-themed mural and also helped with ideas on how to transform the drab room into a garden room. The Nursing Home staff painted the room a soothing sage green and added lattice work, a faux fence and a garden bench along with potted plants. They hosted a reception for my students, their parents and the principal of the school. We met with staff and saw residents as well. It was a very positive experience for all.

We have done other service including a community art making fund raiser called "Tile-A-Mile". This event was started three years ago because there was no scholarship money for Visual Art students at our school. We host an event yearly to raise funds for a scholarship, but it is also an art-making opportunity. Community members buy a tile and paint it for $10.00. At the event they also have the opportunity to get their faces painted, see artists demonstrate their craft (wheel throwing, jazz ensembles and foil embossing have been a few), and also bid on raffle and silent auction items donated by the community. This event is a lot of fun for the students of art club who do all the planning and run the various events. It connected me to their parents and in turn to other community members including local businesses. This positive experience for the sake of art is again another win-win community service idea. The tiles that participants create are framed and displayed throughout the school, with the goal of someday having "a mile of tiles". The community is given an opportunity to be entertained, fed and maybe even win a raffle item, while the students benefit by gaining scholarship funds and the experience of leadership opportunities.

Last year I didn't do as much community service. The Educator community was under attack in the state of Wisconsin where I live. It was hard to focus on anything other than keeping my job and hoping all the scary things being threatened didn't come true. We did manage to do some local service projects including decorations and murals for homecoming and winter ball. We also provided art work for a local business this past summer. Students helped mat the work and get it ready for display. The exhibit was part of a business mixer for local businesses to meet and mingle. The art work was a big hit and the business ended up giving us a donation for our scholarship fund.

This is one of the hidden values of Community Outreach and service. You raise the visibility of your program in the community. Businesses become aware of you and the students you serve. Another type of service is more of a partnership really. I developed a program where my students provided art work to 3 local businesses to display in their new office spaces. The businesses in turn made substantial donations to our scholarship fund. The students whose work was chosen to be displayed received a stipend. One of the businesses came back the next year and offered several of my students jobs at their site in a production/digital photography capacity. This never would have happened if we hadn't made the initial connection.

So this year try a bit of community service. Think beyond your classroom and connect with a local business or group that will benefit your program, your students and the community. So many valuable skills can be learned through service and outreach. Best of luck with back to school 2011!