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.