Posts Tagged With: Teaching Art Together

Berea artist brings diversity and color to Frankfort classrooms and hallways

Walking through the halls of Frankfort High School (FHS) these days, you might notice things look a little different. That’s because, with the help of teaching artist Alfredo Escobar, students in Spanish and art classes at FHS recently designed and painted a tradition-inspired mural on the once drab walls outside the school’s cafeteria.

The mural, completed in early February, was the culminating project of a two-week artist residency with Berea graphic and fine artist, Alfredo Escobar, a teaching artist in the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artists Directory. FHS and Escobar partnered to create the mural through a 2013 Teaching Art Together grant from the arts council. The painting is made up of images that uniquely represent the school and the community of students’ within it. The mural was inspired by Escobar’s work “Mi Vida,” an acrylic piece that depicts the artist’s life from childhood to adulthood. Escobar worked with multiple classes over the two-week period to brainstorm concepts and incorporate those ideas into the mural design.

“I never tell the students exactly what they should paint; I lead them into their own decision-making process through which they choose their own content, spatial organization and color scheme,” said Escobar. “The emphasis of this project is not on the realism of the final product; rather, it is on the students’ expression of themselves and what is relevant to their lives.”

The full-time artist completes residencies much like the one at FHS with students and schools across the state. Using his own career and creative process as an example, Escobar strives to teach students how to creatively express themselves, whether through art, writing or other career paths. Parents, teachers and fellow students were invited to view the finished product.

The Teaching Art Together grant allows teachers to collaborate with practicing, professional artists on the design and implementation of residencies like Escobar’s. Ranging from one to four weeks, the residencies provide teachers with the tools to continue to incorporate the arts into the curriculum long after the artist is gone. In Frankfort High’s case, Escobar’s residency has allowed teachers to incorporate more art concepts into Spanish classes because the students have a better understanding of the steps and processes involved.

“The mural project was a great way to bring our student body together and give them something to be proud of,” said Tabatha Doyle, one of the teachers involved in bringing Escobar to the school. “The students take great pride in their work and our mural has motivated them to continue art projects throughout the entire school.”

Schools and teachers may apply for the next round of Teaching Art Together grants until April 15.

Alex Newby, program assistant

Categories: Arts Education | Tags: , , , , , ,

“Fitting” a residency into your classroom

One of the programs that the Kentucky Arts Council is most proud of are our Teaching Art Together grants, which provide assistance for Kentucky schools to bring teaching artists into their classrooms. These grants provide students with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience the creative process alongside a professional artist trained in the Kentucky and national education standards.

Even so, we often have a hard time “selling” this opportunity to schools and teachers due to misconceptions about the nature of a residency. Classroom time is tight, and it gets tighter every year. So, the most frequent concern we hear about having residency is, “I don’t have a even a couple of hours – let alone a week or more – to give up to a residency if I’m going to get through all of my content this year.”

We understand! That’s why we insist that residencies complement classroom content. Residencies are a school or teacher’s chance to bring in a new voice to teach content through the arts. It’s also a way for teachers to learn new methods and techniques in these subject areas to use in the future. Take, for instance, this example from Tichenor Middle School in Erlanger.

Tichenor was awarded the Teaching Art Together grant in the 2012-2013 school year. Fiber artist, Pat Sturtzel, partnered with art teacher, Scott Fairchild, to add a fiber arts component to the Tichenor Middle School art curriculum. Pat facilitated a series of fiber arts projects that built each previous activity while also reinforcing art concepts, cultural connections and math and science concepts. Over a seven-week period, Pat worked with four core classes and provided four hours of professional development to the rest of the faculty and staff.

Mr. Fairchild and students learned surface design techniques (fabric dyeing, fabric printing, stitched embellishment) and textile construction techniques (construction of pillows, wall-hangings), each linked to various cultures (African, Southeast Asian, Japanese, Euro-American).  The residency enhanced the arts curriculum at Tichenor by giving students the opportunity to work directly with a professional artist. This firsthand experience gave students knowledge about how a professional artist works within their chosen field.  Interaction with the artist, visualizing her techniques and then being encouraged to explore their own interpretation of the creative process, enabled the students to engage in activities outside their daily instruction.

Another way the residency enhanced the arts curriculum was through the introduction of a new art medium (to both the school art teacher and students).  Mr. Fairchild had little experience working in this particular medium.  The visiting artist worked to provide the school art teacher with an authentic experience to expand his knowledge and skills.

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“During the residency I was excited to see the students work and learn with Mrs. Sturtzel. The students were up for the challenge of working in a new art process and came away with quality art projects and a basic understanding of what all goes into fiber arts.” One project the 8th grade students made were hand-dyed backpacks with a personal printed design. The 7th grade created throw pillows. The final group project consisted of a dozen 8-foot banners displaying various techniques and a mystical-themed appliqué project.

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Since the residency, Mr. Fairchild has taken what he learned and taught several lessons in fiber arts including, a pennant project, dying and printing projects, and a class quilt.  “From this residency, I am still learning and being challenged.  I remember calling Mrs. Stutzel saying, ‘You’ll never guess where I am at…  Joann’s Fabric!’  Remaining in contact with Mrs. Sturtzel and expanding the concepts of embroidery, fabric dying and screen printing, to other projects, has made a valuable addition to my art program at Tichenor. “

Artist residencies do not “take up” valuable classroom time. Artist residencies are the proverbial “stitch in time” that saves nine. Inviting an artist into your school and classroom is an enriching experience for students and teachers. Each will learn a better way of understanding the world around them and exploring the human experience – these two behaviors being the essence of education.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

The Teaching Art Together grant application is open now with a deadline of Oct. 15, 2013 to develop a residency plan to take place between January and June 2014.

Categories: Arts Education, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Back to School

It’s back to school. Right now, across the Commonwealth, there are children dreading the thought of another full academic year. They are lying in bed, reflecting on their carefree summer full of ice cream, blue swimming pools, barbecues and theme-park vacations—lamenting that it is the last night of the sweetest time of year. New shoes and a new backpack are little consolation for all the anguish they will meet in the morning.

I was not one of those kids.

Although I wasn’t much for waking up early, I loved going back to school. All summer I tried to anticipate what we would be learning the next year. I tried to skip ahead and get a leg up on the other kids. I was thrilled when they implemented summer reading programs, because I had some direction. Summer was hot, I was bad at sports and we went to historic sites for vacation. I was ready to go back.

I know there are some of you just like me. You might have played it off in front of your friends and joined the “school is whack” rallying cry. But deep inside, you really liked your teacher, the classroom and all the new things you would learn. Well, this is for you!

The Kentucky Arts Council is going back to school too. We have implemented some new programs and made positive changes to existing programs for the 2012 – 2013 school year. Check out these opportunities for districts, schools, classrooms, teachers and (above all) students

  • SWAT (Specialists with Arts Tactics) Team: consultancies for schools and districts with specialists trained in the Program Review for Arts and Humanities. Fee is paid by the arts council.
  • Teaching Art Together (formerly Teacher Initiated Program grants): grant enabling teachers to collaborate with teaching artists to design authentic arts experiences for students across the curriculum.
  • TranspARTation: funding to support field trips to designated museums, performance venues and arts centers.
  • Poetry Out Loud: a national poetry recitation competition through the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

We have brochures available upon request!

If you are a teacher: what are you waiting for? The best days—for kids of all opinions about school—were the days where something different happened.  If you are parent, tell your kids’ teachers and school administrators about these opportunities. More importantly, let them know that you want art in your students’ education. If you’re a teaching artist: good luck and good year.  If you’re a student: it’s only about nine more months until summer comes back around.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Education | Tags: , , , , , ,

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