Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category


Tim Rollins

January 10, 2018

Inspired by literary classics

Mr. Rollins at the FLAG Art Foundation in Manhattan in 2016. Credit FLAG Art Foundation

Artist and educator Tim Rollins died on December 26 at age 62. Tim was born and raised in Pittsfield, Maine. He went to the University of Maine.

The Portland Museum of Art had an exhibit of his work and the work he did with students. At that time he was quoted by the Portland museum as saying that he learned a lot from watching women patch quilt panels together in his hometown of Pittsfield.

“We do everything through the power of ‘our,’ ” Rollins told the PMA. “That was the incubus for K.O.S. I said, ‘You know what? If you want to build a barn, you don’t study the theory and practice of barn building. You build a damn barn, and if the barn’s broken, what do you do? You fix it.’ I just took that homespun philosophy, and we created our own situation. Independent, libertarian. I got that from home.” (Portland Press Herald article, Dennis Hoey, December 28, 2017)

He and his K.O.S. students combined lessons in reading and writing with production of works of art. In a creative process that Rollins called “jammin,” he or one of his students would read aloud from assigned texts while everyone else drew or painted, relating the stories being read to their own life experiences.

Not only did he fulfill the following statement he wrote to his parents at age 5 but he was an amazing teacher for his students in the Bronx. “Dear Mom and Dad, when I grow up I’m going to be an artist, a teacher and a scientist. Don’t get in my way.”

From the New York Times

Mr. Rollins devoted almost all of his 35-year career to his unusual combination of art-making and teaching, and to the group, which exhibited as Tim Rollins + K.O.S. (Kids Of Survival)

The collective had its beginnings in 1981, when Mr. Rollins was working as a substitute teacher in New York City. He was invited by the principal of I.S. 52, a junior high school in the South Bronx — a devastated area at the time — to develop a special-education program for students with learning disabilities that would combine making art with improving reading and writing skills.

In a classroom with a barely functioning sink and broken windows boarded up with plywood, Mr. Rollins and his most interested students had begun to function as a workshop when they hit on the idea of using books for both inspiration and material. After a long period of study and sketching, they would distill a book’s narrative to a single motif and paint variations of that motif on a canvas collaged with the volume’s pages.

Read the entire article about Mr. Rollins and his work in the New York Times, January 8.

This video provides a historical picture of Mr. Rollins and the work he did working as a teacher and how he utilized stories, history, art and music in his teaching. Tim demonstrated good teaching techniques utilizing integration many years ago.  There is a video series on Tim Rollins and his work. This is part 1.


MALI Mega Conference Oxford Hills

January 5, 2018

Registration is open

Registration is open for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Mega Conference at Oxford Hills High School on Friday, March 23rd, 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m! Participants will select 3 workshops from an offering of 15. Not only will the workshops offer great learning opportunities but we all know how much we learn when visual and performing arts educators come together to learn. The networking is always a critical part of the MALI Mega Conferences.


  • 8:30 a.m. Registration begins
  • 9:00 a.m. Opening
  • 9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Breakout Session I
  • 10:30 a.m. – 10:40 a.m. Break
  • 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Breakout Session II
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Lunch, participants on their own
  • 12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Artist Showcase with Amanda Houteri, Celebration Barn
  • 1:50 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Breakout Session III
  • 3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Closing

Contact hours

5.5 contact hours will be provided to those participating in the full day of the MALI Mega-regional conference at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.



Bookmaking 101: summative assessment never looked so good!

Develop a creative book making project to assess your students’ authentic learning. Perfect for the end of a grading term, this idea can be tailored to suit the needs of you and your students. Impress your administrators with your ability to keep every student fully engaged in the assessment of their own work. Grades 7-12

Cindi Kugell Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Visual Arts

Rhythm & Counting

Rhythm!! Is this one of the elements of music that you spend a lot of time on in rehearsal? How are your kids at sight-reading? Have you ever fallen into the trap of singing the part for your students? Are you clapping rhythms in class and finding that it sounds more like applause? Intended for ensemble directors, this workshop will provide a new approach to many based upon a tried and true method of counting and verbalizing rhythmic patterns. Grades 7-12

Kyle Jordan Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Music

The Arts and Emotional Intelligence

Looking at ideas on emotional intelligence and leadership collected by Daniel Goleman we will identify the core elements of emotional intelligence and compare them with habits and skills practiced in the creative process. Be ready to create, journal and discuss ideas together on creativity, the arts and emotional intelligence. All grade levels and all content

Lindsay Pinchbeck Director of Sweet Tree Arts and founder of Sweetland School

Flexible Grouping Strategies for the General Music Classroom

It is the age of customized education and differentiated instruction. Chances are, your building administrators are looking for observable evidence of this in your teaching practice. Time constraints and scheduling difficulties can make customized learning a challenge to implement in the general music setting. In this workshop, we will discuss the benefits of flexible grouping strategies, and how to use them to your advantage. Grades PK-12 General Music 

Dorie Tripp Manchester and Readfield Elementary Schools, Music K-5

Tableaus of Courage: How to Help Students Engage with Complex Content through Theater

Ovations Offstage Director Catherine Anderson will introduce workshop participants to Ovations Dynamic School-Time Performance Series for 2018-19, and model for teachers how to help students engage with any story, or content (fictional or not) through the use of “tableau”. Tableau is a wordless theater activity for small groups of students that can be adapted for any age group. Participants will leave with a leasson plan with clear learning targets, and assessment criteria. All grade levels

Catherine Anderson Portland Ovations Offstage Director

SESSION II 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Choose One

Stars and Stairs

Stars and Stairs, Where am I now and Where am I going? How can the use of Stars and Stairs in your classroom help to inform you and your students of their learning progression and actively engage them in the learning process? This will be a round table discussion. Looking at your standards and your curriculum how can you use the Stars and Stairs model in your classroom.  All grade levels and all content

Samantha Armstrong Paris Elementary School and Agnes Gray School, Grade K-6, Visual Arts


Everyone seems to agree that we need more creativity in education, but just what is creativity, and how can we possibly teach it? This workshop will answer both those questions (gasp…) With one foot planted in neuroscience, and the other dangling in the depths of the subconscious, we will conduct transformative activities (visual arts based) designed to enhance the “brainsets” that contribute to creative states of mind. Grades 7-12

Phil Hammett Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Visual Arts

Improvisation Crusader: Improvisation as an Essential Musical Skill

Improvisation is commonly viewed as a specialty skill, and one that you either have or don’t. This presentation makes the case for improvisation as an essential skill, a naturally growth-minded learning tool, and an additional resource to address any number of Maine Learning Results, and to engage students and give them more ownership over their musical voice. This will be heavily participatory, exploring simple methods to more advanced, and using multiple musical languages/genres. All grade levels

Tom Luther Midcoast Music Academy, Piano, Digital Music, Music Composition Specialist, Teaching Artist, former Art Educator

Creativity and Taking Back the Classroom

Art can propel the next generation of leaders to make a personal connection to real world issues. In this workshop participants will explore strategies for helping young people forge a deep and personal connection between the environment and themselves. If our students are to have the courage to address the environmental challenges we face today, they must believe in the power of their ideas and know that they can create something tangible from them. Participants will make art that crosses subject matter boundaries and explore ways to design original curriculum that leads to action. Elementary and Middle Levels and Visual Arts

Nancy Harris Frohlich, Founder and Director, LEAPS of IMAGINATION

Integrating Curriculum: Making it Happen at the High School Level

Come join a conversation, share thoughts, and cultivate ideas regarding the challenge of integrated curriculum work at the highschool level. How can finding commonalities between subject areas motivate student learning, provide hands on experience with cross curricular connections, as well as benefit the educator as they become more proficient in the language of other disciplines? High School

Lori Spruce Brewer High School Visual Arts

SESSION III 1:50 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Choose One

Looking in the Mirror:  The Importance of Student Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a crucial part in the cycle of learning for both student and teacher.  With regular self-reflection integrated in your classroom, students will become more aware, dig deeper, and take ownership of their learning.  This applies to us as teachers.  We will also discuss the importance of documentation and strategies of reflection upon our own teaching.  Information gathered about student growth, understanding, and feedback on units/lessons will not only be beneficial for the development of a curriculum, but also in providing evidence for teacher evaluations.  All grade levels and all content

Mandi Mitchell Hermon High School Visual Arts

Bridging Adolescence: A River Runs Through Us – Composing our Story

This workshop documents the progression of a year-long chorus project in which 7th and 8th grade students composed lyrics and music for an original performance piece. The project developed a model of integrated arts programming, including extensive literacy integration through working with a guest poet-in-residence for several weeks. The project also tied in hands-on classwork, a field experience, a connection with a wider community project, video diaries, peer critique, and of course music composition and performance skills. The workshop will give participants a hand-on experience of our project, as well as tools to create their own. All grade levels

Brian Evans-Jones Poet and Teaching Artist and Kris Bisson Marshwood Middle School Music and Chorus

All Aboard for Arts Travel, Full STEAM Ahead!

Interested in transforming your school into a STEAM based model? This workshop will include the benefits of STEAM for students, some sample STEAM lessons, and a suggested action plan for incorporating a STEAM approach into your school. Upper Elementary

Jenni Null Songo Locks Elementary Music K-6 and District Fine Arts Coodinator and Linda McVety Songo Locks Elementary Music K-5


Teaching Aesthetics and Criticism: Approaches to Standard D

How do we teach aesthetics and criticism in our Visual and Performing Arts classes? How do teachers design learning  experiences for Maine Learning Results standard D? In this interactive workshop teachers will experience methods for teaching aesthetics and criticism in the 7-12 arts classroom.  Sample lessons that teach forms of artistic interpretation to students will be shared as well as methods for critique.  The workshop is geared toward supporting the teaching and assessment of Maine Learning Results standard D. During the second part of the workshop participants will be encouraged to share their own approaches.  Participants will leave with tools that they can immediately use in their classes. Grades 7-12, adaptable for all grade levels

Bronwyn Sale Bates College, former 7-12 Visual Arts teacher

Inspiring Environmental Stewardship Through the Visual Arts

This will be a fun and informative program with practical involvement by all. All participants will have ideas to take back to the classroom and hopefully a reinvigorated perspective on their teaching with a theater focus. All grade levels

Andrew Harris Lecturer and Chair of Theatre, USM Department of Theatre

MORE INFORMATION is located on the Maine Arts Commission website.

REGISTRATION has been set up through Eventbrite.

If you have any questions please email Argy Nestor at


Harvey Fite

January 4, 2018

Sculpture Park and Museum

In 1939 Harvey Fite, born in 1903 and died in 1976, started to create an outdoor space to display his sculptures. Thirty seven years later it was completed and somewhere along the way he realized that it was a work of art without any sculptures in it. Fite is a self taught artist who used dry keystone masonry without any mortar hand carving the components. It is called Opus 40 and is a 6.5 acre sculpture gallery in the middle of the outdoors located near Woodstock, NY. You can learn more about Fite and the sculpture park. The public is welcome, although it is not open year round.

I was reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers where Gladwell claims that it takes 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to become world-class in any field. Fite’s work is amazing – check out the video to see it up close without traveling there.

<p><a href=”″>Opus 40 Sculpture Park and Museum</a> from <a href=””>Joseph Cooper</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Arts Executive Director Position

January 3, 2018

Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire

The Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire has posted their Arts Executive Director position. To apply, email cover letter, resume and salary requirements to  Questions may be sent to the same email address.

For the job posting CLICK HERE

DEADLINE January 30, 2018


This position provides overall management, planning, vision and leadership as well as oversight of all aspects of AANNH, including programs and services, finances, resource development, human resources, member services and communications. The ED works with the Board to establish and implement policies and programs and is responsible to the Board for the day-to-day management of all aspects of the operation, in fulfillment of AANNH’s mission.


Provide leadership and work with the Board to develop and strengthen AANNH as a membership organization following its mission and strategic plan.
Oversee all finances and outreach of AANNH, leading staff and volunteers and supervising outside contracts and partnerships.
Develop, coordinate, implement, document and evaluate year-round cultural programming.
Develop and maintain relationships with partners, businesses and members and serve as the lead spokesperson for AANNH.
Position AANNH as a vital regional resource on cultural issues, ensuring a consistent, positive presence in the media while developing capacity to convene and collaborate with multiple stakeholders.


Creative, flexible, able to make connections and to think on your feet.
Interested in the big picture, yet willing to take care of the small details.
Experienced in nonprofit management, public relations, program development, education, volunteer coordination, grant-writing, financial management and fund-raising.
Energized by work on the creative economy, arts education, creative placemaking, arts and health and arts and nature.
A motivational speaker who believes in the core values of equity and access to arts and educational opportunities for all.
An articulate communicator with strong organizational skills and technology literacy and a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent (minimum 5 years in related field).
Seeking a full-time, year-round position in northern New Hampshire where you can make a difference in ensuring access and supporting the arts in local communities.


A lover of nature and the outdoors.
An artist or fervent supporter of the arts.
An advocate for rural communities with an understanding of their strengths and challenges.
Knowledgeable about northern NH and its cultural life and assets.


The Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire (AANNH) was incorporated 30 years ago as an unstaffed co-marketing organization for a group of professional arts presenters in the northern half of the state. In the mid-1990s the mission expanded to embrace the promotion of arts experiences for all residents and visitors to the region, and in 2000 AANNH hired staff and grew to include direct programming, with a strong focus on arts learning.

We are proud of what we’ve accomplished, but know that there is a great deal more to be done, especially in the areas of technology, social media, brand development and capacity building.


AANNH is a membership organization that aims to infuse culture into every aspect of life in the region and to support the cultural needs of schools, arts and heritage organizations, artists, businesses, nonprofits, government and social-service agencies and individuals of all ages. All this work depends on partnerships.


• A monthly e-bulletin highlighting the programs offered by members around the region.

• Regional performing arts residencies — many of them with an emphasis on world cultures — using block-booking to bring outstanding artists to schools, out-of-school programs, senior centers, nursing homes, and community arts venues.

• Arts & Environment programs, including the annual White Mountain National Forest Artist Residency.

• Professional development programs, including our annual Write Now! conference and our Arts in Inclusive Learning series, in partnership with VSA NH, focusing on Universal Design for Learning.

• Arts & Health programs, including Experience/Arts programs for older adults, a partnership with Grafton County Senior Citizens Council.

• Consultation and collaboration on the development of Creative Economy, cultural tourism, community development and youth arts initiatives.

• Partnering on statewide efforts, including the NH Arts Learning Network, NH Creative Communities Network and the NH State Council on the Arts’ annual Education Partnership conference.




18 Dresses for 2018

January 2, 2018

Happy New Year

I hope that your holiday was wonderful and that your 2018 is off to a great start. Some people reflect at this time of year – looking back and considering the past year and some people look ahead and consider what changes or resolutions might be put into action. Starting a new year can be exciting!

Me? I do a little of both – professionally and personally. On the personal level, the last three days of 2017, I sewed 18 dresses to send to Malawi. Many of the Maine Arts Education blog readers know that I traveled to Malawi with Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of Sweet Trees Arts and Sweetland School in Hope. In July of 2016 we provided professional development for teachers in arts integration Mpamila Village as part of the Go! Malawi program.

Last summer I met a woman while walking to the Ogunquit Museum of Art who told me about her volunteer work with Dress a Girl Around the World. Not to long after that she sent us dresses to send to Malawi in 2017. Since September we have been meeting monthly at Sweet Tree Arts and are making more dresses for the girls in the school. In addition we will be making shorts for the boys.

When I considered how to start the new year off I decided to create something and I thought why not spend the end of the year sewing dresses – 18 to mark the new year?! In addition to creating I had plenty of time to think about the last year – where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

We have almost 75 dresses completed, including the 13 that students at Sweetland School are making. We’ll start the shorts later this month. If you are interested in helping, here are some suggestions:

  • If you live close by Hope, join us for sewing monthly
  • If you have small stuffed animals, like Beanie Babies that you no longer want (and they are in great condition), let me know since each dress and shorts will have one in a pocket
  • If you’d like to make a donation of undershirts or underpants, each one will have those as well included for the children.

Today, we just received donations of Beanie Babies – 74 in total. (see photos). Please let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like to help!

In addition, we are looking for teachers who’d like to travel to Malawi in July to continue the teacher workshops. More information is on the Go! Malawi site about the program. Please contact me at and I’d be glad to email you an application.

Do you have any plans to create in 2018?


74 Beanie Babies – 76 more needed


Ovations Offstage

December 20, 2017

Cool stuff happening for Maine kids

I had the pleasure recently of meeting with Catherine Anderson, Ovations Offstage director at Portland Ovations. Portland Ovations is one of the Maine Arts Commission’s recipients of the Arts Learning grant for the 2017-18 school year. The programming that Ovations Offstage has in place for learners is engaging, thought provoking, and creative. It is clear that Catherine is always thinking, planning, and considering ideas that will ‘light kids up’ to learning. Catherine came to Ovations three years ago after teaching Language Arts at King Middle School for 14 years. She is energetic and clearly focuses on what is best for learning and the learner. Thanks to Catherine for providing the information and images below that paints a picture of the opportunities that took place earlier this school year.

Ovations Offstage’s Cultivating Curiosity: Story to Stage programming incorporated arts integration built around the theatrical presentation of childhood literary classics (“Guess How Much I Love You” & “I Love My Little Storybook”) to promote early passion and understanding for the performing arts and pre/early literacy skills earlier this fall. The project supported these goals through professional development for early childhood educators in the summer, in-class pre-performance workshops with several area schools and post-performance workshops with the performing artists and their magical puppets from Nova Scotia. 

Mushroom man – professional developme

The programming began with a delightful group of eager-to-play early childhood educators coming together to learn how to turn any story into a play in any classroom with even the most limited resources. We were particularly inspired by their willingness to look at stories they might be very familiar with in a completely new way.  Visiting  the classroom is always a thrill for our teaching artists. This fall’s visits to Kaler Elementary in South Portland, and the kindergarteners in North Yarmouth was no exception. Students pre-and post-assessment activities showed a rather sophisticated understanding of the similarities between an actor and character in a story!

Professional development for educators

We were very proud of our ability to place a hard copy of the book “Guess How Much I Love You” in the hands of all of the students who attended the play. Building a home library, and having an anchor-text for an entire class is so important to early literacy acquisition.  What was most challenging for us was the fact that even with the finding in place to provide the books to students we still had empty seats in the Merill Auditorium. The thought that there were many young people out there who could not attend because their teachers or administrators did not have access to transportation, or the subsidized tickets is always hard for us to accept.

Our future dreams are to provide at least three to four offerings like this with books for a full house of students from across the state and  a gaggle of teaching artists on board ready to work with any classroom ready and willing to turn their own stories into a play!


Another Student’s Story: Gage Shackley

December 18, 2017

Gage Shackley, Hermon High School

Periodically individuals are featured on the Maine Arts Education blog as part of a series called “Another Student’s Story”. Their “Arts” stories are shared with you. Please share these stories with others. If you know of a student who should be sharing their story, please contact me at and they will be considered for a feature on the Maine Arts Education blog.

Thanks to Mandi Mitchell, visual art teacher, at Hermon High School and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader, for introducing me to Gage Shackley and his art. I was memorized as I looked at his drawing books – several of them, filled with amazing drawings!

My name is Gage Shackley and I am 18. I am a senior In Hermon High School and I live in Hermon, Maine.
What value do you see in taking visual arts courses?
Visual Arts has made me determined to become a better artist. And with the help of my teacher, I believe I have achieved just that.
Name three skills, ideas, or life-long tools that you have learned in your art courses?
I have definitely been pushed toward learning how to take constructive-criticism, although I’m still not a big fan of it. I have also learned that art is a very difficult profession to be great at, so I believe that I try my best to accomplish that. Last is definitely the internet, with it I can always stay in touch with people who I know will always help me with anything and that includes my art.

Han Solo, created using Wacom-like tablet on Photoshop

What is your favorite part of the art course you are presently taking? What are you most proud of?

I am in an Independent Study. I like that I am free to draw just about anything, JUST about. I have been recently trying to draw “models” from life and that’s putting it lightly. I am proud of all of my art including that. I just don’t like the fact of censorship. So, that’s what I’m proud of.
Does anyone encourage and/or support you with your art making?
Yes, just about everyone I know supports me and my art. There isn’t just one person, and I am definitely thankful for that.
Complete the sentence, I enjoy my art classes because…
… I enjoy drawing.
Do your studies in art impact other class work or your life outside of school? If so, in what way(s)?
Not really, in the first place I don’t ever have homework, art is my homework. Sometimes the people around me ask for commissions for me and I happily oblige, because you know, money.
What art teacher Mandi Mitchell says about Gage:
I have found that one of Gage’s greatest strengths is how incredibly observant he is.  His ability to capture personality, body language, and characteristics of someone within perhaps five minutes of meeting and interacting with them is quite a gift.

Thank you Father, created using Wacom-like tablet on Photoshop

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