Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category


Data Visualization

November 28, 2016

And visual communication

Two woman, Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, met each other and within a short time decided to start a collaborative project. Georgia is from New York and Stefanie from London. They were struck by how many similarities they shared, both personal and work. They challenged themselves to get to know each other better and they did this using data. Each week they sent each other a postcard filled with information. They told stories and in doing so learned about each other. They call their project Dear Data and after a year they became very good friends.


image from the website

In their own words: “This was a project where we put all of ourselves as human beings and designers into this radical experimentation: approaching the data we collected from as snapshots of our days and lives, and sketching our personalities for the other person to discover with the most contemporary material, data.

They put the 104 post cards into a book and they’ve received awards and recognition beyond their wildest dreams. And, in early November Dear Data has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for their permanent collection.

Read more about this fantastic idea by CLICKING HERE.


Yarmouth High School

November 26, 2016

Teaching Artist and Art Teacher collaborate

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-23-12-pmFor two weeks this month, Tim Christensen was a visiting artist in Holly Houston’s high school visual art classes at Yarmouth High School. In Advanced Placement Art (AP), Advanced Drawing and Painting (ADP), Ceramics I, and Art Fundamentals, Tim and Holly have led the students through a project documenting the systems around endangered United States animals, from beluga whales to ocelots, from Key deer to orcas. As well, most days after hours, the art room has been open to students from the entire school to come learn to work on the potter’s wheel independently, creating a busy and vibrant creative space where students could start to find new uses for their creative voice.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-23-28-pmThree approaches were used with the art classes. AP and ADP worked with8x8 clay slabs, creating a visual design capable of communicating the facts and challenges discovered during their research into their animal. These designs were etched onto black slip on white porcelain, using the sgraffito method, a 6000 year old practice traditionally used to create culturally vital historical documents in a visual way.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-23-48-pmSimilarly, Art Fundamentals created hollow bodied sculptures of their organism, and covered their sculpture with their interpretation of vital biological system data related to their animal.

Ceramics I concentrated on the wheel, producing numerous vessels on which to scribe their interpretations of the data, paying attention to form and line, and the technical intricacies of wheel thrown pottery.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-30-41-pmCombining the challenges of working with clay and sgraffito with a subject of personal interest and relevancy fosters an investment in the work, and allows students to overcome big challenges, finding multiple correct ways of communicating and creating. Students assisted in defining the assessable goals of the project, and have been able to gauge their progress through formative self-assessment by understanding the proficiencies they must demonstrate in the execution of the project. How they show those proficiencies is up to them.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-30-59-pmWhen Holly and Tim work together in the classroom, they communicate beforehand about the tasks that will be demonstrated and skills introduced for each class session, and share observations or areas of concern or elation for each incoming group of artists. During the session, they address issues and answer questions, provide encouragement or demonstrate techniques, often referring the other to students in need of a little extra attention. As a team, they are able to bring a broad range of experiences and skills to bear, and the students benefit from having multiple perspectives on the challenges they are tasked with meeting.

Holly and Tim met in person or communicated online numerous times over 6 months before the residency began, working together to secure funding, align project goals, schedule both the residency and the flow of each project, and to brainstorm the nuts and bolts of each challenge.



This project was funded by the Yarmouth Education Foundation. All photos by Holly Houston. Tim is a member of the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) teaching artists roster located by CLICKING HERE and available for hire.

Thanks to Tim for providing this information for the blog post.


MALI Mega Ellsworth

November 22, 2016

Wonderful learning

img_4488The first Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Regional conference took place yesterday at Ellsworth High School. The participants were appreciative of the opportunity, not just to attend and learn in the formal sessions, but to have the chance to network with other arts educators.

Each participant attended two sessions in the morning from the following selection:

  • img_4412

    Illustrating to Write session

    Where are your Art Standards within the Studio Habits of Mind! with Jane Snider, Hancock Grammar School

  • Ellsworth High School VPA Academy  with Rebecca Wright, Leah Olson, Shannon Westphal, Ellsworth High School
  • More Cowbell with Tim Hart, MLTI
  • Illustrating to Write with Ann Marie Quirion Hutton, MLTI
  • Bringing it All Together with Sue Barre, Waterville High School
  • img_4439

    Evidence of Learning Through Google

    Evidence of Learning Through Google with Charlie Johnson, Mount Desert Island High School

  • Visual Notetaking/Doodling in Class with Ann Marie Quirion Hutton, MLTI
  • Making 8-bit Art with Tim Hart, MLTI


A great big thanks to all of the MALI Teacher Leaders and MLTI session presenters. Without your willingness, commitment, and leadership we wouldn’t be able to have the Mega conferences.

Thank you to the Ellsworth High School VPA boosters club who provided lunch – it was all mmmmmmm!

Director of the Maine Arts Commission Julie Richard joined us in the afternoon. Teaching artist and dancer Nancy Salmon led us movement that got us ready for the afternoon. Beth Lambert from the Maine Department of Education  joined me in providing foundational information on the statewide arts education census that was conducted during the 2015-16 school year.

The day ended with some great door prizes. Thanks to those who contributed. The next MALI Mega Regional conference takes place on Wednesday, January 4 at USM, Portland. Please CLICK HERE for information and registration.


MAC Executive Director Julie Richard

Teaching Artist and dancer Nancy Salmon

Teaching Artist and dancer Nancy Salmon

Participants moving with Nancy Salmon

Participants moving with Nancy Salmon

Ellsworth High School art teachers sharing a funny moment

Ellsworth High School art teachers sharing a funny moment

Participants at lunchtime

Participants at lunchtime

Sue Barre presenting Bringing it all Together, her assessment system

Sue Barre presenting Bringing it all Together, her assessment system

Participants sharing lunchtime

Participants at lunchtime

Discussing the census information

Discussing the census information

More Cowbell session

More Cowbell session



Big Fun Friday

November 21, 2016

What a day!

I had the pleasure of participating in three very different events last Friday. The STEM Summit, the 3-day reading of Moby Dick, and an amazing dance performance at Thornton Academy.


screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-9-04-05-pmMy morning started at Colby College at the STEM Summit “Building Bridges: Developing Partnerships to Build Capacity for STEM Education in Maine”. I was a member of a panel including Lindsey Pinchbeck, SweetTree Arts; Brett Elwell, EverFi; Hannah Walden, Maine Central Institute; Kate Cook Whitt, Thomas College; and Eva Szillery, Maine Mathematics Science and Engineering Talent Search. The session was called “Addressing STEM From Differing Perspectives for Students” and below is the description. I had the chance to share some of the amazing Maine arts educators work happening in STEAM in Maine!!

Designing engaging STEM learning experiences cannot be done through one-size-fits all approaches. This panel showcases the wide variety of ways learners can access STEM, through the arts, sports, coding, and others. Learn about the opportunities that are available to Maine’s teachers and how you can participate in these innovative approaches to STEM learning and teaching.

Irwin Gratz

Irwin Gratz


From there I headed south to the Portland Museum of Art to participate in the three-day non-stop reading of the classic Moby Dick. It was fun and a fairly intense experience. We had to read from the book that they provided. For those of you who have read the book the language can be challenging and the sentences a mile long. It has been some time since I read to my own sons or my middle school students so reading out loud felt like a new experience. By the end my eyes were bouncing!

Interestingly enough, from PBS radio, Irwin Gratz read not to long before my scheduled 10 minutes. And, not long after me Julie Richard read. What I loved most but wasn’t able to appreciate it (since I was looking down to follow along in the book) was behind the reader on the large screen were rotating images of a graphic novel of Moby Dick.


img_4394My last stop of the day was at Thornton Academy in Saco for the Fall Into Dance concert. Participating schools: Thornton Academy, Berwick Academy, Studio for the Living Arts, Collective Motion, Community Dance Project, New England Dance Project. Last years performance raised $2,650 and the funding was awarded to MSAD #33 for a dance education residency which will take place in two weeks. I was stunned when I read on the giant check the amount of $3575.00. Look for the information in the future and begin conversations with your colleagues about possibilities of having a teaching artist at your school next school year.


Announcing the amount of $3575.00 being given to the Maine Arts Commission to disperse as a dance education grant.



Marshwood Education Foundation

November 17, 2016

Awarding funds

Congratulations to the Marshwood Education Foundation for funding two projects recently that will benefit learners in their communities. Thanks to the foundation members for their commitment to education and for providing the funds to make the following two opportunities possible.


Brian is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster and attended the MALI Summer Institute

The first $3380 grant was awarded to Central School 2nd Grade teacher Pam Mulcahey and parent Brian Evan-Jones for “Literacy Through Poetry” and will fund an artist-in-residence program to support 2nd graders in poetry writing. In addition, the residency will support a Creative Writing Group for any 1st – 3rd grade students, along with mentors from Marshwood High School. The residency program will work with 2nd grade students and teachers to help build student confidence and writing skills and improve teacher instruction. Each student will have 1 poem that will be published and printed by Chapbooks. A Student-Parent writing event will also be organized to give students and parents the opportunity to write a poem together. The creation of a magazine will also provide students with another opportunity for publication.

Brian Evans Jones is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster at The artists on the roster have demonstrated mastery of an artistic discipline, knowledge and expertise in sequential arts instruction, good communication skills, planning and organizational ability, and an understanding of their target learners. The Maine Arts Commission maintains the roster as a service to artists interested in teaching in Pk-12 school settings and community organizations as well as schools looking for artists to provide residency’s for students.

eliot-mefThe second grant, in the amount of $5100, was awarded to Diane Reppucci at Eliot Elementary to fund “Local Stories”, an integrated arts project that combines local history, research and community collaboration to create a mural that documents and preserves the stories of Eliot. 2 artists-in-residence from “Local Stories” will work with all 2nd grade students to help them conduct interviews, research and investigations to create a school mobile mural and a live theater performance.


Creativity and Collaborations

November 16, 2016

Three types

From Fast Company, written by Jeff Goins from Nashville, Tennessee and located at this link. He is the author of the national best seller The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffGoins.

The Three Types of Relationship Every Creative Person Needs

Forget “solitary genius,” says author Jeff Goins. Creativity needs fuel from three types of collaborative interaction.

“My only anxiety,” a young Vincent van Gogh wrote in desperation, “is how can I be of use in the world?”

From the despair of a failed missionary outpost, he was pleading for direction from his older brother Theo, the person he always went to with his problems. Once again at his wit’s end and on the verge of failure, Van Gogh was struggling to make sense of his life.

We believe success is mostly a meritocracy. It isn’t. Who you know matters, and without the right connections, even the best work won’t get noticed.

Vincent’s parents, along with just about everyone else in his life, were wondering when he was going to make something of himself. He may have been wondering that, too. And here was Theo, writing back and enclosing some money—bailing him out once again.

What happened next changed the history of art. The young Van Gogh didn’t quit. Starting with drawing, then moving to painting, Vincent dedicated the next decade of his life to art. From roughly this point forward, he pushed forward at an incredible pace, averaging at least a painting a day, churning out thousands of artworks—a lifetime’s worth of achievements in a fraction of the time. And he did it with the support of his brother.

Contrary to popular belief, Vincent van Gogh did sell more than a single painting in his lifetime. He just sold most of them to Theo, his de facto patron. Their partnership made the spread of Vincent’s work possible. Sure, Theo was his brother, but, more important, he was a well-connected art dealer who believed in a promising painter.

One thing many of us tend to forget today is that we don’t often get a Vincent van Gogh without a Theo van Gogh.

It was Theo who prompted Vincent to move to Paris and introduced him to a group of misfit painters called “Impressionists.” And it was Theo who supported his brother’s work when no one else understood it, along with Theo’s wife Johanna, who would champion it long after both Van Gogh brothers were dead and gone.

We all want to believe that if our work is good enough, we’ll be recognized for our creative genius. Whether as artists, entrepreneurs, or employees, we believe success is mostly a meritocracy. It isn’t. Who you know matters, and without the right connections, even the best work won’t get noticed.

But this isn’t just about the importance of networking—it goes straight to the heart of the creative process. We’re often led to believe that creative minds toil alone in a cabin in the woods or stuffed away in some laboratory, too busy to be bothered.

“You might wonder,” creativity expert Keith Sawyer wrote in his book Group Genius, “Isn’t the individual mind the ultimate source of creativity? Doesn’t each creative spark come from a single person?”

Not exactly, says Sawyer. Creativity is always the result of collaboration, whether it’s intentional or not. In my study of successful creatives today, I’ve identified three kinds of collaboration that every creative person needs in order for their work to succeed and influence others.

Where we live and do our work matters. We understand intuitively that some places have greater concentrations of a certain kind of person than others. A huge number of musicians move to my hometown, Nashville, every year in hopes of making it big in the music industry. Same goes for actors moving to Hollywood and artists relocating to Brooklyn.

The work of urban studies theorist Richard Florida underscores this phenomenon. “The most important factor in the success of your career,” he tells me, “is where you decide to live.” According to Florida, who has indexed the most creative cities in America and regularly measures where the “creative classes” call home, not all places are created equal.

Each locale has a personality that can be instrumental in the success or failure of a person’s work; you need to find the right fit for what you do. Certain scenes can be hotbeds for certain kinds of creative output, as Silicon Valley is for computer programmers or 1850s Paris was for visual artists.

The scenes we join (or fail to) unavoidably affect the success of our work. And sometimes the best career move is to physically move. Go someplace where something’s happening that relates to your creative passion, even if you do that on a small scale at first—like by attending a conference or even just moving across the room to engage in a scene that’s already taking place.’2. A NETWORK


Everyone needs a network, and creatives are no exception to this rule. In fact, the “it’s who you know” rule seems to apply even more so to artists. Since art—or any creative craft, really—is inherently subjective, the opinions of a handful of important people can be hugely important.

“You really only need one or two good friends, because it’s really about having someone who’s going to advocate for you. That’s the formula for success.”

“You really only need one or two good friends,” New York–based artist Hank Willis Thomas told me, “because it’s really about having someone who’s going to advocate for you. That’s the formula for success.”

What is a network, exactly, and how is building one different from joining a scene? A network is a little bit looser and more relational—it’s an informal group of people who come together for the purpose of connecting with each other. Networks tend to stretch beyond the borders of a given scene; members may not all know one another personally, but they’re each influential to the success of the network itself.

Networks don’t just happen, though. You often have to look for them, making use of the people already around you, and constantly curating your relationships in hopes of strengthening the network. Success doesn’t take an army, but it does take a small group of people who can help your work get the attention it deserves.

This isn’t about getting your big break, though; it’s just about being good enough to make it and knowing the right people who can help you get there. Every thriving artist understands the power of networks, whereas every starving artist continues to try and make it on their own.

“There was a group of them, 19 men, and they got together once or twice a week for about 17 years. And in those meetings there was a special kind of magic that happened,” Diana Glyer, author and English professor at Azusa Pacific University, explained to me recently. Glyer is an expert on the literary group known as the Inklings, which included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others.

“They read their works-in-progress to one another, and they stayed up late into the night giving each other critiques,” Glyer says. “And it is in this forge of friendship and engagement that some of the great works that we love were created”—including The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.

These works, Glyer has found, didn’t result from any single act of genius, but rather creative collaboration—and of a very specific kind. The Inklings got together to collaborate intentionally, spurring each other on and even challenging one another to do better.

We all need groups of people not just to connect with, but with whom we can share our work—people Glyer calls “resonators,” those who affirm when you’re on the right track and guide you back when you’re not. This type of collaborative interaction is arguably the hardest to secure. It’s more deliberate and tighter-knit than either a scene or a network, but it’s no less crucial. And we often build creative communities out of people we meet in those other two.

Without a community, our best work will stay stuck inside us. We need peer groups and circles of influence to make our work better. This is true in art, but it’s also true in business. Any work that requires you to make something the world hasn’t seen before is work that often has to be done collaboratively.

This is ultimately good news. If you have a powerful idea, you aren’t solely on the hook for pulling it off all by yourself. If you’re feeling stuck, it may be that your creativity simply needs fuel and support from your relationships. It might be time to stop trying to force the creative process and instead start going out there and interacting with people—locating the right scene, growing your network, and building a community.

When you’re hitting a wall creatively, ask yourself:
Am I part of a powerful scene that connects me to others who can help me grow and succeed?
Have I established lasting connections with people who can help me and whom I can help?
Is there a group that I meet with regularly that challenges me and calls out the best in me?
This is how great creative work gets made—not in isolation, but through everyday collaboration. It was true for Vincent van Gogh, and it’s true for us today.


MALI Mega USM, Registration Open

November 15, 2016

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI)

REGISTRATION is NOW OPEN for the MALI Mega USM. During this school year there are six Mega Conferences planned. All the information is located on the Maine Arts Commission website at Or click on the Mega (underlined) below for information specific to each location.

Dates and Locations

mali_h_color_100ppiEach site will have different sessions offered so you may wish to attend more than one Mega. Sessions will be provided by MALI Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. In addition, almost all sites will have technology offerings offered by MLTI Apple staff. A portion of the afternoon will feature a Teaching Artist and information on the statewide arts education census that was conducted during the 2015-16 school year. The report will be officially released in December.

The cost to attend each Mega is $25 (unless otherwise indicated). Contact hours for full participation – 5.5 contact hours. The Megas provide multiple opportunities for the Maine Arts education community to engage in professional development specific to come together to deepen our knowledge, make connections, and learn from each other!



The Role of the Digital Portfolio in Arts Advocacy, Assessment, and Student Ownership Learning

Introduction to the digital portfolio. How to implement student centered digital portfolios that promote student ownership of learning and assessment. Grades 7-12

Jackie Bousquet Traip Academy Visual Art


“Making Art History Come to Life with iBooks Author”

 Dive into iBooks Author to harness the power of developing multi-modal, Multi-Touch iBooks. You’ll learn features which make iBooks come to life for learners by incorporating audio files, 3D widgets, image glossaries, study cards, jailbreaking templates, and much more. Be prepared to create an art history chapter together. You can also use this app for making comics and graphic novels or creating art portfolios. This session is great for MLTI beginners and experts. MLTI MacBooks with iBooks Author preinstalled is encouraged. Grades 7-12
Lindsey Carnes MLTI Apple Learning Specialist

Student’s Reflective Voice: Using the Artist Statement

This workshop, participants will explore the ways in which student voice and understanding within visual art creation can be expanded upon with the use of reflective writing using an Artist Statement. Grades 7-12

Melanie Crowe Marshwood Middle School, Grades 6-8 Visual Art


Assessing Singing in the Primary Grades

This workshop offers methodical strategies for assessing young children’s singing. Assessment logistics and tried and trusted rubrics will be provided as examples, along with ideas for formative assessment including self assessment. Grades K-4

Patti Gordan Raymond Elementary School, Grade K-4 Music


More Cowbell

Playing and composing songs on your own is a blast for some, however there’s something special about making music in collaboration with other like-minded folks that just can’t be beat. In this hands-on, music making session, participants will use GarageBand to learn the basics of song writing and music production. Participants will have plenty of time to explore and experience the fun of collaborative music creation. Musicians of any and all skill levels are welcome. Make sure to bring your Mac and/or iOS device with GarageBand installed. All grade levels.
Tim Hart MLTI Apple Learning Specialist


Using Multiple Intelligences to Teach Students with Disabilities

Learn how teaching using multiple intelligence can be a way to unlock learning goals for students with disabilities. All grade levels. All content.

Brigid Rankowski Teaching Artist


SLOs – Student Learning Objectives

The workshop will give a brief overview of Chapter 180, and focus on writing and implementing SLOs. Time will be provided to practice writing SLOs and receive feedback  All grade levels. All content.

MaryEllen Schaper Bonney Eagle Middle School, Grades 6-8 Dance



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.  All content.

Samantha Armstrong Paris Elementary School and Hebron Elementary
Schools, Grades K-6 Visual Art

Writing Across the Curriculum in a Performing Arts Classroom

Writing is a life skill that is of critical importance to our students.  I will share ways in which I have incorporated writing composition and critical responses in to my dance classroom. All grades levels. All content.

Emma Campbell Thornton Academy Dance


Including Students with Disabilities in Your Art Classroom Using iMovie

Use stations and sites fostering independence to help students collect assets for creating art infused iMovie productions. This session will showcase how a green screen and some photos can provide opportunities for all learners to showcase their creative side. MLTI MacBooks with the most current version of iMovie is encouraged. All content. All grade levels.

Lindsey Carnes MLTI Apple Learning Specialist

Reflections on Standards Based teaching and Learning

In this workshop participants will discuss ways to connect students with standards, methods of to make SBL visible for students and the use of a matrix to document teaching opportunities that are standards based. Grades 6-12

Jennie Driscoll Brunswick High School Visual Art

Making 8-bit Art

Beginning with early Atari and Nintendo video games, the 8-bit aesthetic has been a part of our culture for over 30 years. No longer just nostalgia art, contemporary 8-bit artists and chiptunes musicians have elevated the form to new levels of creativity and cultural reflection. In this session, we will focus on tools that assist in creating 8-bit images, animations, and music.  Please bring your MLTI MacBook. All grade levels.

Tim Hart MLTI Apple Learning Specialist

“Something from Nothing” or Costuming on a Budget

Hot glue, curtains, table cloths, children’s sleds, and ribbon – what do they all have in common? They can be ingeniously used to create authentic costumes for all plays.  Armed with this knowledge, you can devise a lesson in the designing of costumes for the stage for your students. If time permits, participants can brainstorm possible resources and ways to include students. Grades 9-12

Jean Phillips Wiscasset High School Theatre

Music Curriculum SLOs

Building SLO and Data Points from your Music Curriculum. Grades K-8

Cynthia Streznewski Woolwich Central School, Grades K-8 Music


About MALI

In the spring of 2011, the Maine Department of Education launched the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). During the summer of 2015 after gathering feedback from the initiative’s Teacher Leaders the name was changed to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). Presently in phase six, the Maine Arts Commission continues to provide professional learning opportunities for educators. The mission was changed to reflect the present work underway. The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) is committed to the development of teacher leaders to ensure deep understanding and meaningful implementation of high quality teaching, learning, and assessment in the arts.

Thank you to the MALI partners for your collaborative work with MALI: Maine Department of Education, Maine Art Education Association, Maine Music Educators Association, New England Institute for Teacher Education, University of Southern Maine, and UMaine Performing Arts.

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