Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

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MAEA Conference

May 20, 2022

Professional Development at it’s Finest

RSU #40 Art teachers Brooke Holland and Anthony Lufkin have been busy planning the annual Maine Art Education Association Fall Conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Monson Arts. This is the first conference being held at Haystack since September 2019, hence the theme. The conference is scheduled for September 16-18, at both Haystack and Monson locations. Registration opens on June 1 and you can prepare by reviewing the workshops that are being offered and the conference details. The cost is $295.00 (for MAEA members) and includes workshop, room, and delicious food. Some workshops have an additional materials fee. Registration opens June 1st so get ready! Studio descriptions are on the MAEA website now and are looking for volunteers to be studio assistants. If you are interested in being an assistant please respond to this google form. Assistants will be assigned on a first come first serve basis and will receive priority registration.  

Workshop Sessions at Haystack

  • Carved Alabaster – Anne Alexander
  • Relief Printing: Playing with Layers – Holly Berry
  • Mixed Metals – Maggi Blue
  • Ceramics, Form & Surface – Carolyn Brown
  • Large-Scaler Prints – Alexis Iammarino
  • Digital Fabrication – James Rutter
  • Tapestry Weaving – Bobbie Tilkens-Fisher
  • Pewter Casting – Simon ‘Siem’ van der Ven

Workshop Sessions at Monson​

  • Ceramics, Wheel-Throwing – Jemma Gascoine ​ 
  • ​Wood Engraving – Lisa Pixley

The descriptions, material lists, and facilitator biography’s for all the workshops are on the MAEA website.

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Spring Choral Concert

May 12, 2022

Camden Hills Regional High School

The Camden Hills Regional HS Chorale, Chamber Singers and Treble Choir will present their Spring Choral Concert on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00 PM in the Strom auditorium. The ensembles, directed by Kimberly Murphy and accompanied by Matthew Mainster will perform a variety of selections, featuring many soloists and guest artists.

Kim Murphy

Of special note will be BSO percussionist Nancy Rowe accompanying the Treble Choir on xylophone in their performance of Mark Patterson’s “Edges of the Night” – a song that highlights the plight of refugees. Ms. Rowe will also play the djembe to accompany two selections by the Chorale and Chamber Singers. A guest string quartet: Sarah Glenn (violin), Heidi Karod (violin), Linda Vaillancourt (viola) and April Reed-Cox (cello) will accompany the Chamber Singers’ performance of “Deep Peace” written by Elaine Hagenberg and Ola Gjeilo’s “The Ground.” Both selections incorporate the theme of peace, with Ola Gjeilo’s composition ending with the lyrics “Dona Nobis Pacem” (grant us peace).

Nancy Rowe

Additional themes concurrent in many of the selections are that of youth, and hope through music. Young singers in grades 3 – 8 will join the high school Chorale in a stirring rendition of “Rise Up” – a song made popular by Andra Day.  The performance will feature many soloists including Sara Ackley, Alyssa Lewis, Lenigha White, Noelle Delano and young singers Rowan McWilliams and Nathan Gomez. The string quartet will return to accompany the Treble Choir in a selection which highlights the beauty and hope of music in “Alway Something Sings.” With text by Ralph Waldo Emerson and music by Dan Forrest, this selection also highlights guest singer, Lydia Day. The theme of hope for our youth continues with the Kyle Pederson composition of “Remember the Children.” This song will feature four soloists: Audrey Leavitt, Aly Shook, Lucas Marriner-Ward and Daniel McGregor.

Seniors Audrey Leavitt and Aly Shook will return to the stage as they lead the student a cappella ensemble: Fortissima in three selections. This extra-curricular student-led ensemble has been rejuvenated under their direction and is flourishing in dedication and musicality. Of special note will be a Fortissima performance of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers,” arranged by Junior, Grace Yanz.

Throughout the evening many soloists will be featured, including Joshua Kohlstrom, Iselin Bratz, Nora Finck, Abigail Kohlstrom, Trey Freeman, Grace Yanz, Jocelyn Serrie, Charlotte Thackeray, Charlotte Nelson, Sophie Ryan, George Bickham, Maren Kinney, Alyssa Bland, Isabella Kinney and flautist Cabot Adams.

During this joyful concert student achievements in the MMEA District III and All State music festivals will be recognized, along with a tribute to our outstanding senior musicians. The concert is free to the public. As of this writing, masks, for both performers and audience members, are optional. For more information, contact director Kimberly Murphy at kim.murphy@fivetowns.net  See you at the show!

I’m certain this is going to be a spectacular concert since Kim is retiring at the end of this school year.

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Traveling and Learning

May 5, 2022

Fast forward

I’m always surprised how much I learn when traveling from home for a length of time (more than 4 days). The pandemic has slowed down my opportunity to travel but fortunately, I had the chance during two weeks in April. I boarded a plane on April 5 and returned on the 19th and in total I took 5 flights including round trip to Dublin. It was an amazing adventure in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Most of the time I was with my son, Nicholas, and part of the time I traveled with Central School, South Berwick’s music teacher Kate Smith and her two daughters. Many friends and colleagues asked me to share my trip so this blogpost gives you the highlights along with some of my favorite photos.

DAY 1, Dublin to Northern Ireland, April 6

I landed in Dublin, after a short night from Boston, at 8am. Nicholas was the official driver and adapted quickly, from the opposite side of the car on the opposite side of the road (of what is familiar to Americans).

We headed north to Belfast. Nicholas visited the Titanic Museum while I toured the city to see the many murals that document the stories of the unrest that has gone on for years between the Catholics and Protestants. My guide, Joe, was very knowledgeable and holds George Mitchell (Maine’s past Senator) in high esteem. I’m sure that many of you know Mitchell served as the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995–2001), appointed by President Clinton and negotiated the peace treaty. Negotiations took place in a church, since it was viewed ‘safe’, and Joe was sure to point it out. We stopped at the four gates that continue to separate the communities. Each day at 6pm three of the gates are closed and not unlocked until morning. The tall fences that separates the two sides are still in place.

The Peace Mural

The troubles still exist but if Joe was any reflection, life will continue to get better for all. He joked with other tour guides along the almost 2 hour tour. At the last mural I took a photo of Joe and another guide, arms around each other, big smiles. When we returned to the car he said “I’m Catholic and he’s Protestant. Things will be better.” He holds such hope!

After a delicious fish and chip lunch we walked along the harbor and headed north to our Airbnb near the Northern Ireland coast. Our hosts were amazing, Mary Jane and Hugh and daughter Katie. We were in a cottage on their sheep farm in Cloyfin – a beautiful view in all directions with lush green farmland. They invited us for meatballs and pasta supper. Katie was working on her senior sculpture project, a huge welded abstract piece. Needless to say, it was fun and we were grateful to be able to relax in their cozy home after a long day.

Day 2, Northern Ireland, April 7

We woke up in our warm cottage to a sky that looked stormy and by 7am the rain was really coming down. So we packed our rain pants and jackets as I remembered my guide Joe in Belfast saying: “if you don’t like the weather at the moment just wait, because in Ireland we have all four seasons in one day.” (Sounds similar to our Maine saying about the weather). Interestingly, not long after we started, the sun came out and stayed for most of our day on the Causeway Coast.

We could see with our first glimpse of the water that it was very windy. We learned later that the wind was blowing 50 miles per hour. Dunluce Magheracross was a quick stop. We could barely open the car doors and walk the 100 feet to the lookout it was so windy. I thought I saw the car lift off the ground on the way back to it.

We headed east to Dunluce Castle which, due to the high winds was free for visitors. The visitors center was well done (educational info) and filled with about 25 grade K and 1 students and their teachers who said it was their first field trip since the start of the pandemic. The castle was built on the edge of a steep crag in the 16th century. Considering it’s age is well preserved and maintained. As we left the castle area, the children were entering and with every gust of wind the children screeched. What a site and sound!

Looking out from Dunluce Castle

We visited a second castle, Dunseverick, which was very different than Dunluce, with only one wall remaining but the setting incredible. The view and lush green invited us to walk high above the water.

Remains of Dunseverick Castle

Giants Causeway was our next stop. The visitors center was very good with demonstrations of how the volcano formed Giants Causeway. In the 1740s it was an artist who was partially responsible for spreading the word of the amazing place. Susanna Drury spent 3 months painting the rock formation. She made two prints from her paintings and they traveled to spread the work of the “astonishing place”. The octagon shaped rocks are a site to behold. With only a 2 meter tide, the salt water preserves the rocks – deep and dark blackness. Climbing from one to the next rock felt like they were intentionally placed just for our fun. Ahhhh… mother natures gifts! The spot was the only location the entire day where we experienced many visitors. We continued on the trail beyond Giants and found few people. The sweep of the ocean views – simply breathtaking, every step of the way. When we weren’t looking at the ocean, we feasted our eyes on the lush green fields filled with sheep including many new borns.

Giants Causeway

Lunch at The Nook, which used to be a school, close by Giants for delicious seafood chowder made with salmon, mussels, cockles, prawns, haddock and brown bread on the side. Sooooo good!!

Onto Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which, yes, it is a rope bridge, 100 feet above the water. It leads to the fisherman’s island where in 1803 the report read: 82 fishers, 21 salmon fishers 19 fish carriers (it’s about a mile walk to the bridge from the visitors center). Unfortunately, due to high winds, the bridge was closed. Fortunately, we could see the island and imagine the fisherman at work. Sadly the salmon fishery is all but gone.

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

Our last stop for the afternoon was at the Dark Hedges. One hundred and fifty Beech trees were planted in 1775 by James Stuart to line the entrance to the family home he built. This has been a filming location for HBO’s series Game of Thrones®, representing Kingsroad. The trees are off shoots from the originals and are intertwined and entangled to create a stunning site. A great way to end an amazing day!

Dark Hedges

DAY 3, heading southwest into Ireland, April 8

We woke to hail beating on the cottage windows. In our first hour of driving we went through rain, sleet, hail and snow and we could see snow on the mountain tops in the distance. Not long afterwards the sun came out for the rest of the day.

We stopped in Derry or Londonderry which is a walled city built in the 1500’s. There are amazing political murals throughout. We walked alongside of the wall, through archways and on top of the wall. We were surprised how wide the wall was in some places – enough for two cars.

Onto county Donegal for a stop at Lough Eske Castle for a lovely “afternoon tea” (at noon). We had delicious golden Irish tea, savory sandwiches, pastries and sweet treats. The castle, sculptures, 2D art including photographs were all spectacular. It was fun to learn the ‘proper way’ to drink tea. By the way it doesn’t include extending your pinky finger.

Lough Eske Castle, afternoon tea

On to the Donegal Craft Village which consists of 8 artists studios and shops. My favorite was The Pear in Paper. Artist Lynn and two young woman were making linoleum prints and letterpress cards. They use a treadle base letterpress that was built in 1872. Lynn is self-taught using books and YouTube videos written and created by Americans. The shop, studio, art and conversation were all delightful!

Our next Airbnb named Lignaul Cottage was a 1/2 mile down a small dirt road. Our view again was a field of sheep and it was very quiet. We had a delicious supper at a local pub.

DAY 4, traveling south near the western coast, April 9

We woke to sunshine and yet again a brief rain shower within an hour. It didn’t last long and the day was a warmer, no wind and lots of sunshine. We started the day with a traditional Irish breakfast at Mrs. B’s in Kellybegs. We opted for the smaller version, called the ‘mini’. Afterwards, a walk along the water to see the giant colorful fishing boats and a stop at a very pretty beach for a short walk on our way west.

Traditional Irish breakfast

Onto Slieve League – amazing cliffs above the sea. All along our 30 minute walk to the top we stopped for pictures and for our eyes to absorb the beauty. The great distances on the steep walk were dizzying. We could see to the very top of the cliffs. It resembled Katahdin’s Knifes Edge. In the visitors center we read many stories and mysteries about Slieve League Cliffs, including this one: In the late 1600’s a young girl, Bridget McGinley, was snatched by an eagle and later dropped and she survived. Her grandchildren remember her showing them the scars on her left chest where the eagle held on with his talons.

On the way down this majestic mountainside (200 feet high), Nicholas walked on a piece of land that jutted out in the water. He was but a speck at the furthest point. This was an important area during WWII, pilots depended on the words made out of rocks on the mountain sides and the lookouts that were installed to worn the pilots that the area was neutral territory.

Slieve League Cliffs

Rockwell Kent lived and painted close by in 1926. When he arrived he asked where the most remote place was to live for 2 years. We learned from a couple of Irish hikers that we were fortunate to be at Slieve League with the weather sunny and no wind. They had tried to visit on several occasions with no luck due to the wind and rain.

We spent the afternoon scooting along narrow roads stopping at a beautiful and remote waterfall, admiring the sea, and watching the young lambs play in the grassy knolls.

Our last stop for the day was at Ardara where they make and sell beautiful tweed clothing, hats, and scarfs. The main weaver works on a 300 year old loom and he’s 85 years old. From start to finish it takes 3 weeks to create a batch of capes. I have such an appreciation for the crafters and the process having done some dabbling w the craft in the past. And all of the items absolutely beautiful!

Beautiful cape, Ardara

DAY 5, Donegal to Sligo, April 10

We drove from Donegal to Sligo with two stops. The first was at Eagle’s Rock in County Leitrim. A short path led us to a gate with a walk over ladder or stile, as it’s called. The stone covered road is in fine condition for a hike over commonage. A commonage is land held in common ownership on which 2 or more landowners or farmers, in this case all over Ireland, have grazing rights.

In the distance to our left Eagle Rock loomed up. It was formed about 12,000 years ago by two small glaciers that dug into the mountain’s horizontally-embedded limestone. It was somewhat magical and eerie at the same time with the wind whistling through the cracks and the angle seemed to shift as we walked along. Even more magical were the hundreds of sheep who were slowly moving along eating the grass. They’re everywhere! Each with a dyed spot of blue or pink, to identify the owners. Even the newborns were marked.

Eagle Rock

All day long it looked like the sky would open up dropping rain but it surprisingly remained grey and damp. We stopped at the church and cemetery in Sligo where William Yeats is buried before heading to hike Benbulbin.

Benbulbin is a flat topped mountain in County Sligo. The mountain loomed up as we hiked a trail that circled near the base. The area is well maintained even w what appeared to be clear cutting taking place. We landed at a BandB with a room that looked up at the amazing mountain. And what a surprise to find Maine products in the bathroom. Our very kind BandB owner Maureen had no idea where she got them.

Benbulbin

DAY 6, east to Dublin, April 11

Today we drove from the west side of Ireland in Sligo to the east side, Dublin. It took about 3 hours. Dropped our stuff at the Leixlip Manor, dates from 1700, very cool place.

We drove into Dublin, 25 minutes away. First stop was at EPIC which is home to small eating places and shops with the majority being the home of the Irish Emigration Museum. It is very well done. With passport in hand visitors wind their way through several rooms that include the stories of almost 300 Irish people. It includes the history while intertwining the journeys, education, politics, the arts, and much more.

Afterwards we walked and walked through the city viewing flowers, sculptures, and the Irish people themselves. We stopped at the sculpture of Oscar Wilde, walked the Trinity College campus to see other sculptures. Some of the buildings were very ornate with interesting details.

We met a friends granddaughter who is studying in Dublin and had a pleasant visit over supper. Our walk back to the car was pleasant especially walking over the bridge again with the end of day light for our last full day in Ireland. Back to the manor for a short night.

Day is done, Dublin

DAY 7, Flight to Amsterdam, April 12

I was pretty excited especially when I realized my last trip to Amsterdam was in 1975 when I was traveling during spring break. I was at the university in Copenhagen as an exchange student. We spent the day at the Rijksmuseum, mostly to see the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Newly cleaned and hanging behind glass. And, there were others that I really love by Johannes Vemeer, Peter Claesz, Van Gogh.

Afterwards we walked along the canals being careful not to step in front of the many, many people on bicycles. We had supper on the canal as we watched the boats go by peacefully. Beet Dutch meatballs called Bitterballens. Ordered them w beets instead of meat. Mmmmm!

DAY 8, a visit to the tulips, WOWZER!, April 13

This day was a dream day! I am so very fortunate to have this adventure and I am doubly grateful for it! I’ve dreamed about walking through the tulips, grateful this dream came true!

We met Nicholas’ friend Pegah who has lived in Amsterdam for many years at the train station to travel 30 minutes out of Amsterdam to see and walk through the tulip fields. The tulip area we went to is in the town of Hillegrom. We walked 20 minutes from the train station to Ruigrok fields and were glad that a young tulip grower created a place where visitors can actually get up close with the tulips. We learned so much about growing tulips, FOR THE BULBS, while speaking to the owner who was a delight! It makes perfect sense that the tulip farmers are not interested in people walking all over their fields. The place was fun as you can probably tell from the photo.

Singing in the tulips

We continued walking another 15 minutes to the center of town and along the way we passed several more fields of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The smell was amazing as well. We had a lovely lunch and headed back to Amsterdam.

It was a sunny day so took the afternoon and toured the canals by boat learning the history of the canals. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, easy to get around. Fun to watch the people, bike riders, and enjoy the food and art everywhere.

Amsterdam canals seen from the water

It was a wonderful last day with Nicholas. He has been an amazing guide and traveling buddy. I said so long to Amsterdam.

DAY 9, off to England, April 14

I got on an early morning flight from Amsterdam to London and met Kate and Mikayla Smith at the airport. They flew all night from Boston. We hopped on a bus and headed to Oxford where Kate’s daughter Alaina spent the semester. spending two days in Oxford. Oxford has mostly very old structures, some from the 1100’s, and are well cared for. The blending of the new structures w the old is fabulous.

We enjoyed street artists, the old prison, a short walk along the canal, and visiting a couple of shops. The day ended in a traditional English pub with fish and chips!

DAY 10, Oxford, April 15

A delightful day starting with breakfast and morning prayer at a small and amazingly beautiful Catholic Church. I was reminded that it is “American Good Friday”. Soon after we met up with Mik and Alaina and spent much of the day at the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. I found both collections impressive and mind boggling, not to mention the physical spaces of each building, attached but separate.

My favorite part of the Museum of Natural History included a show on biodiversity that combined the art of contemporary artist and environmentalist Kurt Jackson and responses of Oxford researchers. Kurt’s art is from locations across the UK. I loved the way the exhibit articulates the importance of the artists observations. His small studies and large paintings are lovely.

One of Kurt Jackson’s art

Walking into Pitt Rivers was like walking into a huge organized antique shop. It has over 500,000 objects from many parts of the world. Three floors full. I loved looking at the patterns on the fabrics, baskets, pottery, masks, tools, dishware, and weapons. And imagining the people wearing and using and creating them. How the people lived each day with their daily rituals and traditions and the stories they told.

The weather is sunny and 68 degrees, so pleasurable walking and seeing buildings and details on doors, fences, streets, and so much more. The day ended at a local restaurant w a beer, local musician singing and playing guitar and in the next room an art closing. The show included paintings created during the pandemic by a woman who is full of energy and a zest for living fully.

Grateful for this amazing day!

DAY 11, Oxford and London, Saturday, April 16

We started the morning with breakfast at a little cafe with a interesting designed pizza oven with outside tables next to the bazaar in Oxford. We visited the Ashmolean Museum, thrilled to see the Camille Pissarro exhibit. Their collection has many of his and those he painted side by side with Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. He established a group that included 15 artists who were learning together. Pissarro is considered by many the father of Impressionism but what I saw in the show was a ‘learning from each other’ artists-friends community. There was even one Vincent Van Gogh piece and a few by Georges Seurat. The light, color, texture and depiction of the every day lives of ‘regular people’ – spectacular. And the story behind the story was how Pissarro’s wife held the family together and enriched their lives, artists and their 7 children, all artists. Not enough time to explore the rest of the museum, but the collection is enormous. I am so glad we visited.

We headed to London by bus and did some walking to see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, London eye, flower beds, birds, sculptures, and tons of people everywhere.

Mik, Kate, Alaina

DAY 12, London, Sunday, April 17

Fortunately our apartment for 2 nights was in a location where a short walk led to interesting locations and small surprises. On my way to see Big Ben I saw people looking through a black iron fence. It was the royal band being inspected for the day. Not exactly like Frank inspecting the troops at MASH 4077. Orderly, precision in a relaxed way.

My next surprise was the open and inviting doors to the Royal Military Chapel. I was greeted at the door by a priest who invited me to stay for the Easter service starting in 30 minutes. I thanked him and asked about listening to the choir who was practicing for the morning service. The church was enormous and beautiful but even more so was the sound of the organ and choir. I listened as the priest gave the guard details about where to seat the royal family members in their arrival.

Walked along admiring the beautiful flowers in the park that extends for blocks in front of Buckingham Palace. Big Ben loomed up in front of me as I came onto Parliament Square with elaborate churches and a small park with several monuments. David Lloyd George’s was dramatic. The sound of a bag piper was warming along with the sunshine and 65 degrees. The massive number of people going every which way was mind boggling! In contrast, on the route back to the apartment I took side streets and was struck at the sight of no one.

My last fun surprise of the morning was the sound of the royal band leaving their inspection area and marching to the palace. Stopped at a cafe for brunch and a chance to wonder where people were going as they zipped by.

A highlight of the trip was attending Hamilton at the beautiful Victoria Palace Theater. The best word that describes the performance for me: STUNNING, in every way!! The set, use of stage, costumes, actors, music. What a performance-wow, wow, wow!

Victoria Palace Theater, Hamilton performance

The day was complete with a meal at Its All Greek to Me. Yum!

DAY 13, Monday, April 18

I said so long to Kate, Alaina, and Mikayla and headed to the airport. Today I traveled from Gatwick airport in London to Dublin, Ireland. I took a Bolt ride (no Uber in England) to Blackfriar train station, three stops to Gatwick, flight to Dublin, and I stayed at one of the airport hotels to be close by for my flight home to Boston the next day.

It’s been an incredible journey-sooooooo grateful for every moment! Sooooo happy to be traveling again. Appreciate Nicholas, Kate, Mikayla, and Alaina! The world where I’ve been is definitely opening up once again. Of my 5 flights I only had to show any Covid documentation once. I’m sad knowing my journey is coming to an end but my memories will continue and I’m happy to be headed towards the states. Travel is special to me, from my first trip out of the US in 1973 with my sister Niki to Greece and Egypt, I knew it was something I’d want to continue. I’m soooo grateful for the many travel opportunities I’ve had and all the learning along the way.

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World Collage Day

April 26, 2022

Plan to participate – May 14

World Collage Day is an international celebration of the fine art of collage being recognized this year on on Saturday, May 14th, 2022! Celebrate with enthusiasts around the globe. If you google ‘world collage day’ you can see what some others are doing to recognize the day. And right here in Maine, the Bangor Public Library has put a call out for collages that will be included in a display at the library. The details are below with hopes of having your students participate or, if the library is not a convenient location for your students, create something similar and get some energy going around World Collage Day! This is a great way to celebrate spring and to help turn the corner from the pandemic. Using the theme “Hopeful” because we know that there are many reasons to focus on what gives us hope.

Bangor Public Library Plans – your invited or use this idea to adapt for your community!

Join in the fun and make a collage to be on display at the Bangor Public Library!

You are invited to submit a collage if you are preK-grade 12 students. 

Collages must be no larger than 9”x12” and must be made of paper (no 3-D objects). You can use magazines, colored paper, newspaper, paper bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper, etc. and mount your collage on thin cardboard (cereal box thickness is sturdy enough to use for the backing of the collage). 

Created by Kal Elmore

What is a collage? 

Usually a collage is an art work made up of photos, clippings, or found items that are attached to a sturdy surface. An example is a picture of a tree made up of pictures of things that are green. You can search on the internet for many interesting examples of collage, if you would like to get ideas. 

The theme is ‘Hopeful

There are many reasons why this is a good time to focus on the things that give us hope. Brainstorm some ideas with a friend or family member and think about these ideas as you make your collage. 

Collages are mostly made up of scraps of paper so you can also think of this as a recycle/reuse project. (Do not use special pictures or papers without permission).

All you will need is some paper scraps, some glue, scissors (if you need to cut things), and your imagination! 

If you don’t have scrap materials at home you can go to the Bangor Public Library Children’s room and pick up a paper bag with paper scraps inside. You still need your own glue and backing material and scissors. These bags will be available at the library from May 2 – May 12, during library hours. 

Submit collages

Your finished collage needs to be submitted to the Children’s Room in the Bangor library on May 12-14, during library hours. (There will be a box for submissions.) 

Before submitting your collage you might want to take a picture of it or a picture of you and your collage. The library is not responsible for lost or damaged work, and sometimes things happen. If you want your collage, back you need to pick it up at the library on May 31 during library hours. 

If you want, you can post the picture of you and your collage on Instagram with the hashtag #meworldcollageday2022.

On the back of your collage please put your name, the title of your work, and a parent or guardian signature that shows you have their permission to submit the work. 

If you have any questions, please contact one of the librarians or Candis Joyce, Reference Department, Adult Program Coordinator, Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow Street, Bangor, ME 04401, (207) 947-8336 ext. 127, (207) 922-6054 direct.

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MAEA Conference and Awards

April 12, 2022

What a day for art education!

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) concluded an outstanding spring conference by presenting three, no four, awards to deserving educators. But first a word about the conference. I’ve been around long enough to see institutions transform, some for the third and fourth time. I had the pleasure of working on the planning committee for the MAEA spring conference that was held on Saturday, April 2 in Rockland at the Farnsworth Art Museum and CMCA. I’m not just talking about a conference that was held in both facilities but what took place was magical. It was delightful to see the two institutions partner with MAEA to put together a very worthwhile day for art educators.

Presentation by Daniel Salomon

The conference entitled Radical Reuse was planned and implemented by a group of people who had never worked together before, some new to their positions, and everyone went above and beyond. Over a two month period every Thursday the education staffs of both institutions and the MAEA conference planners came together on zoom to plan the annual spring conference. THANK YOU to everyone for a job well done! From CMCA: Mia Bogyo, and representing the Farnsworth: Gwendolyn Loomis Smith, Katherine Karlik, and Alexis Saba. MAEA president, Lynda Leonas, coordinated the effort with board members Iva Damon and Christine Del Rossi supporting. From the Rockland school district Richard Wehnke helped.

Printmaking with Sherrie York – Lynda Leonas and Iva Damon

The keynote was provided by Krisanne Baker, Medomak Valley High School art and ecology teacher and artist. She is committed to advocating for the ocean and inspires her students to learn about water quality, availability and rights, and ocean stewardship. Guest speaker Daniel Salomon who teaches in The Hatchery at Camden Hills Regional High School provided background information on the work he is doing with students utilizing and reusing materials and the role we each can play.

Gallery tour, Farnsworth

After the opening speakers, conference participants attended sessions on printmaking with Sherrie York, art making around ‘place’ with Alexis Iammarino, toured the Farnsworth Museum, and toured CMCA. Several merchants from Downtown Rockland supported the conference goers with discounts. During the middle of the day Daniel’s students from the Hatchery, set up outside CMCA, shared several of the projects they have been involved in this year.

Alexis Iammarino demonstrating, CMCA

AWARDS PROGRAM

The day concluded with honoring the work of four educators with an amazing backdrop of quilts at CMCA. The educators are outstanding in and out of the classroom, engaged in work at the local, regional, and state level. They work (and play) tirelessly, sometimes alone and often collaborating with others. Every day they exhibit all that is right about education. In their respective institutions they have a place at the table where they continuously advocate for students and art education. We know that an excellent education in the arts is essential, and these educators strive for every student to experience just that. 

The awards committee was led by Belfast Area High School art teacher Heidi O’Donnell. Members of the committee included Hope Lord, Maranacook Middle School art teacher and Suzanne Goulet, Waterville High School art teacher, and myself. The awards, clay vessels, were created by Carolyn Brown, Camden Hills Regional High School art teacher. In addition each educator received a plaque for their classroom and a pineapple.

The 2022 Administration/Supervision Art Educator of the Year was presented to Dr. Rachel Somerville who is at Maine College of Art & Design and Westbrook Schools. She was introduced by Melissa Perkins, Congin Elementary School art teacher, Westbrook.

Melissa presenting Rachel

The 2022 Secondary Art Educator of the year was presented to Iva Damon, art teacher at Leavitt Area High School in Turner. She was introduced by Lynda Leonas, president of MAEA and an art teacher at Walton and Washburn Elementary Schools in Auburn.

Lynda presenting Iva

The 2023 Maine Art Educator of the Year was presented to Matthew Johnson, art teacher at Westbrook High School. He was introduced by Deb Bickford who also teaches art at Westbrook High School.

Lynda Leonas presented a surprise pineapple award to Heidi for outstanding leadership and contributions to the MAEA board. She is stepping down from the board as she takes on a leadership position with the National Art Education Association.

Heidi O’Donnell, right with her Belfast colleagues Linda Nicholas, middle and Kathie Gass, left

As we move away from the challenges of the pandemic I urge you to consider:

  • Become a member of MAEA, if you are not already one
  • Volunteer to become a board member and take on a leadership role
  • Nominate a colleague who is worthy of recognition

For more information please go to the MAEA website.

Photos taken by Heidi O’Donnell and myself.

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HundrED

April 3, 2022

Accepting applications

If you’re interested in connecting with a global audience of educators, please read this post. I’ve blogged about HundrED in the past. In 2018 I was selected as a HundrED Ambassador and was invited to attend the HundrED Summit in Helsinki in 2018 and 19. I met amazing educators from around the world. Some of my follow up roles with HundrED have been to assist in the selection of innovations that best represent HundrED’s mission.

What is HundrED?

HundrED is a global education non-profit, recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on scalable innovations in K-12 education. HundrED’s mission is to help every child flourish in life by giving them access to the best possible education innovations. HundrED annually selects 100 leading education innovations globally packages and shares their amazing work with the world, for free. 

Applications are open for the HundrED 2023 Global Collection – DEADLINE: JUNE 1ST, 2022 

Are you an education innovator? We want to hear from you! Submit your initiative to the HundrED 2023 Global Collection before June 1st, 2022. If you are not an innovator, but know an organization doing great work in the field of education, send us an email at research@hundred.org with a link to their website. APPLICATION.

In addition HundrED has put together a Social & Emotional Learning Spotlight Report that can be downloaded.

In an unprecedented way, the global pandemic has highlighted the importance of building social and emotional skills (SEL) to help children thrive in school, the workplace, and life. In this report we highlight 13 of the most impactful and scalable education innovations fostering SEL skills in students. In addition, the report offers 5 successful strategies for implementing these programs. 

HundrED and Ukraine

Of course HundrED has Innovators and Ambassadors from Ukraine. They’re reaching out to these people and in this writing you can read about the crisis from a Ukrainian teachers perspective. In addition HundrEd provides resources on how to speak with children about the crisis in Ukraine.

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Insect Lab

March 22, 2022

Learning opportunity for teachers

Below is an invitation from Maine artist Mike Libby! Mike is a graduate of Bangor High School and is an amazing artist who established INSECT LAB. Now, he’s sharing his ideas with teachers. I encourage you to respond to Mike and join him on zoom during one or all of the sessions. What a super opportunity to consider how Insect Lab could be part of a lesson or perhaps your school curriculum.

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MAEA Spring Conference

March 19, 2022

Don’t delay – register today!

With a few spaces left to attend the spring conference, the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) is extending the deadline – don’t delay. How wonderful it is to know that teachers can come together IN PERSON for professional development once again. Join colleagues from across the state on April 2, 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. MAEA is partnering with the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland to offer this learning opportunity for Maine teachers who are *members of MAEA. Register at THIS LINK.

Keynote will be given by Medomak Valley High School teacher and artist Krisanne Baker. Daniel Salomon from Camden Hills Regional High School is a guest speaker. Several members of the Downtown Rockland Association are offering a discount during the conference including restaurant.

**You can become a member at the same time you register. Ignore the registration deadline below.

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Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts

January 27, 2022

What a gift the glacier left

The word watershed (noun) means a time when an important change takes place. Over the years Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, located in Newcastle, Maine has shifted and grown as changes were needed and I’d say most, if not all, were important to the organization. At its inception the focus was on bringing artists together to learn and create. And, for many years Watershed has offered professional development for educators, many of them Maine K-12 visual art teachers.

Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts story started thousands of years ago. There is an abundance of glacial marine clay from the mountains to the sea because at one point Maine was covered by a giant glacier. Watershed is located in Newcastle, a place that has an abundance of clay with a blue-green tinge. Clay can be found throughout our state along banks of rivers and streams and also in fields. Sometimes it takes time to locate; it can be very pure or filled with other components that need to be picked and sifted out. Fortunately, one of the resources that Watershed provides for teachers is a video depicting the exploration to find clay.

This blog post tells the story of Watershed with several topics; history, philosophy, educational opportunities, audience, pandemic – ups and downs, changes underway, and supporting Watershed. Some of the blog content is taken directly from Watershed’s website; some is provided by the founders, teachers who have taken workshops, artist working at the center, and some from staff. A great big thanks to Claire Brassil, Watershed’s Outreach & Communications Director for her assistance with this post.

Original studio space

HISTORY

The history of Watershed begins with the geological gift of clay found along the banks of local rivers in midcoast Maine. For much of the 19th century, the local community relied on vital income from the manufacturing of waterstruck brick (so called because it was made from a wet mixture of clay and water). Waterstruck brick had lasting historical appeal, and in the 1970s an attempt was made to re-establish its manufacture on the site that is now the Watershed campus in Newcastle. While the brick business folded after a year, a group of artists became inspired to make use of the abandoned factory and the tons of local marine clay left at the site.

In 1986, Margaret Griggs, George Mason, Lynn Duryea and Chris Gustin collaborated on a new vision for the brick-making factory—as a place for clay artists to live and work in community. The open layout of the facility encouraged the artists to approach their work with a new vigor and awareness, and the seeds for what would become Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts took hold.

Founders George Mason, Lynn Duryea and Chris Gustin

During Watershed’s early years, small groups of 10-12 artists would spend the summer living and working together on the campus. The first residents formed connections and friendships in a space that provided opportunities to create without hierarchy. Artists developed their personal work and envisioned new possibilities for a creative community. Watershed soon began to attract artists from far corners of the world who sought a creative environment in which to engage and explore. Today, more than 100 artists a year come to Watershed to create and connect with like-minded makers.

I’ve been fortunate to know Ceramic Artist George Mason for many years. In 1987 he created a Percent for Art Project at the new school building where I was teaching in Union. He is an amazing, thoughtful and kind artist. When I asked George what his vision was when he first came together with his colleagues, this was his response:

You know, this all started among friends inviting friends. We sensed a creative opportunity to find out what might unfold by just living and working together with no aesthetic agenda or expectation of result. Even before the name Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts came into being after the first season, this place was already a refuge apart from career; where the magic of relationship and creativity had the space to spark the unexpected.

PHILOSOPHY

Central to Watershed’s philosophy is a belief that the unexpected sparks creativity and that new people, ideas and spaces nurture the evolution of artistic practice. Our dual mission is to provide artists with time and space to explore ideas with clay; and to promote public awareness of the ceramic arts. Through residencies, workshops, public events, talks and exhibitions, Watershed supports the process and work of clay artists from around the country and world.

This video on youtube is very informative.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, YES FOR TEACHERS

Watershed offers educational programs and resources for grades K-12 art teachers and students of all ages. From workshops and classroom-based experiences, to professional development and online tutorials, Watershed works to support ceramic art educators and the next generation of ceramists.

Watershed provides professional development opportunities; workshops, residencies, and resources. Teachers hone their clay education skills, develop curricula, and connect with other educators from around the state. Watershed provides newly created online tutorials, Digging & Processing Wild Clay and Raku Firing, developed by Teaching Artist Malley Weber.

Teaching Artist Malley Weber who created educational videos for Watershed

Upcoming workshops
Mold Making & Slip-Casting, March 3 – 4, 2022
Sgraffito Technique, March 25, 2022

Long time Teaching Artist and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Leader, phase 6, Tim Christensen is teaching the Sgraffito Technique workshop. Tim’s thoughts on Watershed:

“Watershed has been so important to my development as an artist and teacher. We’re incredibly fortunate to have this facility here, in Maine. It serves as a gathering and sharing place for all of the acquired knowledge of the American, and to some extent the international, ceramic scene, at the same time as providing world class studio facilities and learning opportunities. If we think of art as a language, and the different techniques and styles available to us as our vocabulary,  working through Watershed allows me to say an entire range of things that I would be otherwise unable to express through my artwork. Having Watershed available to me in Maine means I have the opportunity to say anything I can conceive with clay.”

Winthrop Middle School Art Teacher Lisa Gilman commented after the workshop she attended:

“Watershed nourishes the whole artist. They provide space and time for an artist to grow. They support the artist’s mind, body and soul. Watershed is a rare gem in today’s world. Not once all week did I miss technology or really even think of it. I was able to truly connect and grow as an artist and engage in deep thoughtful art making. Pure magic!” 

Vinalhaven’s K-12 art teacher, Heather White, comment:

“I’ve participated in countless professional development opportunities over the years, and my time spent at Watershed ranks at the very top of the list. The instructor and everyone on the Watershed staff was knowledgeable and encouraging, I got a lot accomplished in a short time, I’m going back to my classroom with new and fresh ideas, everyone I met was fun and friendly, and the food was amazing! Hopefully every art teacher in the state has an opportunity to go at some point!”

Teaching Artist Malley Weber demonstrates to a session with art teachers

AUDIENCE

Watershed’s audience is wide and varied. From artists who have different focus to teachers looking for learning opportunities to communities members who appreciate and wish immerse themselves and support ceramic programming. Some of listed below.

  • Artists who can work independently in a clay studio and come from Maine, around the country, or abroad take part in our residency program. We aim to foster community and connection among practicing artists at all stages of their careers, from students and recent graduates to established professionals looking for an opportunity to connect with other ceramists. Scholarships are available for all populations. For example in 2017 The Zenobia Fund was established for BIPOC artists, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
  • Artists with some experience in clay who are looking to further their skills and knowledge. Guest artist and kiln firing workshops are available.  
  • Maine K-12 educators and students. The teacher education program prioritizes skill-building and technique-sharing in clay for Maine’s art educators. Teachers know their students best and can tailor what they learn at Watershed to suit their particular needs and interests. The teacher sessions also provide an opportunity for art educators who usually work solo to connect and collaborate. 

Watershed offers some programs for student groups as well. Art classes come to campus to learn about Raku firing. 

  • Ceramic art lovers & appreciators. While the bulk of our programs prioritize hands-on learning for artists, Watershed offers opportunities for the public to learn more about and appreciate ceramic work via exhibitions, artist talks, special events, and Salad Days, our annual fundraiser and celebration of ceramic work. 

PANDEMIC – UPS and DOWNS

In person Watershed programming was on hold during the summer of 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the timeline for the building of the new studio (see more under ‘changes underway’ below) was pushed forward and completed more quickly since the campus was quiet.

New ways for artists to create and connect became a priority and the following are some of the programs developed:

  • Online gatherings for artists around topics that mattered to them. For example a partnership was formed with The Color Network and Ayumi Hori to facilitate online conversations for artists who focused on racial equity, economic parity, and creativity during Covid-19.
  • Kiln firing opportunities for Maine artists during the summer were available since because they’re usually in constant use by artists-in-residence.
  • An outdoor sculpture exhibition called “Outstanding in the Field” (details under “past exhibitions”) supported clay artists and offered the public an opportunity to safely view work outdoors.  
  • A series of video tutorials for K-12 teachers and students (and others), created by teaching artist Malley Weber, on digging wild clay, processing wild clay, and raku firing.

CHANGES UNDERWAY and NEXT STEPS

During the last 20 years or so Watershed has been able to maintain and upgrade some of the facilities on the property. They built and fully insulated artist cabins, built a kiln shed, and updated Thompson Hall to name a few changes.

Phase 1, 2015-17: Included project planning, a feasibility student and conceptual facility designs. From this first phase action has taken place and so many wonderful and much needed changes have occurred.

Phase 2, 2018-19: A beautiful historic building, the Joan Pearson Watkins House is located about a quarter mile down the road from the main campus. Watershed purchased the house and the accompanying 20 acres, which abut the land that leads to the studio. It was renovated and restored and holds Watershed’s Barkan Gallery, which offers year-round exhibition, lecture, and event space. Watershed’s administrative offices and retail shop are also located in the house.

Phase 3, 2020: Studio Annex provides climatized, flexible space for adjunct programming and material and equipment storage.

Phase 4, 2021-21: Windgate Studio is a 7,500 square foot studio, weatherized and ADA-compliant, supporting an expanded residency and workshop season. Features include a state-of-the-art filtration and ventilation system, spacious glaze area, custom spray booth, plaster room, and a single-level floor plan offering a seamless transition between studio and kilns. 

  • Supports artists working on commissions or large scale projects.
  • Brings (inter)nationally-known guest artists to lead workshops.
  • Provides opportunities for student groups to make and fire work.
  • Enables Watershed to collaborate with partner organizations.
  • Offers space for artists to create and connect throughout the year.
  • Tap into limitless potential!
Recently opened Windgate Studio

Phase 5: Campus Commons design and construction2022-2023. The Commons will replace the existing Thompson Hall. The plan includes comfortable dining facilities, a commercial kitchen, and weatherized housing for staff.

SUPPORTING WATERSHED

After reading about Watershed you might be wondering how they’ve been able to accomplish so much. Like anything successful they’ve had a vision, commitment from amazing staff and supportive board of directors and advisors. And, they’ve had donors (small and large contributions) who have contributed generously to the mission and success of Watershed. Their Capital Campaign called ‘Watershed NOW’ is creating spaces that inspire bold artistic practice and community. LEARN MORE.

There are opportunities to support Watershed with donations to the scholarship fund, the capital campaign, and the annual fund. Occasionally, Watershed seeks volunteers for specific events and projects. 

Watershed is well-known in the national ceramics community but has perhaps less name recognition in Maine. As capacity for year-round programming grows, Watershed plans to offer more ways for Mainers to connect. 

Co-founder Lynn Duryea shared her remembrance and thoughts on Watershed:

It really was Peg’s vision that got Watershed going. She was a long-time seasonal resident of the area and an investor in the brick factory. When it ceased to be financially viable, she really wanted to see artists use the space, did a lot of outreach and research to see how that might happen, contacting clay programs as well as individual artists. She knew George and ultimately convinced him to try the pilot program in 1986.
George invited artists he knew and who had been recommended to him. He invited me because I was working on large-scale planters for a Percent for Art installation that couldn’t be executed in my Congress St. Portland studio. He knew Chris and invited him to come with his students at Swain School of Design early in the fall. 
I was still working at Watershed when Chris came with his students. It was conversations that came out of that week that moved us forward. I don’t recall that we were looking too far down the road – as it were. I don’t know that we were thinking we were laying the groundwork for what would become a major institution in our field. We definitely saw the potential of a group of people coming together to work in what was then a very raw space, just to see what might happen collectively and individually. Watershed has always been about community – people working together on an equal footing regardless of their reputation, status, age, etc.
Watershed in its early years was about as grass roots as you could get: a group of artists and a small board of directors figuring it all out.
And it has worked. The growth has been organic, uneven and amazing, particularly amazing in the last decade. Fran (Rudoff, executive director) has worked wonders – along with a very dedicated staff and board. In no way did we envision the specifics of Watershed’s programming today in the fall of 1986, but we knew something significant could happen. And it has, by putting one collective foot in front of the other for all these years, never giving up on the ideas and potential.”

NEXT STEPS

Hopefully you’ve read to the end of this long blog post. And either learned about a new place in Maine or reminisced about your own experience(s) at Watershed. It’s a beautiful gem where thousands have traveled to, learned, and left with a full heart. When I think about the co-founders (in their 30’s at the time) who were brave enough to take a chance, I am reminded of Vincent van Gogh’s words: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything…”

I am grateful for the help Watershed’s Outreach & Communication Director, Claire Brassil provided in putting together this blog post. As for the future of Watershed, Claire’s thoughts below:

In the spring, we celebrated the building’s completion and collectively reoriented after such a rapid metamorphosis. The studio can contain any program we dream up. But … how will Watershed’s limitless future take shape? As an organization known for its scrappy rough edges, what will it mean to nurture the best parts of our original identity while making the most of our shiny new vessel? These coming-of-age throes find us wrestling with invigorating yet challenging questions of who we’ve been and who we want to become.

The shape and scope of Watershed’s next chapter will begin to emerge over the coming year. I feel confident that my colleagues, the board, and our greater community share a collective passion for refining and growing this unique place. Watershed is a quantifiable physical space: 54 acres, 7,500 square feet of studio space, 31 dining room chairs, 15 bedrooms, 11 kilns, and one gallery. But in an equally real sense, we are an experience, an idea, and a respite during an era when few places affirm that creative practice and artists matter.”  

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Reflecting and Listening

January 15, 2022

Taking time to process and remember over time

A lot has been said about education and educators since the pandemic started in March of 2020. During the earlier months educators were the heroes. People began to realize the value of teachers. I read on a facebook post by a teacher this week that she wished to return to the early days of the pandemic when teachers were appreciated. When parents, especially parents, realized how challenging teaching is and how critical the teacher was to their child. We all know that doesn’t just refer to the ‘teaching’ part of a teachers day but the support teachers give to social and emotional learning, and so many other pieces that teachers teach individual students.

This morning I listened to a 6th grade student from Georgia on public radio say that her mother gave her a journal recently to document her stories of the pandemic. She only wished she had started writing at the beginning of the pandemic because she’s forgetting how she felt and what happened during those earlier days.

As we know time seems to race faster as the years go by. I’m sure some of you can relate to the 6th grader. Those of you that wear both hats – juggling teaching and parenting, in many cases, handled even more than usual.

What did you try during the early days of remoteness that you felt was a disaster and what actually turned into a success? In the spring of 2020 I remember gathering on zoom each morning with my middle schoolers for ‘breakfast club’. Students had a chance to connect with each other and their teachers. They ate, laughed, and connected in ways unmeasurable. It was optional but almost every student was there almost every day. It helped them to remember the importance of connecting and communicating in a ‘non-learning’ way. Let’s face it, we know how important it is for many to connect, not because we have to but because we want to.

Here are a few questions to help you sort your role as teachers during the pandemic. Answer the questions by writing or an art creation (movement, acting, musically, visual art, poetry):

  • What have you learned earlier in the pandemic that you continue to apply?
  • As things got turned on their head, what did you try that you found was successful or a complete failure?
  • What were the points in time that caused you to pivot?
  • Name what you felt when teachers were being referred to on a daily basis as ‘heroes’?
  • Make a list of what you want to remember from the pandemic as a teacher; the positives, and the challenges?
  • Select a quote that you can identify with in your role as a teacher. Make it large and post it (at home or at school) and use it as motivation and a remembrance that what you’re doing is amazing, every day!

Compile a list of quotes from the amazing work teachers are doing that are helpful in keeping your spirits up and remembering: whatever you’re doing is enough!! I can’t say that enough.

bell hooks, September 25, 1952 – December 15, 2021

As we start another calendar year and head towards two full years of living in a world-wide pandemic here are thoughts and what’s been learned from teacher leaders; on teaching, adapting, pivoting, and noticing students to help them do their best at learning.

A HUGE THANK YOU to Rob Westerberg, Anthony Lufkin, and Iva Damon for going above and beyond and sending their thoughts. Valuable information from Maine Arts Educators. You’re invited to share your thoughts. Please post at the bottom or email them to me at meartsed@gmail.com and I will update this post.

What are your ah-ha moments in teaching this year? What’s most important to you?

  • Two things have helped me pretty profoundly. The first is staying hyper organized. I tend to lean that way ordinarily, but by always staying a step or two ahead of everything that needs to be done, it has helped to relieve a LOT of stress and peripheral distractions from my school day and my interactions with classes/students. The other thing is treating each individual school day as its own mountain climb… I climb a different mountain every day. Consequently at the end of the day I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment. Some climbs are easy, others hard. But either way I leave school feeling very proud and, honestly, very happy. It has helped me keep my focus off of what I cannot control, and instead on the most important things in my professional life: the students. In some ways I already feel like 2021-2022 is the best professional self I have ever been. ~Rob
  • Students are so excited to be back in the classroom. It is why I love teaching. The privilege to provide the space to have students learn and explore what they are capable of doing is why I love going in every day. It’s also so important to remember to remember what is within one’s control and what isn’t. A new technique I learned was to think of oneself as a river, it’s okay to have things flow in, but allow them to continue to flow on and not hold onto what isn’t healthy or supportive to you.~Iva

Do you have any techniques/daily rituals/helpful hints for others that help you and your students focus?

  • Every start of every class, every day: I prompt the students to show me fingers, 5 means “I’m doing amazing”, 1 means “I shoulda stayed in bed…”. I look them over and it’s a conversation starter for me, reacting to what they are showing. If someone’s a 1 or a 2 I may ask, “School or stuff or both?” I certainly don’t need to know more than that, but even that response can lead to other discussions as a class (strategies for dealing with stress, compartmentalizing home stuff and school stuff, being a teenager in the 21st Century or even specific things). It also allows me to provide empathetic stories in my own experience if the situation fits. After we’ve done that, I have the class itinerary on the board, talk them through it, and off we go. The students have expressed directly to me how much they deeply appreciate this. They know it’s not just a quick tack on, that I truly care. EVERY teacher truly cares, but we don’t always have a platform to empathize in real time with our kids. This allows me to do so. It’s amazing how much this one piece – even over just a few minutes – centers and focuses my kids as we prepare to work together. For some the effect lasts the rest of their school day. It’s made a difference for me too. ~Rob
  • I have been using walks as a transition to class. We have been starting each class by doing a loop around the building outside. It has been a great opportunity to informally check-in with students, how their day is going, and makes for a more seamless transition for class to begin when we return inside. ~Iva
  • The structure of my art classes has changed a lot for me over time, significantly with the adaptations need to cope with the pandemic, but also as I develop a better understanding of learning processes, and gain more experience teaching art.  Creating a studio mindset is something that I have worked to achieve, while still maintaining the structural instructional practices needed to develop new skills and understanding.

Working at the elementary level, time is always an issue with one of the biggest inhibitors I have found being the way schedules are set up. Because of the limited time available, I have really had to focus on what is important, and what can be discarded. There are a few strategies that I have implemented that while I had concerns about them taking away from instructional or production time at first, I have found to be invaluable.  

One process that a colleague shared with me is something called a “silent doodle”. This is a little piece of paper on the student’s desk when them come it that they “warm up” with when they first some into class.  The primary reason for implementing this was to help them settle in after a transition, and give me time to get things ready (especially when I did have not time between classes). What I have found though, is that this becomes an amazing creative outlet, and a form of reflection where they often draw images using the skills we have worked on in class. We only spend 2-3 minutes on this, and so while it takes that time, when they are done, they are ready for instruction and creation.  

Another process I have implemented in many classes that I got from some of the collaborative projects I have done with the Farnsworth Art Museum Educational Program, is a quick noticing activity using visual thinking skills. We do what we call an I see…I think… I wonder critique of an artwork. A few times a week at the beginning of class I portray an artwork, sometimes relevant to our project but often not, that we spend a few minutes looking at. I have students raise their hands to tell me what they see in the picture, things like colors, shapes, objects, etc. I then ask for what they think the art work is supposed to show or mean, or why it was created based on those observations. Finally, I ask what else they wonder about the artwork based on what they have seen and what they think. I usually fill them in with a little information about the art and artist, but it is brief, intended to help them realize that there are not always answers to some of those questions. This again takes a few minutes, usually 5 minutes or so, but has created the framework for looking more critically at art, and developing ways to talk about one another’s work using effective constructive criticism. 

The speed of which  I go through instructions, and the modeling of techniques are also significant components to giving students adequate time to work on their projects. Having lots of examples including student examples in progress and completed are also key contributors to helping students understand the steps and processes we are working on. One of the areas I struggle with is giving students the opportunity to “complete” projects. I have the mind set of ‘process over product’, focusing on giving them as many opportunities to try new techniques and mediums as possible. I understand that this can be very frustrating for students who are more methodical in their approach so that balance between finishing and moving on is one I am constantly adjusting.  

While there are many other small factors in my teaching approach that contribute to my teaching “style”, one of the other structural features I have been trying to incorporate more is the use of choice for students. While some of them are adaptive choices, many of them are simply an alternative. For example, I have had a 3D printer donated to our program by the Perloff Family, and have been using some cad programming in my projects. Giving students the option of using 3D printing versus clay, allows those with tactile discomfort, the opportunity to express their ideas in a different form. I still make sure they experience the nature of clay in other projects, but by having some choice, even with miniscule differences, has made a big difference in student motivation. ~Anthony

Now that we’re in the second year of the pandemic; please share what you’ve noticed about students and how they’re adapting to the challenges?

  • My students have never been more grateful for the things we often took for granted pre-pandemic. There is an excitement around rehearsals and classes that is almost tangible, because the kids really missed it. They are struggling too… back in school full time, singing with masks on, social/emotional issues that continue from this past year, but their gratitude seems more overt and embedded in what they do in my classes. I think that gratitude has helped them to move forward even as it remains a challenge. ~Rob
  • They need space to talk through their concerns, hopes, and have adult models to help them establish healthy tools to cope with their new world they are a part of. Students are the most resilient and have been able to bounce with the extreme changes that keep coming their way, but time to stop and reflect is so very important. ~Iva

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