It all happened one stormy night

29 04 2014

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Curbside Couture 2014 is an event we work all year to prepare to showcase our recycled fashion designs.  This is a labor of love for all of my students and for me.  The work to create the garments take almost the entire school year.  We work on weekends and after school.   Students explore all kinds of materials, gather supplies, and go through the process of trial and error.  We work as a group, pushing one another’s ideas, and challenging each other to create more original designs.

The models are an integral part of the experience and benefit from the experience as well.  The garments are created to fit a specific model and the designer is sensitive to the models body type and preferences of length, shape, etc.  The designer creates a whole concept for the design with hair, make up, shoes, the walk, everything.

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We are reviving the craft of sewing and adults in the students lives are supportive by providing sewing machines, helpful tips, and keeping eye out for recycled materials.  Everyone in my school collected requested materials for the students.  The support is amazing.  The day started with rehearsal at 2:00PM after a night at Prom, so I had a few tired students, but everyone was ready for rehearsal.  The excitement slowly was building all day.  Unfortunately the weather was predicting severe weather so it added a little drama to the day and night.  After we practiced on the runway and got gift bags from the show sponsors we set off for our school art studio.  I planned ahead to provide a meal between the rehearsal and the runway show.  We use the few hours inbetween the show and rehearsal, to work on hair and make-up. Plus a few pep talks and runway walk instructions.  I arrived at school and my parents had everything ready.  We had sandwiches, fruit, chips and dip, soda, water, and chocolates.  I already set up mirrors on easels for easy make-up application and plenty of outlets for curling irons.

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We had to head back to the Great Hall in the Clinton Presidential Library to get our garments on for the show.  This is always a hectic time for everyone.  Wardrobe malfunctions do happen so I have hot glue, pins, duct tape, and I am ready to do damage control.  This year with 23 garments to get ready for the runway in a short amount of time it required I enlist a parent.  Lucky for me I have a parent who is also an art teacher to help me out.  This was great….for the first time I had twice the amount of hands.  What a relief.

My students all lined up and looked great.  I looked at all of them smiling, fidgeting, and ready.  I did not really see the whole group in one place at the same time before.  It was impressive.  So many expressions of design and beautiful happy children.  I swear I could have cried but no time for that we have a runway to do.

Off they go and I sit among the designers in our seats for the show.  I designed two special garments for two of my students who wanted to participate.  One female and one male.  I was so happy they liked what I created for them and they were so excited to participate.

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The show started and within a few minutes the emergency sirens went off and we had to empty the Great Hall for the basement.  Over 350 guests and all the students- Yikes!  It went smoothly and everyone was calm.  Within 30 minutes the show began again.  The short 30 minutes seems to fuel my students who were previously nervous, into determined models.   The students owned the runway walking with confidence and pride in the outfits they wore.  My designers beamed and soaked up the applause.

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Only five awards were given for the designers and my students won four!  I am so proud of them.

The following designers were awarded cash awards: Colin Clemmons received  The Singer Creativity Award $250.00, Celeste Jennings 4rd $200.00, Lily Warren 3rd $300.00,  and Jade Pfeifer 1st $500.00.  Riley Blair the runway backdrop artist received a gift bag and praise.

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It was over too quickly and seemed to be only a dream.  

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Studio Time is the Best Time

7 04 2014

Landed in Little Rock around 11:00 PM and I was wiped out.  The National Art Convention was great but a marathon with early morning sessions and loads of miles to almost run to attend all the selected sessions was a challenge.  You add in the time zone difference and it totals up to bring me coffee and tape to keep me awake!!

I wake up on time to get to the morning commute on to heavy traffic and of course someone caused an accident to make the backup worse.  This was not the homecoming I was looking forward to.

I pull into school, park in my usual spot, and pull out of the back of my car my computer, purse, and school bag.  I’m still tired and I had not had a cup of coffee yet.  Then all of the sudden to my right as I pass the carpool drop off, a huge squeal from a car was heard.  It was one of my students and she almost blew out her Dad’s eardrum from her enthusiasm to seeing me back at school.  Her Dad rolled down the window and said, “I guess you’ve been missed!” and he smiled.  I was only gone one day and of course Spring Break the week before.  My art student bounced out of the car and helped to carry my bags to the studio, the whole time telling me all about what a week she had and how she could not wait until I got back.  I go to the second floor to my studio and I see six of my artists waiting for me.  They ran to greet me and give me hugs.  In the center of my desk is a chocolate candy on a stick in a shape of a paintbrush from New Orleans, a place one of my other artists’ visited over Spring Break.  My studio was a buzz of excitement of everyone trying to get my attention and to share with me all that I missed in their lives since I saw them a week ago.  I was so incredibly happy to be back in my studio and looking and listening to the chatter of my artists.  I belong here, I belong with these students, they need me, and I need them.  I am so fortunate to have found a place where all that I put into my students; I get out of them as well. Spring 2

My schedule was a full one and in every class and in the hallways students remarked they missed me and asked how was my trip.  Our deadline for turning in our garments was the next day but a photo shoot was set for the end of the day, lots of last minute finishing was going on in the studio all day.  My art studio looked more like a closet or a recycle bin but the studio was humming along like nothing was in the way.  My students adapt to all the crazy activities I host and the commotion actually makes my studio the place to be so I am okay with that.  I have students popping in all day long to check in with me on all the latest stuff going on in sports, news, school, or just a new haircut.  There is a lot of trust, kindness, affection, and admiration in my studio.  It is a feel good place and expectations are high.  Is everyone achieving at the same level all the time?  Of course not, it’s a high school and I teach teenagers.  But I must say the relationships are healthy between my artists and me.  It’s about teaching art but it’s also about building up young adults.  There has to be expectations, benchmarks, celebrations, accountability, and lots of humor.Image

This weekend was the first weekend in a long time I was able to stay at home, in my house.  I did very little…well in perspective of my life…if you understand my life.   I did catch up on sleep and that was the most important part of my weekend.  I am able to reflect on my past two weeks and plan out the next three without feeling sleepy.  I accomplished a lot this week, one student Award for a Fashion Scholarship, a nice letter from Bill Clinton for our work to support Haiti, a gift from Indonesia with supplies for a batik project, all of our garments have been sent off for the Recycle Runway Show, and I completed an interview for Little Rock Family magazine on all the Service Learning work I do with my students.  I have Congressional works to submit this week and our big State Art Convention and Contest coming up next.  Finally our big Curbside Couture Fashion Runway Show…it’s going to be amazing.

My life is a wild ride but I the rewards far exceed any of the dips in the road.





Reflections of the National Art Convention

3 04 2014

Wow! My feet could not get me to all the sessions I wanted to attend, but I did enjoy the ones I was able to squeeze into my busy schedule. San Diego is beautiful and my anticipation of presenting was sent to the back of my mind for one day. I reconnected with teachers from my old school, met up with dear friends on my PLN, and I was able to gleen knowledge to fuel my art teaching philosophy. One observation I made after I already selected my sessions on the Spark App. was, I was either in the Advocacy realm or Research. Interesting?! but not surprising.
Sunday was the Art 2.0 meet up or Tweet up and it was great to see so many faces connected to people who I follow, tweet, or read their blogs. I also love that Davis Publications supported our gathering with great Starbucks coffee. Much appreciated by the art educators who do not often get such nice perks. The photo of all of us in our PLN shirts was twice the size from the previous year. And this leads me to my big “take away” as Craig Roland put it. We need to continue to do more to reach out and include more art educators. We are a unique and talented group that serves the biggest variety of students. We juggle and problem solve all day long, and into the night, we create something wonderful, thought provoking out of nothing. We make garbage beautiful, we put smiles, hope, and purpose, on so many faces during our regular day. We need to do the same for each other. Children are in the center of what we are doing…not our egos, endorsements, twitter followers, or accessories. It’s about elevating art education, connecting what we do in the studio to real life applications. We are the makers of change and we need each other to keep us on our path. I’ve never been big on cliques and I want everyone to know they have valued. As I observed the group of us, I noticed people watching. I wanted them to feel welcomed.

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It’s a part of who I am…I cannot turn it off. I look, I see, I observe. I pull from my observations as much as I do my conversations. Samantha Melvin and I had the best conversation at the airport for the trip home. We both were exhausted and our minds wandered to our classrooms and our students. I know she is a fighter for her students and a advocate for art education so I loved our visit. We discussed real issues we face with our programs, community, but also our successes and opportunities. I have a feeling if we worked in the same place we could do some real damage. It’s always about the students. How we do our jobs may vary, how our studios look, our budgets, and our programming may all vary but placing children in the center should never change.








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