Arts Reveal Night

18 10 2015

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Bravo and take a bow! My super six artists owned the evening with the reveal of their thoughts, talents, and ideas. What started as a passing thought that I had to help bolster a few students and the new choice based studio, turned into an event that will be repeated several times this coming school year.

Here is the back stage story.

I had this idea early in the quarter for this event. I wanted to share what I was seeing, reading, and hearing from my artists in the studio. I was moved by the deep connection many of my artists had made to the Themes and how they utilized the Artistic Targets to help guide them to make decisions for the path of their work. The individual Artist Proposals and the Blendspace links had content that was interesting and the documentation of their progress was impressive. Problem was I was the only one who saw this entire piece happening. All most people saw was the finished artwork. The viewers rarely had conservation with the artist about the work of art. My artists rarely, if ever shared the meaning behind the work of art. What a shame. So much more is to be appreciated about the work when you see the whole process.

PROCESS is the most valuable part of creating art.

I have based my whole teaching career on the process. I LOVE the process and I am sad when the end of the piece arrives because the creating is over. All that is left is to display the work for others to view and judge. The connection to the making of the piece is gone. Until you begin the process of designing and creating a new work of art.

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One artist had to leave early to go win a volleyball game.

So one month earlier, I either tapped a few artists or they volunteered to present. My brave pioneers- the SUPER SIX! All of the artists did different types of media and different themes. Most importantly they all had different amounts of experience.   I wanted a spectrum of artists, not just my Senior Artists and not only the very gifted. I wanted artists who have been creating in my studio and had something to say.

I knew of a passionate and talented Broadcast student so I asked him if he wanted to join me on this unique event and film it? He said YES! This young producer gathered his best crew and filled the library with equipment to film the best angles and record the best sound from the evening. I feel blessed to have such great young people who want to expand their own skill set and experience to accomplish something bigger than them. I will provide the link when the produced piece is available.

After teaching non-stop studio classes, an Art Club meeting, and my morning duty. I was able to get all of the necessary materials collected to fill the library to transform it into a stage for our artists to speak to an audience.

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The evening before I painted a few banners with one of the artists and created a few photo booth props. You have to provide those social media photo opportunities. We hung the banner above the library doors so it greeted everyone the next day. I wanted to have students see that something special is going to happen.

After the last class was dismissed the same dedicated artist helped me move all the props and materials to the library. Down in the library a few more students volunteered to give me a hand. So I put them to work.

We rearranged the furniture, set up the white backdrop and lights pulled up the podium, big TV screen, and rolled out the red carpet. Next, were the flowers, setting up the homemade cookies with tea and coffee. (I had three of the presenting artists at my home to bake all the delicious cookies) We added a red velvet rope to the entrance and set up the photo booth area.

I set my computer up to cycle a PowerPoint with music showing all kinds of #Artists Hands for the early arrivals.

Soon my artists arrived all dressed up and a little nervous. They soon calmed down when the music started and they could see their artwork surrounding the area. We set up special seating for the artists on deck so they would be comfortable and could see and support the other speakers.

The audience trickled in slowly while we got our Broadcast team assembled, lights and cameras aimed at our presenters. I queued up a few of the student’s presentations and assured myself that a few technology glitches will happen just go with it. I was nervous too but I needed to be in control and focused on helping my artists give a good presentation.

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The night before the Arts Reveal Night I was up a few times with fear that my artists would flop or worse not do it. Then I dreamed that the technology just wouldn’t work and all the artists’ presentations would be unavailable or worst yet…the audience would not appreciate the event.

I was so wrong on so many levels. My artists looked polished, engaged the audience, prepared a great presentation, spoke from their hearts, and made a deep connection with the audience. The audience was so appreciative of the artist’s messages and powerful voices. The passion my artists shared was goose bump worthy. The kind words and care my students expressed about the support and hard work I give to them each day was evident. I was touched because it wasn’t necessary.

The parents beamed with pride and they should! What brave artists!

Needless to say I was exhausted, my feet throbbed, and I was so happy. I came home and was so tired but my mind was racing. I did fall to sleep to wake up at 2AM to rewind the event in my head. I was so thrilled. That feeling was not mine alone. As soon as I got to school I was greeted with kind emails from parents and happy artists. I was told that they felt so validated and proud of what they did. They couldn’t believe they did it but they are so glad they did. In fact several want to do it again. Imagine that…THEY WANT to PRESENT to an audience! One of my artist said her parents could not stop telling her all night how proud they were of her. I could see it in her eyes that a new door opened and she wanted it opened. In fact I feel she kicked it off the doorframe the night before and the door won’t ever be shut again.

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We need to model and provide our artists the opportunity to share their passions, ideas, and thoughts. It is such an important and necessary part of their growth.

Did it elevate my artists? YES

Did my artists feel supported and encouraged? YES

Was I nervous trying something new and different? YES

That is never a reason NOT to do it.

I am so glad I stuck with my gut.

I knew I could make this happen and I knew my artists could hold their own

and speak from their hearts and to share it with an audience.

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Trying something new.

12 10 2015

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This is the year to stick my neck out a bit more and to challenge my artists and myself to strive for a clearer voice.  With the new choice based studio launched and a few months under my belt managing the new system it is time to evaluate the progress.  It is grading time and I have been reading my students evaluations and reviewing the documentation on blendspace links.  It has been an eye opener for me to see what my students want to express.  This week we will host what I hope will be a new series of artist talks on campus.  I am calling it Arts Reveal Night and it is happening this Thursday featuring six talented and creative artists.  All of them have a range of experiences and points of view.  Some of the students have been with me for four years and one for only a few months.  It will be interesting to see how they choose to express themselves and discuss their own artistic journey.

Art Reveal Night invite  copy

I had three of the students over on Sunday to bake cookies to serve at our event.  We made shortbread cookies drizzled with chocolate, caramel, and lemon flavored glaze.  We cut the cookies into shapes for the Fall season including leaves, acorns, and pumpkins.  I am also the Culinary Arts advisor so having baking be a part of the event is not a huge stretch for me and it served as a great bonding experience for me and for the artists.  The house smelled amazing and the cookies are works of art.  Of course a few broke so we had to taste them and they are very tasty.  One of my artists is learning how to throw on the wheel so she will be serving tea with her tea bowls.  We have two teapots to finish up before Thursday but we think it will all get done.  The evening will be a mix of students adding their talents to make the evening a success.  I have bright and talented Broadcast students who will be recording and producing the art talk.

The bottom line is we are stepping out and striving to expand and that is the most important part of the evening.  I can say I am a little nervous but that’s always a good thing.  I will post images and the link to the Arts Reveal Night when it is all completed.

Choice Based Studio Copy

Grading…grrrr.  It is a necessary element of the teacher’s life but not a favorite.  I am navigating between my spreadsheets and the individual students blendspace links to get a complete reflection of the process to then write a written evaluation for the artist to review.  It is a time consuming process but I learn a lot from the process. Including what I can do to support my artist’s experiences and how I can challenge them further down the line.

There has been a lot of discussion about the students who struggle with the open studio format vs. the teacher directed studio.  I have experienced similar behaviors from a few of my students too.  I have students who are frozen as to what to do.  I provide a variety of online exemplars and resources but some students still need a nudge to get started.  It is not many but they do exist and as the educator you need to decide what will work best for each student to get them moving.  I have paired some students together to work side by side to motivate them, I have set up a specific challenge for the artist to tackle with materials they already feel comfortable work with, and I have helped them select media or themes to branch off past successes from the studio experiences.  It is not an easy task if you are striving not to be so directive.  I still feel at times that I need to get in there and just propose a project but I am pulling back and letting the student struggle, think, play, and experiment without too much pressure.  The amount of time you let each student stay in this cycle is hard to measure.  At times, I feel the student is not focused enough and needs a push and other times, I feel I need to let it follow a natural pace.

It often feels like a crazy fast paced space that could benefit from a second art instructor and other times it is an easy beautiful flow of artistic movement.  No two classes are the same and day-to-day it changes.

Anna F landscape

I have been following discussions on Twitter and on the Art Teachers forum about TAB and choice based studios.  I have also been reading the different ideas and philosophies from a variety of educators from a wide range of experiences.  I feel for the educators who feel pressured or in a “free fall” of how to understand or process the information out there.  It would be so confusing to me too if I wasn’t in the middle of it and had years of experience.  I caution anyone not to adopt a program or system that someone else has designed.  I feel you need to know what are your own strengths and what is your community culture.  Don’t feel you need to flip the whole show and jump in.  It’s okay to wade in and sample bits and pieces.  I think most of you will know what was successful and maybe you will be able to build a better program from what you experience.  I don’t like it when too many labels or others judge when they don’t have a full grasp of a particular art teacher’s environment.  I believe we are striving to serve of field of art education the best we can and it takes time to navigate through it all.  So take stock in what you are doing well and push into new directions but don’t do it all in one big step.  YOU need to feel confident and your confidence will carry your studio to where you would like it to be as an art educator.








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