Monday, July 23, 2012

Bringing Artists to the Classroom

My students get totally excited when I tell them I know quite a few working artists.  When I tell them that they know one already, they say, "who?"  Then I show them the work that I do and they have that jaw-dropping look again.  Moral of my story is, show your students you know more than what you teach!  Since I create outside of the classroom, I've met many great artists in the field, and they always say they are more than willing to share their work with the students.

As a traveling art blog, I want to share that this is an idea that can promote your work in the schools.  Students see that art is a valid career after school, and they can follow their dreams.

Invite an Artist in the Community.  If you know someone personally that lives in the community or have heard of a local artist, invite them to the school to talk in your room (or room to room on a cart).  Make sure to approve the visit with the administrator first...they may want to have an all school assembly!

Communicate by Mail!  If you are unable to invite the artist to the school, consider sending letters or emails.  For example, I communicated with a  friend of mine, Terry Border, who is known for his Bent Objects (visit for more information).  You may not have heard of his name, but if you've seen this image in Target in the cards section, you've seen his work!

I contacted Terry and asked if I could do an after school art project inspired by his Bent Objects.  After he gave permission, I shared his work with my students, and they went to work making their own little sculptures.  Here are some of the results:

At the end of the project, I shared my students' work with the artist, and he was so happy to see that students created their own artworks inspired by his work!  He then mailed an autographed poster that hangs in the art room still.

Create an Online Chat.  I recently had the joy of having an artist friend of mine, Cliff Roth, communicate via Google+ hangout with my 5th grade students.  I used this idea as an after school art project to introduce caricature art to my students.  Cliff Roth is now a famous Google+ artist, known for his "Speedpaint Hangouts."  Cliff arranges the hangouts to help him create portraits within a short span of time, helping him refine his digital drawing skills and sharing his work with others.  You can view some articles and interviews here:

Cliff and I arranged a time to set up the live hangout on Google+ after the school day had ended.  I set up my laptop, projector, and speakers, and made sure the technology department was aware of the arrangement (our tech guy even sat in on the interview!)  I had the students ask questions to Cliff about caricature art and how to create a caricature, all while watching Cliff create a drawing of the school principal!

When we finished the interview, students were paired up to draw portraits of each other.  In the end, we took a group picture with our work and mailed Cliff a huge thank you card for talking with the students!

Just remember know matter how you bring the artist to the room, make sure you and the students thank them!

If you have another way to bring the artist to the room, please share in the comments!  You can also use Skype if it's available in your district!

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