Sunday, March 20, 2016

Reflections from an Art Education Blogger

See all those smiling faces in the photo?  Everyone in this picture is a blog author.  This is just a small chunk of all the amazing art educators who share their expertise on their own personal blogs.  This picture was taken during the Art of Education's Blogger Meet and Greet during the National Art Education Association's 2016 convention in Chicago.  Some of the faces you may recognize, but these are the many faces behind blogs that you may be familiar with!

I've heard many times throughout the convention from attendees that it was awesome to place "a face to the name."  Once they hear the blog name, their faces lit up as if they were meeting celebrities.

"Oh my Gosh!  That's Cassie Stephens!"

"There's a Dragon in the Art Room???  I LOVE that blog!!!"

"So you're Art is Basic!  I use your lessons all the time!!!"

"Mini Matisse?  I've learned so much from her!!!"

"No Corner Suns?  I LOVE that name! I love the lessons!!"

The Art of Education have been hosting the Blogger Meet and Greet for a few years now and this is the first one I've been able to be a part of.  It was so inspiring to be around so many art educators who love to share their passion as much as I do.   With being around so many inspiring faces, I wanted to share a little encouragement for those of you considering on starting your own blog, website, or entering into the blog and social media atmosphere.

We are all just like you: first year teachers, early professionals, veterans, and retired art educators.

Even though we may be leaders in our field, we still work everyday just like you.  We are all hardworking professionals, moms, dads, grandparents, artists, and ambassadors.  Yes, we do need our sleep as well! Not one blogger acts above their station.  We love meeting other educators and bouncing ideas from one another.

We share what we learn, and we learn from sharing.

Just because we bloggers are sharing our opinions and ideas, it does not mean we set our standards in stone.  When I find a method that works in my classes, I love sharing to see if my method works for others.  From sharing my ideas with this blog, I have in return learned so much from others who teach in similar situations and I continue to adapt my practice to refine my skills as an art educator.  As the great Michelangelo had said...

I am still learning.

Many times I've shared methods that have worked in the past in many situations, but have not in others.  As educators, we are constantly adapting to our surroundings and trying to find what works best in our situations.  I am grateful to know many other bloggers have so many inspiring ideas that I can try out for my students.

We encourage you to take the next step.

Starting your own blog may be scary, but if you take that first step in creating your own, you will never regret it.  Having a blog is not only a great resource for others, but it documents your own growth as well.  It also works as a great tool to provide evidence for teacher evaluations, especially in reflecting on your own practice as an educator.  You are also not required to post at specific times! Every blogger has their own life to live; kids to raise, personal activities to attend to, as more.  Posting at your own pace is perfectly fine!

If you are interested in starting your own blog or website, I encourage you to check out this post from Edutopia to help you get started!

Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Follow the 2016 NAEA Convention from Home

The NAEA 2016 convention will be taking place this year in Chicago, Illinois from March 17-19. For the past two years, I was unable to attend the annual convention and I sat on the sidelines reading Facebook and twitter posts on all the fun activities I could not attend. This year, the convention is in my home city and I am totally excited to finally attend again!  

For the past few years, I've shared ways for those who could not attend to follow the convention and still have takeaways from your own home.  Even though many are stuck at home, there are still ways to keep up with the national convention.  Thanks to the awesome superpowers of social media, live streaming, and online resources, we can keep up with our professional development the best way we can!  

#1 Twitter

If you follow #NAEA16 on twitter, you can see all the posts from the many art teachers attending the conference.  They will be adding photos, details, and online links to help followers catch a glimpse of what will be happening during the convention and what they have learned from their experiences.  There will even be  "Tweet-Ups," where you can see the fellow tweeters in this year's shirt design of popular landmarks of Chicago!  Can you name them all?

Look out for the following hashtags to view the convention on Twitter or Instagram:


#2 Watch for Articles from the Art of Education

The Art of Ed will be in Chicago!  They will be posting articles with the sights and sounds throughout the convention on their site and through social media.  Please visit The Art of Education to view their updates!

#3 Download the NAEA Chicago 2016 App for Your Phone or Tablet

So you can't go to the convention, but did you know that many presenters will have their resources within the app?  In the past few years, I did notice that presentation handouts were available depending on the presentation through the app.  Maybe this year?  Just go ahead and download it from your app store or google play to view what resources are available!

#4 Follow the #NAEA16 Tagboard

NAEA's tagboard is the quickest way to gather all the #NAEA16 tags from different sites.  Just go to to view all the posts and follow what's happening!

If you're staying home this year and you know other ways to stay involved from the comforts of your computer, let me know how you plan on following the convention!  

#5 Make a Flat "Art Teacher"

When I missed my first convention in San Diego, a dear friend took a "Flat Heidi" around the convention and took pictures with all my friends and colleagues in attendance!  If you have a friend who's attending, but you can't go, consider asking them to take around your "Flat Art Teacher!"  It's like you're there in spirit, and you have great photos for memories!

If you were not able to attend #NAEA16 in Chicago this go-around, we hope to see you in NYC in 2017!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Art Gems to Visit in Chicago

So you're at the NAEA convention in Chicago, and you have some down time.  What is there to do?

I've collected a list of artsy places you can visit around Chicago that are either free or inexpensive.  If you're an art history nerd like me, I'm hoping you get a chance to visit some of these places while you're in town!

If you walk along Lake Michigan for a few miles, you'll come across Navy Pier, which stretches into the lake.  In the big complex, there's the Chicago Children's Museum, a ton of little shops, an IMAX movie theater, beautiful gardens, and the stained glass collection that stretches the length of the building.  It's free to walk in and view all the amazing glasswork!

Update:  I just came across this article dated from September 26, 2014.  It states that this stained glass gem was taken down, but you can still find random pieces throughout the museum.  (Insert sad face)  I was there a few years ago and I'm shocked that this has disappeared.

(And in case you're wondering about the ferris wheel missing, Navy Pier's designing a new one that will be an ode to the Chicago World's Fair, coming soon!)

Graceland is home to many famous names in Chicago, from Pullman, McCormick, Palmer, and one of our legendary artists and architects, Louis Sullivan.

Louis was known as the father of skyscrapers as well as modernism.  After the Chicago fire of 1871, architects were in high demand.  In 1879, Louis joined with Dankmar Adler is designing over 200 residential, commercial, religious, and multi-use buildings in the midwest area.  If you walk down State Street heading north, you'll come across the old Carson Pirie Scott building, which displays many of Sullivan's highly decorated designs around the building.

Another well-known monument in Graceland is this mysterious statue named "Eternal Silence" by the sculptor Lorado Taft.  The sculpture is a monument to Dexter Graves, who led a group of families moving to Chicago from Ohio in 1831.  Lorado's sculptures are also all around Chicago, so you may catch his stoneworks and bronze masterpieces walking down the street in the loop area!

The Chicago Cultural Center hosts a number of exhibitions throughout the year.  If you'd like to see what 's happening during conference time, click here for the list of events!  The Cultural Center offers FREE events all year round, and it's a few blocks north of the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Ave.

One of the exhibits at the Cultural Center is Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen.  I totally want to check this out myself!

Thank you to Theresa McGee for the photos of the event at the Cultural Center!

Down the street on Michigan Ave. (north from the Hilton), there's Millennium Park, which is loaded with an array of art and architecture.  One of the most recognized sculptures in the park is Cloud Gate by the artist Anish Kapoor, which reflects the city skyline.  Please click here for a list of artwork and architecture located in the park!

Crown Fountain was designed by the artist Jaume Piensa, which is made of two 50 ft tall block towers on each end of a shallow pool of water.  The website state that the water is in operation in mid-Spring, so I do not believe the full effects of the artwork can be viewed during the convention, but if you visit in summertime, it's totally interactive!

Wabash Lights is a public art project that adds shots of color to the underside of the "L" tracks downtown.  Twelve rods of LED lights were installed beneath a small patch of the tracks on Wabash Ave.  
If you're interested in meeting the artists of Wabash Lights during the convention, click here for the Facebook invitation!

The news was shared on the Facebook group!  There is a Van Gogh Bedroom exhibit taking place at the Art Institute of Chicago during convention time!  Not only can we get into the Art Institute for free, but we can also get into the Van Gogh exhibit for free!!!!  Make sure you bring your conference badge!

The current exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art is Pop Art Design.  The MCA is straight up Michigan Ave. and a bit of a hike, so put on your walking shoes and make the trip!

There are so many museums to visit in Chicago and it would take me too long to list them all, but Wikipedia gathered the list for me!  There's the Museum of Contemporary Photography, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Veterans Art Museum, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Smart Museum of Art, and so much more!  If you click this link, you will be given the total list of museums to visit in the city, along with their links for details.

See the red lines in the above picture?  The streets highlighted a filled with gallery after gallery of artwork and exhibition space.  On warm Friday nights, it's a blast to walk from one space to another to view the local artists in the area!  I feel this spot is a true art gem of Chicago...the diamond in the rough!  Make sure you click on the above link to view the list of galleries in the district!

Artist Jim Bachor creates mosaics of ice cream sandwiches, tulips, and logo designs from high-end brands like Gucci and Burberry. And he puts them in potholes.  Yes, our city is filled with them, which gives an open canvas for Jim to fill with mosaic tile art!

Here is a recent article shared about Bachor's art in the streets of Chicago.  There's also a map in his website that gives the spots where you can find the mosaic spots in the streets!

Please click here for the addresses and map of where Jim had created his mosaic pothole creations!

Interested in seeing more than just art?  Here's two links that list tons of restaurants, eateries, book stores, and shows that are must-sees when in the windy city!

More Hidden Art Gems in Chicago