We shared a moment visiting Dr. Laura Gardner‘s Art Education class, Principles of Teaching Art, and interviewing her students: Allyson Butler, Ember Estridge, Lydia Fraser, Melissa Littlejohn, Sarah Walker, Katherine Ware, and Laura Zellmer. They have an upcoming show entitled “And Away We Grow” featuring their artwork and the area’s K-8 Students. The show debuts on December 7th, 2012, in the Lewandowski Gallery in McLaurin Hall on Winthrop campus. “And Away We Grow” will be on display until January 18th, 2013.
Please join us for the opening reception from 6:00 to 8:00pm to celebrate the Winthrop Senior Art Education students’ and the area K-8 students’ accomplishments.
In the meantime, enjoy highlights and excerpts from our conversation with the future of ART, our Winthrop Art Educators….
Dr. Gardner’s intro…
For our 10th Annual Art Education Senior Show we explored the idea of growth. We asked ourselves: what is the meaning of the concept? How might we relate the idea of growth to elementary and middle school aged children through art making and art teaching?
We looked at several meanings of the word: seasons, process over time, patterns, metamorphosis, complete/incomplete, and recurring were some. We determined that each of us approached the concept in different ways based on our experience and interpretation. And because our show was to include the artwork of the students we were working with in our field experience in K-8 Clover, Fort Mill, and Rock Hill schools, the developmental age of those students needed to be taken into consideration in order to create an age appropriate lesson.
What you see in “And Away We Grow” are those lessons, an interpretation of the idea of growth, designed by each pre-service art education student for the developmental age of the students they worked with this semester.
What surprised you most about this coursework?
- “It was more successful than I thought it would be. Not as ‘surprised,’ as much as ‘aware’ of the course’s outcome. I worked on collographs with the 6th and 7th graders…most students were really happy with what they discovered <in their art>.”
- “ I was surprised to see the artists’ views. We started with an idea in class, what art can mean, and it moved into how to interpret metaphorical concepts. I was surprised with the <students’> creative capacity.”
- “ I was surprised with the different skills of the <middle school> students. Some were college level and completely engaged with the project. Some were ahead of middle school and some were behind. I modified the project to respond to the artist.”
What have you learned in one of your projects?
- “I learned the entire collograph process. Dr. Gardner gave me good feedback to help with the structure of the project.”
- “I learned what things to teach…what information to share and how (and when) to present new techniques within the project timeframe.”
- “I learned when to do demonstrations, how to balance the pacing and deconstructing of the assignments. I know not to assume that they know the art technique, but I am also careful to not talk down to the student. I always speak to them with respect.”
What new techniques are you applying in your curriculum and artwork?
- “I am connecting art within our community. I want to include the community in our lesson plans. I go out to gather supplies…for example, Styrofoam meat trays for print blocks to use with stamping and printing. I ask for supplies from different sources and people. I reach out for outside sources. I feel like engaging our community helps students learn about themselves and the community around them.”
What will we see at your upcoming show? Tell us about it….
- “You will see student artwork that represents our lesson plans for students. Our theme is <Growth>.”
- “My collection focuses on using patterns and tradition. For example, I brought in my Grandmother’s quilt to the 3rd graders. The quilt is old and has been passed down through the generations. I shared that this heritage is a part of “You.” I talked about the symbolism of the quilt being passed down. We also discussed the quilt and its visual representation.”
- “We interpreted through the artistic process. We are showing our finished pieces and works in progress and various collaging techniques.”
- “I worked with 3rd graders in a Printmaking Project. They used the theme interpreted through their personal experience. They came up with a plan using the same printmaking block, printing 3 prints to a page, adding in detail as it changed over time with their additions to the design. I think they enjoyed the learning process because they could see the growth in their work – both in their personal experience and in their technique.”
What do you see as the biggest obstacle in Art Education in our future…what is a challenge that we need to address?
- “Keeping <art> relevant.”
- “People may underestimate Art Educators. Our job is to prove them wrong. Sometimes we are not seen as real artists or teachers. I believe in the art of teaching.”
- “As artists and art educators, it is hard for us to find time to be our own artists. I have to work hard to find time to do my artwork.”
- “Since some people are getting rid of the field <of art education>, I think we need to show how important the field is.”
- “We need to be advocates for art and for art education.”
As you complete your education and teaching experience at Winthrop, predict your future:
- “A job would be nice. I am visualizing a job in the elementary or middle school.”
- “A job – any age level. I want to move forward knowing that the students who know me are leaving school with a newfound love and appreciation of art. I also want them to love and see the value in art and the making <of art.>”
- “I want to move into my future with a balance between being a teacher and an artist. I also want to create children’s books. I learn from the students and what they learn from their artwork.”
Any other quotes or comments that you want to share from your students?
- “I will always remember the students giving me hugs. They would run really quickly out of the classroom to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Bye.’”
- “The 6th graders asking…are you going to be back in our class again?”
- “I think it says something when the kids don’t want you to leave. “
- “The kids recognized me and said “hi”….shows our connection.”
- “Once, when I was wearing my Winthrop name tag, a student said, ‘You’re so lucky – you get to teach here and at Winthrop.”
- “My last name is ‘Littlejohn’ and the kids commented on how tall I am yet my last name is ‘Littlejohn.’”
- “I heard the kids say, ‘Thanks for listening.’”
- “I taught in the 7th Grade. We had a class clown in our class and during a watercolor demo using salt, he decided to be funny and put the salt in his mouth. When we told him everyone’s hands had been in the salt, he dramatically started removing the salt from his mouth with his hands. We all laughed. It was a really fun class that day.”
We end on a quote from Dr. Gardner on her own experiences with the Art Education Seniors through their field placement and their coursework…..
“As they crossed the bridge from being students to teaching students, I watched them flower before my eyes. This is the one thing I am always looking for in my work – transformation. I saw transformation with this group. They are ready to be Art Teachers.”
Thank you to the following Art Education Seniors for visiting with us. Thank you to Dr. Gardner for inviting us. And thanks to all for your contributions in the art world. Best wishes in your future!
and Laura Zellmer