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Lesson Plans

artist in residence, learning experience, Lewis

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Merrilee Gladkosky (gladrag)
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 07:18:44 -0800

Dear Folks,
Earlier in the year I was as non-plussed as I could get with a clay
artist in residence having been assigned to me by the co-curricular
committee in our school. It was so much added work for me, firings,
etc.. The woman would come in and spend the day, then I was to finish
the sculptures with the kids, hollow them out, fire them and have them
prepared so that the kids could put patinas on them. I balked, I
squawked, I said no (in ways that were unheard and unclear). Then, the
great day arrived and she came.
We are now arranging for Marilyn Parkinson Thrall to come back next
year. I learned. She talked to the kids about what it was like to be
an artist and to work in what she loved. She talked about making
sculpture that was not accepted, the time it took, the process of
jurying, and what she felt like. And then we sculpted. This was one of
the most labor intensive projects I have ever been involved in doing the
"skut-work". However, it came at a time that the kids and I were open
and needing something as well as me needing to open my mind a little. I
To contrast this, I had a second sculptor in, same group of kids, I
had to be much more the teacher as it was much less smooth. I guess we
are all individuals and I see part of the teacher's job as running
interference with this sort of thing to make the most of it for the
kids. So much for changing the paradigm. Now a word a bit more from the
One of children in sixth grade died in a fire over Christmas
vacation. It was horrible, devastating, he was 13 and in sixth grade.
There were grief counselors...he went back into his burning home to save
his grandmother. Okay, so here comes the visiting artist whom I had
dreaded. She was scheduled to come in the week after Lewis died. I
thought about cancelling, but discussed it with everyone involved and we
gave the week over to preparing for her visit, spending time getting the
clay ready and building the armatures that would be needed. I should
explain here that I have the job of teaching three days of art and two
days worth of enrichment(mostly academic) at our school. I used our
enrichment time as prep and spent as much time as I could with the sixth
grade kids and teachers. When Marilyn came on the Friday of that week
worked in the clay. It became more than sculpture, obviously.
A final note, which I hope you will simply accept as is: we found
some of Lewis' clay pieces and art pieces last week while the kids and I
were cleaning the art room. As I held them in my hands I had a whole
new revelation about "great art" and this child's work. I'm sure many
of you have had similar experiences. I won't try to put this experience
into words. I'm glad I have the opportunity to teach art. That's all.
Merrilee, in CT

  • Reply: John & Sandra Barrick: "Re: artist in residence, learning experience, Lewis"