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Lesson Plans

A visiting artist's view

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Janet Moore (janetemoore)
Sat, 12 Oct 1996 09:58:30 -0800

Hello! I've recently had the pleasure of being a visiting artist to
three very different highschool art departments. The first is a private
academy, and facilities were lovely--a renovated house on campus with
clay studio, drawing rooms, music rooms, an exhibition gallery, a
visiting artist program drawing on a national base of artists. A team
of two full time instructors (an artist and an art educator) taught. I
was invited to exhibit mytapestry work in the gallery. The second was a
Catholic (private) school with a very large art studio, including clay
room, kilns, work tables, drawing studio, free standing vitrines in the
hallways to display student work. The patrons chose to fund a studio
rather than a gym. The instructor was an art educator, very organized
and product oriented. Here, I worked on an outdoor mural project with
the students; a very successful "Women in Sports" painting that
involved figures in action. But the kids seemed kind of flat, not
tremendously excited or responsive to me as a visiting artist. (Maybe it
was just me.) The third project was at a public school . This school did
not even have a dedicated room for art. The instructor was also the
history teacher, and had no art training of any kind, and seemed to
focus on keeping order in a fairly disorderly classroom. I did a
weaving project with the kids on 4 frame looms that we shared between
teams of students in each of two classes. Between these two classes, a
drama class used the room. Despite these drawbacks, I found the students
(many of whom spoke minimal English) to be enthusiastic and responsive.
There were special ed kids in the class, and once I could get their
attention they responded well to the project. We ended up with a group
strip woven tapestry that was quite beautiful, and hangs in the school
RESOURCES for these students? It seems (and is) so unfair. In our
community, all these schools were able to avail themselves of my
services as a visiting artist because of funding aquired by an artists'
professional group I am part of. The schools themselves did not pay.
It is distressing to me that in a city with tremendous cultural
resources (San Francisco), the arts in the public schools are so little
valued. I also do not understand why teachers with no or little art
experience are asked to teach art classes, when the district could
probably hire arts professionals to teach or search for arts educators
to develope solid programs. Very Confusing!
In any event, I am enjoying the postings by those of you in the
profession. I am glad to get clear on the subject of integrated
academics with arts instruction. Yes, Art is a subject worthy of
focus. It's also a pursuit worthy of funding, space, and people who can
make it exciting and rewarding for the students. Jan