Sunday, February 7, 2016

Layered Monoprinting Video

One of my art teacher friends has Friday Fun Days where the students take a break from their regular projects and do something extra fun (Check out her Facebook page "Mrs.Strnad's Art Classsssssss"). Last fall she asked me and some other teachers if we would create a short video with a project to show her students so we would serve as virtual visiting artists. I knew I wanted to do something with monoprinting since they have a class set of Gelli plates and I finally got around to it today before making valentines with my 5 year old. I demonstrated the same technique I've shown to students from grade school to high school!

So, without further adieu, here is my goofy little mono printing demo. I hope it's helpful to someone!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

An Open Letter to the KS House Judiciary Committee- SB56

After a friend told me a bill that allows the prosecution of teachers for allowing minors to view "harmful" material was resurrected, I decided to share the email that I am sending to my representative. Click here for the post I wrote about basically the same bill a couple years ago.

House Judiciary Committee,

I am writing today in regard to SB56 which is supposed to protect students from their teachers. First of all since I don't think you've spent much time in public schools, teachers don't go around showing pornography. I know about the isolated incident that inspired SB 56, and while I understand the concern, I think that an entire bill that makes it sound as though teachers who have dedicated their lives to serving children are a big enough risk to children's wellbeing that they can be charged with a misdemeanor for something unintentional is a huge overreaction. SB56, even if the author had good intentions, could end up causing much more harm than good. The wording refers to what the "average" person would find unsuitable, but who is the "average" person? What is offensive to me might be perfectly acceptable to you, and vice versa. 

The language of the bill says no person shall knowingly "present or distribute to a minor, or otherwise allow a minor to view..." We can't always control what our students see. Let's say that a class is on a field trip to an art museum and walks past a classical painting, sculpture, etc. that happens to depict a nude figure. If a parent was upset that their child saw nudity, according to the language in the bill, the teacher could be liable for allowing the minor to view the work of art.
As a visual arts teacher, I am particularly concerned with this bill. It will be hard to do my job of teaching my students about the art world and the world through art if I have to walk on egg shells around art history. Nudity is part of many very important works of art through history- Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, even depictions of Christian stories like Adam and Eve and the Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. I, an award winning art teacher who has never received so much as a speeding ticket, could be charged with a misdemeanor for discussing one of those works of art with my students or even "allowing" them to see pictures in art history books that are kept in my classroom. Is my professional judgment worthless?

Wouldn't it make more sense to let schools deal with any isolated incidents that pop up than to make it harder for teachers to do their jobs out of fear of prosecution? Do politicians really have such a low view of teachers?

When this bill comes up for debate, I hope that you will do the reasonable thing and oppose this bill that vilifies teachers.

Katie Morris

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

8th graders on the Potter's Wheel

I mentioned in my last post that I hadn't planned on offering wheel throwing to my 8th grade class but some students asked and I figured why not? Probably half of the students ended up trying it out and all but a couple of them actually made something functional! I was impressed. They seemed to take to throwing a lot better than I did in the beginning.

First attempt on the left, second on the right. I know the gray bowl was the result of a glaze defect, but I think it's beautiful.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

8th Grade Nature Themed Artwork

My middle school classes are one semester long, 8th grade first semester and 7th second semester. I tried to get most of my lesson starters from the Core Arts Standards.  One of the standards is about preparing and presenting theme based work, and we met half of that standard through this lesson.
I can collaboratively prepare and present selected theme-based artwork for display, and formulate exhibition narratives for the viewer.

I started by telling students they were going to create theme based artwork, and that as a class, they were going to decide on the theme. I took notes as they brainstormed and we combined similar themes. They voted and "nature" was the clear winner.
Next, each student came up with an idea of how they would create artwork for that theme. Projects were created in clay, drawing, and painting.
I helped each student work on the skills they needed to communicate their idea.
One student even did nature on another planet.

And now I have to tell you about the piece that was also pictured at the top of this post. The student had an idea of making a flower and she wanted to include wheel throwing. I hadn't planned to let 8th graders loose on the wheel, but I decided to do a demo and let them all have a shot at it if they wanted to. This student was seriously a natural on the wheel. After she threw the base, she started sculpting all these petals and assembled them into a flower.... which blew up in the kiln. It either had trapped air or wasn't as dry as I thought it was. Thankfully, she rolled with it and was able to save most of it. I told her I thought it could be glazed back together and I love how it turned out!