Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Emery Public Art Tour

On March 9th CCA students took Emery Secondary Art students on a walking tour of some of Emeryville's public art. To see the 3 tours CCA students wrote visit our class website Resources page. Once of the exciting aspects of this tour was that the Emery students had a display of their own self portraits hanging in City Hall - our first stop on the tour.

The Process
CCA student interviewed a total of 6 local artists who have public works in Emeryville: Scott Donahu, Louise Stanley, Sayed Alavi, Roger Berry, Sheila Ghidini and Catherine Cortney. Each of my students spent time with an artist, interviewed them to write a short script that became part of our tour.

CCA students visit the studios of Emeryville artists Louise Stanley and Scott Donahue

I asked my students to reflect on the tour and capture some of the things they heard students saying or experiencing. Some of them did this through the lens of Studio Habits to think about both student learning and their own experience as teachers. Here are some highlight reflections from the CCA students about the tour:

"During the walking tour I think the SHoM that was addressed the most was Understanding the Art World and Observe. I know that when we looked at the public art we were talking about the elements of art more than the studio habits. However we did talk about the artist and their process a lot. Therefore we were able to give the students a little view into the art world. I think they liked that. On the other hand, I think that I used the Studio Habits of Mind when giving the tour to the students. I was definitely envisioning what I was going to say at each different art work. I had to engage and persist in order to create some kind of dialogue with the students. I had to observe the students reactions to each piece. I had to use Develop Craft as an aspiring teacher I had to practice being comfortable talking to a group of students and asking them questions. I had to Understand the Art World in order to explain it to my group of students."

"The tour was full of a lot of eye-opening questions - a lot of the student had became so submerged in their sounding that the art work had become a part of their everyday scenery to the point that it went unnoticed. One of my student for example said that "it was like trees - we know that they are outside and around us and we pay it no mind, but if they weren’t out there something would feel out of place, not feel right, the landscape would be missing something." To me this shows that art is like an unsung hero. Needed, but not given the praise or honor that is due. This also challenged the student to see, think and wonder about what they were seeing and experiencing. Having them look at what they see and what it would look like without, in terms of Studio Habits."

"I heard the following from students on the tour: “It is nice to see our work here cuz it makes me feel like we worked for something.” “People can see our work,it makes me feel really proud.”“I never new this was here, now I know and now I know a little bit about what the art is about.”
I think a lot of them were appreciative of seeing their own work in the context of the public and other artists. I could see and hear them investigate and try to figure out all the meanings of each piece-they really delved deeper into what the labyrinth piece by Sheila Ghidini meant to them. This process for this class has been really difficult for me because the style and intentions are different from how I choose to teach my students at Rock Paper Scissors. So I have had to develop craft of teaching styles by engaging and persisting -trying to still feel connected to this new teaching style.

This new setting-very chaotically structured and stressed on time and hitting landmarks- has made me push outside of my normal thinking framework and has made me more self conscious and aware of what I am doing and teaching and how. I have had to use Reflection a lot in the process I described above- to make sure I stay on track with the class and the new techniques I am learning. The real SHoM I have described as well is Stretch and explore: bc I am learning and implementing new teaching techniques I need to get used to them and allow myself to try new things before saying it is or is not my style."

"The public art tour was amazing! I loved watching the students explore and critique the artwork we showed them. Michael from our group when responding to the three labyrinth pieces behind City Hall compared the progression of the detail and intricacy of the mazes/paths to the progression of art itself. (How art is changed from simple to more complex) This thought had never come up in our class discussion and interpretation of the pieces then we 7 took the tour the first time. I really felt the enthusiasm and appreciation from these Emery students. They had so many questions and comments and they really got into the art once they had some background of the artist to propel their interest and stir up conversation. Their observations for the most part were similar to our own on our trip but they also have intuitive comments that were not apart of the first trip and added to the reflection and understanding. Another student commented a similar thought to my own in that we so often see but do not fully stop to appreciate the public art that is around us and having the researched background information gives us a lead to further investigate and talk about the work. At first I did not see the point of public art, I pass by it because I don’t automatically see the story but once I dug deeper I felt a stronger connection and personal identification with the art and I think the students at Emery now feel the same and that feels great!"

"Personally, I thought that the tour was a success. Kathy and I saw almost every student participating and using the elements of art. They were also able to speak more fluidly about how color and emotions intertwine. For instance, when we were at the Solar Rose, we had asked the group about how the colors of the glass made them feel and why. We even got to introduce the students as to what a triptych is. One student in particular made a very interesting and abstract point by linking the idea of a triptych back to Sheila’s labyrinth work. I had never even thought about viewing the work this way until it had been brought it up. Altogether it was just a great experience and I felt that everyone was engaged throughout the tour."

Emery Lesson Planning

CCA students worked for about 3 weeks on writing the public art tour, conceptualizing a unit plan that would interface with the public art tour, take Emery students deeper into understanding color (a class focus this semester) and incorporate some of the ideas that they brought to the table as personal interests. They collectively came up with the following understanding goals for the Unit:
  • How can looking at the principals of art influence how I look at my environment?
  • What does space have to do with creating community?
  • How can we use color to express a story or narrative about your community?
To plan and develop curriculum, students then broke into sub groups to plan and develop each piece of the unit with 5 lessons and the walking tour. The incorporated Studio Thinking and VAPA Content Standards for California. To see our curriculum matrix for the unit - visit our class website:
Unit Description: Starting with the year long understanding goals that Emery Secondary arts students are exploring: As artists how do we solve problems? Students will explore some of the Elements and Principals of Art and Design to help develop a vocabulary around their own artistic practice to gain better understanding the creative process. They will use Elements and Principals of Art to look and think about real world connections, such as their local community through the lens of art (Emeryville public art tour), think about their own personal community and home life (micro community), their community at school and explore how personal stories create relationships to each other and feed creative solutions. Students will use Studio Habits of Mind and thinking routines to reflect on what they learned.

Looking Back on the Process
I think in the beginning of our planning process my student felts like the process was messy and they could not clearly envision what the end result would be. They were all on a big learning curve and I don't think they realized that it would be so much work to actually create a unit that had so many connections - to the public art in Emeryville (researching, interviewing artists and writing a tour) and developing lesson plans using Teaching for Understanding was a challenge for them at first as well. But after about the 3rd planning session it all started to come together and in the end they all realized that they had learned a lot and felt like these tools were valuable for them not only in thinking about planning for teaching, but in reflecting on their own learning in school both in their secondary experience and now in college. It was revealing for them to go through this process and make those connections.

Video of my students planning session for leading students through reflection after the public art walking tour:

Planning Emery Public Art Tour

One of the things that Sara mentioned to us when we starting our planning conversation was that it was really hard to get her students out of the classroom to see art. There was an issues taking almost 40 students on public transit with out much support and there was the cost of doing this as well.

Sara had been in touch with the Emeryville Public Art Committee about working with students in her classroom and had started a visiting artist program with some of the local Emeryville Coop ceramic artists, who are working in her middle school classed, but she has wanted to forge some other connections with her high school students to the art in Emeryville.

My students picked up on this and we started to explore the idea of creating a walking tour of Emeryville Public Art to help introduce the students to the rich public arts program in their neighborhood and to get them out to explore these community art resources. We began to work with Public Art Commissioner Sharon Wilchar (our project outside expert - image above) to help us learn about and plan the tour we would take the Emery students on in March.

So we went on a tour ourselves, lead by Sharon, of the local art in the neighborhood of Emery Secondary, visited artists studios at the Emeryville Artist Coop and CCA students conducted interview with Emery artists:

Planning to Teach

We took the first few weeks to discuss and plan out the focus for the curriculum my CCA
students would be teaching in Emery. I think this was challenging for my students at first because they all came to the table with really good ideas, but we also had some requests from Sara about what she thought was needed in her classes and what they were in process with learning. Sara thought it would be great to fold into our lessons some of the content that she was also working on with her students.

The first thing I wanted my students to do was to look at their own learning process - how they learn, what skills or thinking do they employ and where are their knots? We asked: What is art education? and tried to map out all the things that were important to my students about their own experience with art and education and why it was important to their own growth and learning. We came up with this very messy map (pictured above) which was really the seed that started my students thinking about what ideas they wanted to bring into the Emery classroom.

Introducing Studio Thinking
Next my students used the Studio Habits wheel to map out their own artistic practice and learning process. This was a valuable exercise for them because it gave them a language to talk about their thinking and process for their own artistic practice and helped them to see their areas of strength and concerns. We were able to take this same process later on and apply it to their teaching practice and as an observation/reflection tool of their students learning.

CCA students map out their own thinking and learning process in the arts:

Students talk about their process through studio habits they mapped out:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Understanding Goals and Planning

Description of our service-learning project:
Noval and Art Ed 2 students will work with Emeryville teacher Sara Stillman and her high school students, Emeryville artists and a public art advocate and planner, to create a walking tour of Emeryville’s public art for students and develop curriculum that looks at how art in the community helps it citizens to explore the connections between art and community, public life in Emeryville and how public art reflects the city.

It is difficult for Emery students to get to museums and galleries to see art in person. This project will create a unique process for students to be able to see and explore first hand the work of Emery artists and public works in their own neighborhood. CCA students will develop and implement the curriculum with Emery high school art classes and we will hope to be able to publish this curriculum for other Emery teachers to use with their students. Some of the guiding UG’s of Sara’s class that we will address in this project are:
-As artists how can we communicate with others?
-As artists how do we solve problems?

We are still developing the specifics of the project which will not fully unfold until the Art Ed 2 class starts and students can begin to brainstorm ideas based on Emery Secondary students and teacher needs.

It has been a good reflective exercise to begin planning this class and to really think about the best way to lay out the ideas of the class as it has been established in the past and think about the goals in terms of community service. These goals may be revised as we begin our process:

1. How does my art making inform my practice as an educator, and how does art education inform my practice as an artist in the world?

2. How can artists use their art practice to understand contemporary life and influence shifts in society through their teaching and learning?

3. What do teaching and learning look like, and what are best practices in teaching?

Questions/Notes: These are the UG’s of the class – but implicit in them are ideas around service learning (UG2) and artist process (UG3) – both part of the Engage mission for CCA students. See Studio Learning and community goals for more specifics.

1. How can I use SHoM as a studio tool to help inform my own artistic process, thinking and learning and that of the students I teach?

2. What elements are necessary for developing meaningful, mindful arts curriculum?

3. How can we turn my knowledge and mastery of art tools and process into successful curriculum?

Questions/Notes: Still working on these…need to flush them out more but this is a start…

1. How and why is art useful in learning about a community’s culture and values?

2. How can we inspire and empower each other to lead through artistic learning and practice?

3. What is the value in the work we are doing together?

4. What is the connection of art to the community?

5. Why do we need public art to tell the stories of Emeryville or any other community?

1. As artists how can we solve problems?

2. What are the values and ideas I believe in and how do they apply to my teaching practice as an artist and how to they apply to the community I am working in?

3. As artists how to we communicate our ideas with others?

4. What are the stories we want to tell through our art practice, teaching and working collaboratively?

Questions/Notes: Some of the questions above might be posed to the students at Emery Secondary as part of this project.