Art --Middle School-- Casey Williamson
Rudd Middle/Jefferson County Schools
Cilau Valadez, Huichol yarn painter and I during the Crimaz workshop
|Folk Art and Connections to Community --Project Summary:|
|I am in my seventh year teaching 6th-8th grade visual art at a Title I middle school. My school has a large population of Hispanic, Native American, and African American children. Many of them come from homes with little money, rare quality time with parents, and poor quality living conditions. Some of these families are new to America and speak little to no English. I find the common dominator throughout my students is a sense of wanting to be part of a “community.” The idea of community might be the town they live in, our state, or our school community. I believe the idea of community can help students understand and connect to one another and the world around them.
As a descendent of Native American heritage, I harbor a curiosity for the traditional Native American artwork of the Southwest. I am inspired by folk artists creating art by tradition with little to no formal training. As an art teacher, I was thrilled to find a way to learn about this in New Mexico. Crizmac advertised their Folk Art Extravaganza travel adventure in School Arts Magazine. I wanted to explore the idea of learning about folk art and Native American traditions, while focusing on the idea of community. I heard about Fund for Teachers from a friend who knew I needed funding to make this adventure a reality. I researched the travels of past fellows and was impressed by FFT's mission to help teachers, like myself, have real life experiences that translate back into the classroom. I am so proud to call myself a Fund for Teachers fellow! Dreams do come true!
Blog: Have Art, Will Travel! The adventures of a middle school art teacher
Casey is the first Alabama Ambassador for The Art of Education Online. This is an online art community and social space designed specifically for experts in the field of Art Education! You can post photos from your classroom, ask or answer questions in the forums, or even add a great art education related video.
My selfie was taken after first getting to my earthship in Taos. I was just going over my notes and looking over my finds I got at the International Folk Art Market. I felt it most appropriate to take this selfie out in the desert, where I had time to reflect on my journey at that point.
The "art teachers" photo was taken by Nancy Walkup's husband, Bill. Nancy was one of the organizers of our trip. She is the editor of School Arts Magazine, which is where I initially saw the ad about the folk art market trip through Crizmac. This is a photo of all the participating art teachers from around the country.
"Quilt Square" is my example of our lesson about the folk art tradition of creating personalized quilt squares in Mexico. I chose the theme "Day of the Dead" and decorated it with hand stitching, adding motifs associated with the Mexican holiday, and adorning it with tassels handmade by a woman from Pakistan who gave them to us during her workshop on quilting. I added them as part of my overall design.
"Cilau Yarn Painter" is a 4th generation yarn painter from a tiny village in Mexico. His work is featured in museums all over the world. He brought his father with him (seen in photo "Yarn Painter") and they discussed and demonstrated how they create their very intricate and brightly colored yarn paintings. This is a photo of Cilau and I during his presentation to our art teacher group.
"Folk Art Market" is a photo of the sign for the market. The saying for the market is "It's not just a market, it's a miracle" is very true. Even the sign is welcoming and energetic, promoting an air of global community and creativity.
"Oaxacan Wood Carvers" are a family of wood carvers from Oaxaca, Mexico. They are considered the best of the best in their folk art tradition. They came to present their technique and story to our art teacher group in a private session. It was wonderful to see them in their element at the market, then talk with them in a more personal setting and explore their work in greater detail. This is a photo of their demonstration. There are more detailed photos I will be including on my blog.