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Visiting Artists in the Classroom

resources index > lesson plans > VISITING ARTISTS < social studies


Artists Communities: A Directory of Residencies that Offer Time and Space for Creativity
Artists Communities:
A Directory of Residencies that Offer Time and Space for Creativity

How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist, 5th ed.: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul
How to Survive
and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul 5th ed.

Bring a parent-artist (or sibling-artist, neighbor-artist, cousin-artist) into your school, classroom or for a special school event - there is nothing like an in-person performance or demonstration to ignite the curiosity of your students. The impact is even greater when the artist is a person that is only 1 or 2 degrees of separation from their audience.

My first experience with a visiting artist proves you can manage this experience no matter where you are - I attended a one room country school (never mind how long ago, it's not quite ancient history, but close!) that wasn't in the vicinity of any major city.

One of my most pervading memories is of the evening a local man (and childhood friend of my father) to demonstrate oil painting for the entertainment portion of a PTA type gathering. I was probably 1st or 2nd grade - that winter scene hung in our one room school for all the years I was there - through the 6th grade - and I stared at it often, remembering how Mr. Houghton had found the ‘horizon line’, how he made the little stream seemed to disappear behind blue tinged snow drifts and perfect pine trees. So I insisted on attending art school - and did, inspired by that demonstration.

I became an art teacher - and very interested in weaving - which lead to my own looms and spinning wheel. More than once I was my own visiting artist and in one school even had a father of a student agree to bring one of his sheep to school where he sheared it for us one excellent spring afternoon. We later experimented with carding the wool, spinning yarn with drop spindles, vegetable dying, and weaving with back-strap looms.

Do you have a parent who is a sculptor, a poet or mime? Does some one decorate cakes, or do you have a musician in your midst who can show how their instrument works as well as perform?

Quilts and ceramic tiles lend themselves to a collaborative art project for the school.

Perhaps you can form a consortium with other schools to share resources.

Call local museums and art guilds for other suggestions of artists. Check with local high schools and universities. These contacts may require finding some funding- get your students involved in the process of acquiring their educational experiences.

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