‘The arts do not exist in a vacuum; it is the collaboration of individuals who see a vision and then want to experience it together. The artist in the community who joins forces with the artist teacher in the classroom, have the ability to combine their creative resources to ignite the student learner to new ways to make creativity come alive. The student gets to experience the artist, but they also witness the collaboration and mutual respect that the teacher and artist share, learning is expanded and everyone wins.’
Jay Seller, PhD, Managing Director of Think 360 Arts Complete Education
3rd graders creating textured ‘Speech Bubbles’
Collaboration is core. In the first experience I had with Think 360 Arts about 10 years ago at my school, it began with a conversation about my vision for my students. We talked about the need to create a meaningful cross-content bridge with the visual arts and regular classroom curriculum. We worked side by side with the grade level teachers and our artist, Marie Gibbons. Since this first residency Marie and I have collaborated on residencies in the schools I have taught for about 8 years. Ours is a conversation about art and art making that has lasted these years and picks up speed with each residency or workshop Think 360 and Marie create for my students. Often I consider Marie’s residencies or workshops as enriching for me professionally and creatively as it is for my students. Another artist brings a new lens to look through, new ideas, approaches and always their shared experience of imaginative process and a life of making.
4th graders learning Hip Hop moves with Ricki Herada
Planning logistics and ideas is a shared decision. For example, at my current school, Normandy Elementary our endeavor was to create meaningful bridge into the content during our Early Release Days. (These are days for professional development at school sites and district wide. The schedule is compressed from a 45-minute block to a 30-minute block.) My team and I wanted to create an arts experience for the students that lifted up the disciplines and could reach all grade levels. We landed on four days wherein four artists from Think 360 came to our school. We proposed to our PTO the possibility of our students from 1st-6th grade participating in workshop with a diverse and talented group of artists. We were intentional in our description of how the artists supported as well as deepened the content in the studio classroom. As a collective our PTO unanimously voted for the Think 360 artists to join our school community. The result is 1st -6th students experience the work and discussion in; clay sculpture application with Marie Gibbons, African Drumming with Bob Hall, Hip Hop Dance with Ricki Herada, Polynesian Dance with Junior Wahine. Because of the artists visiting on the district wide Early Release Days the students are engaged in an extension of arts practices as well as deepening their experience of the arts during the 30-minute blocks.
In my studio classroom with our current residency our format is unique. The students are required by time (30 minute block) and by design to make decisions about emotion with a clay gesture sculpture. Generating ideas for the workshops with Marie was always rich conversation and always grounded in the content creative process as well as meeting the guaranteed curriculum.Joining Marie’s perspective and work with the students in our studio classroom experience also addresses the Colorado Visual Arts Academic Standards
Consider the Colorado Visual Arts Academic Standards:
Observe and Learn to Comprehend
Envision and Critique to Reflect
Invent and Discover to Create
Relate and Connect to Transfer
The Colorado Visual Arts Academic Standards are woven into the fabric of studio practice. Our studio classrooms are facilitating the process with our students to engage in and think like artists through creative practices. Bringing an artist into your school or studio classroom is a powerful layer for the students to see real application of the Colorado Visual Arts Academic Standards in studio practice with a working artist.
Artists are the practitioners of the continuum that is the Colorado Visual Arts Academic Standards. In their way the artists describe through process a creative continuum and walk side by side with you and your students.
Placing on the table the possibility of a visiting artist coming to your school is a way to elevate the practice of the student artists and the arts as a profession. It might feel vulnerable and risky to propose to your community another way to teach, look at, discover and connect to art and making art. Creating a residency in your school is well worth the risk. The collaboration with the artists from Think 360, your staff and community is rewarding. Building a capacity of support for residencies or workshops in your school elevates and advocates for the all of the arts. A Think 360 artist in residency or workshop builds a solid bridge of collaborative and creative work from your studio classroom into the arts community and into your school community.
More information about Think 360 Arts check out: www.think360arts.org