Blog Posts for for artists

My Most Memorable Day of Teaching and Art Creation

Posted by Sandy Brunvand, Mar 14, 2014 0 comments

Sandy Brunvand Sandy Brunvand

No WAY!” is literally what I said when a participant from my Saturday professional development workshop, Rosie Mitchell, asked me if I would run a steamroller printmaking day at her elementary school in South Salt Lake City. For those of you who have never heard of “steamroller printmaking,” this is a technique for making very large woodcut prints using a steamroller as the printing press. More on that in a bit…

It is not that I am unkind; it’s just that it is so much work to move a printmaking studio off site. I know, I have done it before for the Utah Arts Festival when I was invited to demonstrate steamroller printmaker along with my two fellow Saltgrass Printmakers co-owners and founders - my husband, Erik Brunvand, and our business partner Stefanie Dykes. That’s when Rosie first participated in the steamrolling event.  Later she joined us at our non-profit print studio, Saltgrass Printmakers (facebook page here) and steamrolled some more works of art. She knew how much fun it was and wanted to share it with her elementary school kids.

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Dramatic Possibilities

Posted by Lenore Kelner, Mar 10, 2014 7 comments

Lenore Blank Kelner Lenore Blank Kelner

I have been a teaching artist for many years—long before the profession had this name.

I work with students and teachers in all grade levels integrating drama with oral language development and reading comprehension skills and like all teaching artists try to stay abreast of educational shifts and trends so that my work can be relevant and meaningful to students and to teachers. I have written two books on drama and the classroom and one book on integrating drama with reading comprehension skills.

After 35 years of performing, directing, presenting, writing, and teaching, I am still amazed by the joy and passion I still find daily in my work.  When a student tracked as “low ability” unexpectedly utters a jewel of dialogue during a drama that demonstrates the student not only understands the text explicitly but implicitly I still often get the feeling that I had better sit down quickly or I may fall down. When a teacher after a professional development workshop or after observing a demonstration lesson looks at me in amazement and says, “This is the way I know I can reach my students.”  I again feel so lucky to be able to do this-- amorphous, hard to define, and difficult to quantify-- work. 

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How To Sustain A Professional Practice As A Teaching Artist?

Posted by Dale Davis, Mar 10, 2014 2 comments

Dale Davis Dale Davis

I am a Teaching Artist. Teaching Artists are theater artists, visual artists, writers, filmmakers, poets, video artists, photographers, dancers, storytellers, musicians, puppeteers. We work alone in isolation from a national community to bring us together to share the excitement and challenges of our work, ideas, concerns, and resources. We work as employees of arts organizations, on rosters of arts organizations, and as independent contractors. We work in schools, libraries, prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, museums, homeless shelters, cultural organizations, senior citizen centers, and in our communities. We work in urban, suburban, and rural areas in densely populated and sparsely populated states.

How does this translate into a practical career track? Liability insurance, independent contractor or employee, health insurance, retirement, intellectual property, copyright, certification, master’s degree programs, fellowships, career track - these are high up in Teaching Artists’ concerns.

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At the End of the Day, a Teaching Artist is an Artist First

Posted by Russell Granet, Mar 10, 2014 8 comments

Russell Granet Russell Granet

I graduated conservatory in 1988 and my first job out of school was as a teaching artist.  I moved back to New York City after completing my studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  I was looking for work and had no interest in returning to my previous life in college as a bellman - a gig that paid well, but this was before luggage had wheels.  I asked a buddy of mine from high school, who had also moved to NYC to pursue a career in professional theatre, what he was doing and he said he was a teaching artist.  I had never heard the term before so I asked him what it was and how I could become one.  He said the job had three requirements and in this order:

1. You had to like kids

2. You had to be a morning person because school started early and you couldn’t be late

3. You had to have an expertise in an art form

Sounded reasonable.  I applied for a position at the same organization where my friend worked.  I got the job.  My first assignment was to co-teach with a woman from Schenectady NY, neither one of us had ever stepped foot in a NYC public school.  I was given a name of a teacher, room number, and grade level and so began my career as a teaching artist.

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Rethinking Cultural Districts for Small Towns in Small States

Posted by Michael Lange, Feb 18, 2014 1 comment

Michael Lange Michael Lange

Using cultural districts as a structure for arts and cultural activities is a central catalyst for revitalization efforts that build better communities. Many states and urban areas have setup structures, often through legislation, that promote cultural districts as a way to build vibrant communities that lead to social and economic development.

Getting to the end outcome - the arts playing a leading role in revitalization efforts - is a necessary endeavor, but setting up structures in the same way as urban areas may not be the best approach for a rural state like Wyoming.

Laramie Mural picture 3 Laramie, WY Mural

Wyoming is one of the largest states geographically, but has the smallest population of any state with 575,000 people. Wyoming is better categorized as frontier or even remote. The largest populated city in Wyoming is the state capital Cheyenne, with a population just over 61,000 people. Of the 99 incorporated municipalities, only about half have populations over 1,000 people, and only a handful of those have a population over 10,000.

How can small populated states invest in the outcomes of cultural districts?

In Wyoming, the Wyoming Arts Council has joined in a strategic partnership with Wyoming Main Street which manages the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program. Located inside the Wyoming Business Council, the Wyoming Main Street program assists Wyoming communities of various sizes and resource levels with their downtown revitalization efforts. Between fully certified and affiliate communities, Wyoming has fifteen active communities in their Main Street Program.

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Creative Excellence

Posted by Mr. John R. Killacky, Jan 07, 2014 5 comments

John R. Kilacky John R. Kilacky

 

Recently, I participated on two funding panels: the National Endowment for the Arts for theater projects and a California foundation for commissioning new music. Artistic excellence was a key criterion on both panels. Defining quality used to be easy, although taste was always a mitigating factor. Now in our multicultural society, it is more complex. No longer can we calibrate merit solely through a Euro-centric framework. Experts on my theater panel reviewed applications from ensembles with budgets in the tens of thousands to those with budgets in the tens of millions. Projects included amateurs learning to tell their own stories , alongside avant-garde works, free Shakespeare, revivals of classics, puppet tales, new scripts, site specific and culturally specific productions. Communities served included Latino, African American, LGBT, elderly, children, the incarcerated, and homeless in urban, inner city, and rural locations. Music panelists judged choral, electronic, jazz, and orchestral proposals against Balinese Gamelan and East Indian vocal projects. String quartets competed with a Tibetan music master, Ghanaian drummer, Turkish singer, and Beijing Opera performer. Projects ranged from minimalist to the operatic, traditional proscenium-based concerts to multidisciplinary extravaganzas. There were limited dollars to grant, so competition was steep in both panels. Excellence mattered, and there was no lack of artistic excellence, but quality had to be judged through multiple worldviews and experiences. Panelists came from varied aesthetics, ethnicities, generations and geographies to allow for a fair review of the proposals. Equity and parity, as well as cultural competency factored into our decision-making. Liking an artist or project was not sufficient. Listening and learning from one another’s comments were vital as we navigated beyond personal taste. Context matters, traditions are essential, and community is crucial.

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