Life has been hectic lately. I’m deep into the art competition season and was at the art conference last week which took away some days of preparation for the so-called Reflections competition. This is a national competition sponsored by the National PTA and the art teachers in my district are required to participate. If there were no requirement I would drop this “competition” like the big bag of drudgery it is.
First of all, each year there is a “theme” to which students have to adhere and just as many classroom teachers complain about No Child Left Behind, in many ways, The Reflections Competition is teaching to the test. Worse, creativity is not important unless it is a child’s original portrayal of politically correct art reflecting hackneyed themes.
This year’s theme is Together we can. Oh yes, Together we can. Shades of Yes we can.
I’ve never been one to follow the crowd and I do not think that I am doing my job if I am not encouraging my students to be their own creative selves. Therefore, when we “brainstorm” about the themes of the Reflections Competition I stay away from cliches.
Still, public education has done its bit.
As a result, several of my students have rendered art worthy of a Miss America contestant. “Yes we can go green”, “Yes we can achieve world peace”, “Yes we can recycle” were some of the results.
But happily, other students followed their own unique minds and took a more personal approach to the theme.
Some of the most pleasing art reflected the students’ own personal life. “Yes we can clean our room.” was a funny take on the theme.
“Yes we can win the soccer game”, “Yes we can bake a cake”, “Yes, we can go to church”, “Yes, we can join the Army” were very well done pieces of art reflecting everyday life, which has always been the art that touches hearts.This kind of art fills the art museums of the world,and is more reflective of the cultures of the time. It is doubtful that the political thought that has been enforced throughout K-12 American schools will produce brilliance.
My favorite take on this years’ theme? A sixth grade girl created an artwork depicting girls fighting against nazi zombies. On her statement she wrote, “Yes we can fight the Nazi zombies” The art was clean, crisp, stylish and funny.
(this young lady has an ironic sense of humor, she is not a candidate for the school counselor)
I can’t imagine Vincent Van Gogh collapsing to mediocrity when being confronted with creating to a theme. Perhaps he would have chosen to portray the Potato Eaters (Yes, we can eat potatoes) he painted in his dark early days. Throughout the Renaissance period the greatest artists became great despite the demands of the Pope and Lorenzo de Medici.
I can just imagine Leonardo da Vinci’s reaction to a PTA lady’s demands that he fill out the Reflections entry form which is in itself one of the most excruciating experiences for an art teacher who has no active PTA at his/her school. If he even deemed to respond to it he would have filled it out by writing everything backwards. Nor would he have bothered to fill in the section that requires the particular schools’ PTA digits or the dates the school PTA paid their dues or passed their bylaws.
Oh, and yes, every art teacher entering their one fifth of all the students they teach (about a hundred students) in the Reflections Competition has to list each student who is entered and turn in five copies of five forms.
My Dad drew Bugs Bunny in the fresh cement in front of his antique shop years ago. I just noticed it the other day. So much for my powers of observation.
So today in America drawing the flag and writing the phrase, ‘God Bless America” is offensive?
We can draw Obama in art class but not the American flag that flies over the White House? I know it is forbidden to draw Mohammed but now the flag too?
What is left to draw? Flies?
Tracy Hathaway, of Salinas, CA, told FOX News Radio her 13-year-old daughter was ordered to stop drawing the American flag by an art teacher at Gavilan View Middle School.
“She had drawn the flag and was sketching the letters, ‘God bless America,’ when the teacher confronted her,” Hathaway told FOX. “She said, ‘You can’t draw that - that’s offensive.’
Unbelievable. Here’s more:
Mike Brusa, the superintendent of schools, told FOX in a written statement that he had contacted the principal and that the issue “was taken care of to their (the parent’s) satisfaction.”
“The school administration and the parents did not view this as significant enough to bring it to the superintendent’s office,” he wrote.
However, Hathaway said her daughter has yet to receive an apology – and in fact – the teacher told the girl that she should not have gotten her parents involved in the matter.
“My daughter felt like her rights were being trampled on – she was doing what she thought was right.” she said. “It’s disturbing. It really is disturbing. When I was in junior high we didn’t have a lot of the problems they are having now. We were allowed to speak our mind. It’s absolutely devastating for me. Last time I looked, this is America. This is still a free country.”
Deborah B. Sloan of American Thinker writes:
Our flag is a symbol of the principles on which America was founded; upon looking at it, one may reflexively recall the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”; it is a symbol of freedom, individual rights, self-sufficiency, capitalism and prosperity. Obama wants to dismantle and remake America. His sycophants, including this Gavilan Middle School teacher, know it.
I’ve never met any art teacher that was anything other than a leftist nutjob. I don’t think one can become an art teacher without first taking an oath of allegence to Lenin.
The above statement makes me sad, not because it does have a grain of truth to it but because so many art teachers in our country have bought into the whole “art is social justice” philosophy. I throw away most art publications from the National Art Educators Association because they are so decidedly leftist. Most of the issues celebrate the ugliest of “art” and are full of articles encouraging art teachers to engage their students in “democratic exchanges” that is, focusing the students on the inequities of life.
There is very little in the issues having to do with actually teaching students how to draw, paint, sculpt, etc. In many ways the National Art Education Association and others of its ilk encourage art teachers to “teach to the test” which is the complaint many American classroom teachers have via the No Child Left Behind Act.
The National PTA sponsors a nation wide annual Reflections Art Competition and each year the students are encouraged to illustrate a chosen “theme.”
Although most of the art winners merit their awards the students have a better chance of winning if they go with liberal ideas such as this one from 2009. (The theme for the art competition was “Wow.”) Here is another one. Read the students description of his art and weep.
My school district requires that I participate in the Reflections Competition. It is not a popular art contest with art teachers. I do have my students participate in local art competitions such as the following Patriotic Art Competition last fall. Yes, there was a theme but I found it spot on since teachers are supposed to help educate students about the history of our country and the importance of our flag. The following is art by my third graders. I didn’t tell them what to do. I gave them the art materials and asked them to create their idea of what a patriot is.
Forget the NCAA tournament, the Iditarod, and the Academy Awards, it’s Art Season for me. Three art competitions in recent weeks have had me working day and night to prepare my “players” for their chance to shine.
Why do I do it when most of the Arts establishment discourage competition in art? (and other areas)
The art establishment discourages competition in art just as educational elites frown upon any kind of competition in schools. Children are not being encouraged to compete or to strive to achieve in many schools in America, unfortunately.
Talent is the great equalizer; I’ve taught in high socio-economic schools as well as the low socio-economic school where I am teaching presently. I much prefer schools in poor neighborhoods. The children aren’t as distracted by ipods, video games and other prizes of the well off. Many of my students are immigrants and appreciate the education that our school is providing. Many, of course, not all, of the students who I taught who came from richer neighborhoods did not have aspirations to achieve.
When life comes easy, achievements are few.
What does the national art educational establishment consider important? Not achievement, nor excellence but social justice.
The theme of the NAEA 2010 National Art Education Convention is: Art Education and Social Justice
The theme of the 2010 Convention, Art Education and Social Justice, is appropriate to our time. The historic election of President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor reflects our ever shifting demographic. Our nation is truly questioning itself in order to discover and redefine who we are as a nation, what we believe in, and what needs to change.
The White House held a briefing on Art, Community, Social Justice, National Recovery on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 that was attended by arious representatives of the current administration and more than 60 artists and creative organizers. All gathered were there to not only pledge their support for the arts and community organizing but also to begin a real dialogue on issues of social justice and our nation’s economic and emotional recovery. Joseph Reinstein, Deputy Social Secretary, said, “The administration believes the arts play a critical role beyond art education in saying what a democracy is” (2009, p.5).
It is never a comfortable task to question oneself; there is fear at what we will find. But the arts are used to questioning, probing, and searching. As Maxine Greene writes, “[T]he arts will help disrupt the walls that obscure…spheres of freedom” (1988, p. 133). This year’s Convention seeks to do just that.
–Vanessa Lopez, Roland Park Elementary Middle School, Baltimore, MD
2010 NAEA National Convention Program Coordinator
Where have I heard this before?
Now I’m back to matting and shrink-wrapping artworks that express students individual and personal thoughts and ideas. No more personal in Obama’s world?
Here are some artworks by my students:
What do you do when you receive a gift that is wrapped so exquisitely you are hesitant to open it because you will damage the art?
The joy and ingenuity that went into the wrapping of the gift is quite evident. The message: sweet and touching.
I still haven’t opened the gift because I hate to destroy the wrapping. No staples went into the wrapping of the gift. Just glue. So a sharp letter opener might work and eventually I will open it…. very carefully.
The child who gave me this gift is one of my art students. Art teachers are not on the top of the list when parents and children buy presents for their teachers. I have never felt entitled to gifts anyway. The joy of teaching the students about art is gift enough for me and when I receive the drawings and artwork that they eagerly bring to me when they come to class it’s like Christmas every day. I keep their art and display it. Then I put it in a student art scrapbook.
None of my students will ever see their artwork cast into the trash. But that’s just me. When I first began to teach art I didn’t like it very much at all. I didn’t have patience and that was a major frustration. But as the years have gone by I have grown into a teacher who appreciates the talents and gifts that each child brings.
The student who gave me the beautifully decorated home made package is a very uniquely talented and whimsical child. I know that the gift inside the package will be as delightful as the packaging.
The anticipation is delicious.
What is the true gift of Christmas? The eternal gift that Jesus gave to all of us.
Yesterday I went to an art workshop/Share Day for art teachers in Paris, Arkansas. The workshop was excellent, full of ideas and art lessons as well as hands-on activities. The workshop was led by the art teacher at Paris, High School.
It was the best art seminar/workshop I have ever attended. The above art piece was done by all the art teachers who attended the workshop yesterday. It was inspired by a “journey.” Each of us was asked to brainstorm what a “journey” would mean to us. Then, we were asked to paint our journey.
My part of the painting is the Cathedral of Notre Dame with the sea of blue around it. Now that I think of it, that was an appropriate addition to the piece since I was painting in Paris, AR and the cathedral is in Paris, France.
That didn’t occur to me yesterday but that is not surprising. The entire day was an art experience. I didn’t take notice of the time as I have done in some workshops. If anything, the time passed by too quickly.
We almost lost the yellow house with the bad perspective a week ago last Thursday.
I was out, and had an art substitute who was teaching for me in the “new” artroom which is inside the school. The elementary school has been undergoing a big renovation in the past two years. Many new classrooms, new offices and a lovely new cafeteria with a large stage have been added. The old auditorium has been divided into two parts and I have the largest part and the music teacher will have the part with the stage.
The reason why I was not at school a week ago last Thursday is because my daughter-in-law and son were experiencing the birth of their first daughter, (and my husband and my first granddaughter) Marlee Michelle, who weighed in at 8lbs, 1oz.
It was a joyful and most wonderful day.
Not so at my dear elementary school, which is the school that I went to as a child and the school I love and want to help. When I went to school there as a little girl there was no integration. The school was all white. There were no art, music or P.E. teachers. The classroom teachers taught everything. There was no air conditioning, we had windows around every room. We had prayer in school, a Jewish boy read the story of Luke when we performed the Christmas program. We were allowed to walk home for lunch and walk back to school afterwards. If we were in trouble with our teacher we were in trouble with our parents. My teachers encouraged me to write, draw, and create scenery for plays which we performed ofen. We ran track and were always the number one school in town for track meets.
The demographics at my old school have changed radically but the school is still beloved to me. The students are still the same at heart. They are like I was, with the same hopes and dreams and I am there to help them succeed at them. That is my personal goal for my school and so many of my fellow teachers feel the same way. I’ve heard my principal say often that our school has the hardest working teachers in our school district and I agree. I see them in action and I know that to be true. No one can count public education out when you walk through the school where I teach art.
Our grand Open House is coming up soon and everyone has been scrambling to get moved into their new classrooms. The moment the classroom teacher moved out of her temporary digs which was the half of the old auditorium into her new classroom I asked the principal for permission to move into the school from my mobile classroom outside. It was a wonderful place to teach for three years but truth be told, much too small and always worrisome when the children needed to go to the bathroom. I had to stand at the door to watch them go into the school and send another child along with my key to get inside the door to the school and hope the child didn’t drop it along the way, especially in the bathroom.
But I had lots of art in the room and I hung the yellow house chalk drawing along one wall and had glorious art prints along all the other walls and I made art history bulletin boards featuring wonderful artists who helped to make our world a more creative place to live. All around the room were the names of the great artists that I wanted the students to remember done in good calligraphy.
I am a neat-freak so I always had things where I wanted and that worked out well in such a small room. I only had one small bookshelf so I had to keep my books moving on a revolving basis and when the principal gave me permission to start to move in the big auditorium half the first thing I took with me were my personal artbooks. (too bad I wasn’t able to move the bookshelf)
Since most of the first grade, second grade and kindergarten teachers were also moving their rooms with only the help of the two school custodians I knew I was more or less on my own so during every school break I was heading back and forth to the old room, grabbing art supplies and paper, some art prints and miscellaneous.
All that had been left in the old auditorium was a tiny old oak desk, five small rectangular tables, and chairs. I had talked the principal into giving me the old teacher mail boxes since we now had a new office and it included a new mail center so when he said yes, I could have it, I was elated. It works well as a place to keep all my classes work and has cabinets below I can use for storage which is a good thing, considering what happened on that fateful Thursday a week ago.
While I was out rejoicing over the birth of my granddaughter, a big truck pulled up behind the school, and stopped in front of my old art room. In to it walked a bunch of men who began to carry out my art cabinet, desk, file cabinet, (full of art history videos) and everything else in the room. Our school custodian saw what was happening and asked them if they had been in contact with the principal and the head man said no, but he had been ordered by the official in charge of buildings and grounds to get the mobile building ready to be moved away so the school would be ready for the Open House on March 15th.
Our custodian informed them that the teacher hadn’t completely moved out of the room and needed the items so they needed to stop and leave the room alone until it could be emptied. But they didn’t stop. The custodian started to move things that he knew I would need such as the rolling art text book cabinet out of the room. One of the fifth grade teachers also saw what was happening and organized her students to get in the room and save the art prints, the art supplies, the white board, the yellow house chalk drawing, The Mona Lisa wall hanging, and many other important art items. The students hand carried all of the art text books (2nd grade - 6th grade) from the old art mobile building into the new room.
All this chaos was happening while the art substitute was teaching the students. She told the fifth graders where to put the saved items and luckily there was plenty of room for them at the end of the very large room. My computer was saved. That was a lucky thing as I had just recently gotten it and hadn’t even been able to install it yet. After five years as an art teacher I had been able to finally scrounge up a used computer and almost lost it.
The next morning, a Friday morning, as I was pulling into the parking lot, I noticed that the mobile building no longer had it’s steps. As I got out of the car and walked towards the school, I saw that the doors were open and the building looked empty. My heart started beating harder as I walked over to the building and looked inside. It was completely empty.
As I walked into my art class inside the building I saw a pile of items inside the room. I sighed a breath of relief when I saw my big black art cabinet sitting in the middle of the room. I looked for my desk and file cabinet and book shelf and art cart and other items but they weren’t there. They had been carried off and stored in a warehouse. Will I get them back? I have been told that I will. I won’t hold my breath.
I returned to the pile and began sorting through. On the table at the end of the room was the Yellow House chalk drawing folded neatly (it’s just made from butcher paper) and it had no damage done to it. I found the Mona Lisa wall hanging and my computer later on that day on the stage in the music room.
I know I can count myself very fortunate to have finally found myself included (along with my fellow music teacher) in a school which honors its art and music. We have a place now, not in closets, not on carts but in rooms of our own. We are also blessed with a fifth grade teacher who has always honored our efforts at our school (along with many other teachers) and in my opinion she elevated her students and taught them what a good deed really is. They did a lot of hard work by saving all the Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, and O’Keeffe prints (and many others) oil pastels, water colors, paper.
In a very small way the fifth grade students were re-enacting a race that took place during World War ll when the Nazis were destroying and stealing the great art in Europe. No, there were no stormtroopers rampaging through the parking lot at our school but the entire contents of the artroom would have been taken had the men not been stopped. At the very least, the students, their teacher and the custodian stopped a bureaucrat’s wasteful destruction.
The film about rescued art of WWII, The Rape of Europa, tells the story in documentary form about the heroic acts of individuals to save the art of our past, our art lineage, from defilement and destruction by the Nazis. I am going to try to find this film to view it. I hope it is being shown in high schools. For some reason, I am not extremely optimistic that it is, although it ought to be.
“The Rape of Europa” (based on the eponymous book by Lynn Nicholas) is a film that needs to be seen by every high school student, college student, history teacher, history buff, art teacher and museumgoer worldwide. It is not about the famous allegorical painting by Titian (1487-1576); it’s a riveting documentary about the theft, destruction and miraculous survival of many of Europe’s artistic and architectural treasures during World War II. “Europa,” by Richard Berge, Bonnie Cohen and Nicole Newham, elicits a visceral weeping for what could have become a total holocaust for Europe’s art and for its national treasures. The film details the race against the Nazi-programmed destruction and theft — mitigated by acts of heroism, sacrifice and determination — that underscores one of the film’s truisms:
“Art is what makes us human.”
My maternal and paternal grandmothers played important roles in my life and I’m lucky my parents let me spend lots of time with both of them. Looking back there was never enough time. Something I heard last night touched me and got me thinking about roles that grandparents play in the lives of grandchildren.
I was talking to my fellow co-conspirator and friend, Myra who is also the grandmother on the maternal side of my grandson, Aidan. I am his paternal grandmother. Myra is his maternal grandmother. How lucky Aidan is to have her.
We had a good time last night spending the last (hopefully) Friday night watching Aidan being an only child, reminding him of that fact and watching carefully (and sometimes painfully) his poor mom who is in her last few days of ordered bed rest.
Our little girl’s room is all ready. Pray, God, that the doctor and the sonogram is right and she really is a girl because there is just too much pink, rose, rosebud-red and lovely sweet little girl items to return and it wouldn’t be fair to a newborn little boy.
Getting back to our little five year old boy, Aidan who told his grandmother, Myra a story the other day as she was taking him to school. He informed her that he remembered what it was like in Heaven before he was born and came to earth. Aidan said that he was in a series of rooms and they kept moving him from room to room. He said he met different people in these rooms. One person he remembers meeting was the first president. “The first president, you say,” Myra said. “Who was that?”
“Well, that was President George Washington!” Aidan said emphatically.
Sitting around with Myra and watching our grandson play is just the best. I wish she lived here but she’s a steel magnolia from Louisiana. She will stay for a month after the baby is born so I will be having more than my usual share of coffee for the next month with one of my very best of friends.
There was always a tea party in me. Perhaps it is genetic. My maternal (and some paternal) ancestors were from New England and were Revolutionaries. My direct ancestor, Ebenezer Whitmarsh built a house in what is now Whitman, Massachusetts in 1714 on ten acres of land (in what was then the wilderness) he had purchased for ten pounds of hard coin. Apparently he was a good builder because the house is still standing. It was up for sale last summer.
Our ancestors contributed to the growth and the goodness of this nation. The Whitmarshes, Haydens, Adams and Faxons were from Braintree, Massachusetts and the Rands hailed from Charleston, Massachusetts. In fact, Nehemiah Rand was a minister and a hatter and owned a part of Bunker Hill but after the British burned Charleston he and his family moved to Lyndeborough, New Hampshire permanently.
Having to flee the city didn’t mean they didn’t fight. Charles Whitmarsh, my direct great something grandfather took off to fight in the Revolutionary War at the age of sixteen and so did my great something grandfathers Benjamin Wright and John Wright. So did Mathew Payne and Josiah Payne. And it came down to taxation without representation. After all the blood, sweat and tears given to the building up of the nation the citizens weren’t willing to let a King from across an ocean send his army to terrorize the people and confiscate the goods the people had worked so hard to produce.
That brings us down to this very day and that so and so in the Oval Office who has in just one month brought such despicable change.
This is what Barack Obama intends to do with the hard working citizens of this country in this day and age. Barack Obama wants to mortage the future of our children and grandchildren, keeping them as renters, unable to take ten pounds of hard coin to build a house as my ancestor, Ebenezer Whitmarsh did and leave it to their children as he did. Why Obama wants to do this, we can only surmise, but stop him, we can, if we join together.
Apparently the American people have had it with the so-called hope and change Obama’s been forcing on the tax-paying, bill-paying producers in this country.
Sissy Willis writes about Rick Santelli, a CNBC host who roused the week with his revolutionary comments about Obama’s distributionist mortgage bailout plan: “Y’know, Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they’re driving ‘54 Chevys, maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit,”
Pajamas Media’s Roger Simon asks, Will there be a ‘Chicago Tea Party’?
I know I do.