Fine art, celebrating life, fun, family and color.

The Elephantworks Studio

"Crafting Freedom," National Endowment for the Humanities, 2015

Winner of the 2018 Judy Chicago Art Education Award For her project, "For the Love of Our Mothers" 



Summer 2015 I was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for summer workshops for teachers K-12. I attended the workshop called "Crafting Freedom." It was a week long immersive, intensive, hands on-participate-all-day for 6 days workshop! I learned so much!


We studied free blacks, enslaved blacks and blacks who purchased their freedom---all who were artisans during the Civil War era.

 

When I cam home and shared wit h my students what I learned about Elizabeth Keckley, they were interested. They were not interested in fashion, but the sewing. so they made all kinds of dolls...ugly, cute, funny grumpy, followed a pattern and made their own designs. 

Michigan Council For the Arts and Cultural Affairs 2017 Awardee for the Mini-grant, Professional Development

Attending this conference is something every professional artist should accomplish! Not only is one exposed to a plethora of creative souls, but one can experience new techniques, learn about business planning, meet national peers, and network with over 5,000 people.


I have attended this incredible conference and my luggage (mentally and physically) is always heavier on the way home! Every artist should be able to explain, defend, and clearly articulate the need for the arts in our  homes, schools and communities.

I spoke on the realities of teaching in an urban school with no money, getting maced, and dealing with no money for no supplies.   I shared the value of making, keeping, and nourishing a personal creative practice. I also shared some of my various projects and why I am motivated to complete them.


I shared how important it is for art teachers to keep and find their inner hot-artist-mojo and not loose it for anything!  I shared how important it is to keep this practice, but at the same time to be active in the community by volunteering...doing service feels great!


In addition, I shared how to build real relationship with kids to get them to make better behavior in the studio spaces. I talked about giving students a choice in the lesson making, letting students have a voice in project design--so they then have a real connection to the art-making space.


I share the realities of my life and how I can connect to the kids through my own experiences: growing up in poverty, in a single parent home, being the survivor and thriver of a sexual assault. I have chosen to not let the acts of other dictate how I will live my life. I make my own choices and I teach my students they can do that too. Students young or old  often feel like what is today--will remain...and this is not true. We can change at any point in our lives.  Kids need to know that change is possible and we talked about this in our workshop.


Teachers need to give up control,  and let the kids have more voice and more power in the classroom.Giving students a voice—not always easy to leave the sensor at home

Kids angry at parents
Kids angry at the “system”
Kids angry at adults for not protecting them
Kids angry at other kids for killings
Kids angry because no one listens, really listens
Kids anger is legit and righteous—don’t ignore it!

Show the kids how to channel the anger into the art making

Kids have a lot love and hope

Show them how to channel the love and hope into their artwork
Make a safe space to create and fail—failure should be celebrated! Blow their young minds! Celebrate failure!
Make a space that is safe to fail, explore, jump off a table
Doesn’t matter the age—but the older they get the harder it is to trust themselves and adults around them as many have been so untrusted and beaten down.

Give sincerity and love, and I mean this in the most professional manner I can “leave the bullshit at home,” These kids have been the victims all their lives, be a strength and a tool that helps them become empowered in their own creativity. Don’t try to be what you are not—if you are white working in a black school address, and share why you are there with kindness, respect and love, don’t disrespect the kids-or their families.

Show processes and let them decide their path of making
Have “soft deadlines,” flexible time frames; if they are working, they are progressing in their own research and knowledge


We also spoke about getting funding, grant writing, and how to get grants to get great supplies for use in the poverty stricken classroom.



Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs  2016 Awardee for professional development to support attendance at the National Art Education Annual Conference, NYC, NY.

...and again in 2018

More Recent Activities  are towards the bottom of the Page...

23 November 2018  Arts for Education Conference, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Attending the National Art Education Association National Conference 2015

My presentation in Toronto is called "Art in MY Pocket for Forever Inclusion" The presentation will include a slide show, the lecture notes and the handout notes which is on the page here "Professional Development"


The presentation is to challenge visual arts educators to teach, include and allow students to learn about artists that are not dead, white men.  The artists are women, deaf, blind, of African descent,  from all over the world--and kids need to  see the work of these artist, learn about their lives and hear their voices as they learn to share their own voice as they grow and make art. 

Presenting at the Pennsylvania Art Education Association annual Conference -- 2018 Harrisburg, PA

 Summer 2016 --Attended the Summer Institute at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Attending this workshop was amazing! I probably cannot say that enough! Participants were able to see original Renaissance wood block prints, etchings--that were delicate, full of such detail. 

Participants were able to listen to experts in the field talk about the realities of  several Renaissance Artists, their work, their accomplishments, their challenges and their legacy. The lectures were illuminating. Participants were able to do studio activities, activities that could  easily be transferred and adopted for classroom use.


  • Activities like journaling--like Leonardo; printmaking--like Deurer; painting in lovely layers of glaze--like Titian; Madonna and Child images that could  easily be used to allow student to create contemporary image of Madonna and her child.
  • I was able to see a great Kehinde Wiley--a lovely painting of LL Cool J; I was able to see  one of m all time favorite painters, Judyth Leyster. Enjoy the Slides!         

2018
Remaking Monsters and Heroines
Adapting Classic Literature for Contemporary Audiences
A two-week institute for thirty-six school teachers on Frankenstein, Cinderella, and the adaptations of these classic texts.

National Endowment of the Humanities summer Institute + University of Arkansas 2018 National Endowment for the the humanities participant


I created and curated the project to show my students that their Moms are real people that function outside of the role "mother" and that each is always in the role of "woman." 


Students had to interview their female care giver ( Moms, grandmothers, aunties,  while some, insisted on interviewing their fathers. At one point in the process I had  a student bring me a signed form--signed by a behavior specialist in the school--not the parent, or relative raising the child, but a man, who regularly disrespected me and other women staff members. The student was not allowed to interview and use him for the project. I find it interesting, that as I win an award from a feminist artist, to complete a project that supports women--that a man wanted to force himself, as if he has a right,  into a project about women! But some men feel they have a right and power, even black men, they act with a white supremacist, patriarchal  ideology and treat others, namely all the mothers, grandmothers, and aunties that were participants with disrespect. 


But I did not let him treat the women in such a manner.


After the interviews, student had to chose a word to describe their moms. The words were candid, real, happy and heartbreaking. I did not change their words. Only  two kids were able to repeat words but the words were for the most part, not repeated. Participants then created a symbol to describe their Moms...the outcome is incredible and the finished product can be seen in the quilt above.


Each student made a 12x12 inch quilt square that I took and sewed together to make a large quilt. The quilt is amazing.

Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, 2015 Awardee for professional development to attend the National Art Education Association's annual conference, Chicago, IL.

Made by my students: Water by Jaried, Earth by Zaccaria and Fire by Ladarius.