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April Showers Bring May Flowers

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” – Stevie Wonder

For the last few classes, students have been working on drawing flowers. The focus of this project is on drawing from observation, abstraction of composition, and color, light, and contrast. But they have held their mothers in their hearts as they worked.

I introduced the project with a demo on oil pastels and looking closely, my drawing as I did so projected on the screen through a document camera. Students then had time that first class to practice using the medium. When they were ready they bravely took a 12″ x 18″ sheet of black construction paper with the intent to cover the page in flowers – not in a row, not all going in the same direction, but as if they had been strewn across the page. Students were encouraged to allow the flowers to break the boundaries of the page by drawing partial flowers on the edge. Throughout three classes they looked closely, sketched what they saw, revised and persisted. I think they came out beautifully, especially as the sky darkens with clouds again today. The flowers are hanging in the lobby for all to enjoy.

These fantastic flower drawings have been uploaded to Artsonia and the students have written Artist Statements about their work there. They can be found at this link: https://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?project=1773743

Enjoy! And Happy Mother’s Day!

Flowers on the lobby boards

Kyle Miller

Hannah Le

Nick Martin

Ella Martin

Elizabeth Soares

Isabella Papamitrou

Hayley Gibson

Elyse Rich

Susan Barrows

Paige Anderson

Charlotte St. Pierre

Ben Krause

Marlee Briere

Samantha Carroll

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The Names Dress (With My Name!)

“There is no limit to beauty, no saturation point in design, no end to the material” – Salvatore Ferragamo

Today I’m honored and excited to share the news that my name has been included in the Names Dress, which is on display at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence, Italy! The Names Dress is a wearable, compostable conceptual art piece engineered with over 300 handwritten, 3D printed names of women in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) designed by Sylvia HeiselI’m incredibly flattered to be included in the same company as the other women whose names comprise the dress – I am in awe of them. For example, just look at these inspirational names: Elizabeth Blackwell, Florence Nightingale, Hedy Lamarr, Hypatia, Jane Goodall, Laurie Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, Sally Ride, and SO many more! What?! WOW!

The Names Dress is a tribute to women, known and unknown (yours truly), historic and contemporary, in the interconnected and evolving STEAM fields. The Names Dress is also an exploration of the use of sustainable materials and techniques in creating innovative textiles and garments. It is a magnificent creation by the brilliant Sylvia Heisel and partners, including Sophia Georgiou, developer of Morphi App, which is the 3D modeling app we use in my art classroom.

Here is a photo of the Names Dress:

The Names Dress

You can see a video of the Names Dress here: https://vimeo.com/314050520

Some of the “A” names

My name is here and looks like this:

Sketch of the Names Dress

The 3D printed “fabric”

The Names Dress is currently on exhibit for a year at the Sustainable Thinking Exhibition at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence, Italy from April 12, 2019 through March 8, 2020. Florence! Italy!!!

Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Art Show at the Miscoe Hill EXPO

The Art Show at the Miscoe Hill EXPO, being held Wednesday night in conjunction with a French class showcase with Mrs. Shilale, and Crossfit in the lower gym with Mr. McInnis.

On this magical evening, the red wing hallway will be illuminated only with luminary lights in decorative vessels prepared by the 5-8 art students. As you continue down the hallway and make a left turn by the district office and go left again, you’ll find artwork on display in the art hallway as well as in my classroom and Mr. Hansen’s classroom.

The artwork in the show is from all three terms thus far. All of the artwork not included in the show due to spacial limitations can always be found in the Miscoe Hill galleries at Artsonia.com here.

The Art Show at the Miscoe EXPO is open from 6-8pm. It is a drop-in, not drop-off activity, We are very excited to showcase the Miscoe Hill artwork. Please join us!

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Charcoal Still Life Drawings at the Art Show at the Miscoe EXPO

“All the visible world is only light on form.” Andrew Loomis

For the past few weeks, my fifth grade students have been creating charcoal still life drawings. They began by sketching a still life positioned in the middle of the table, while observing light, shadow, and form in their sketchbooks. We had explored ellipses just before undertaking this assignment, and this was a great chance to employ that knowledge in an authentic project. Students were learning to see, yet also un-see labels on containers and decorative motifs on vases, to focus on light, shadow, form, shape, perspective, and spacial relationship.

Still life

For most students, this was their first experience with charcoal and found themselves either impressed or dismayed by the dark darks they effortlessly achieved. Blending with blending stumps or tortillas was also a new experience, as was using a kneaded eraser. Most exciting was learning that both the stump and eraser could be used as drawing tools, especially when using the eraser to return light to the form.

Maya Williamson: First, I drew out the outline of the shapes I saw from my angle of the table. Next, I shaded and blended in the shapes where the objects looked darker or lighter. I also drew a horizon line, the table, in the background. To complete my still life, I shaded in the background, and erased the finger prints. I feel like I got better at blending, and I learned that things look different from far away. I also had lots of fun making much still life come to life.

Students then took a photo with her/his iPad, cropped out everything but the drawing, and uploaded it to Artsonia where they also added an Artist Statement.

Ryan May: This charcoal still life took about 4 classes to finish but I’d say it was worth it. I had to mostly do shading and lighting to make I look like it had a shadow. I maybe could have erased a lot of the fingerprint marks and marks around the still life but I also feel like if I did was this whole thing again, I would probably do better shading on the shapes. The process to make this artwork was drawing out the shapes, shading them in, then coloring the background, and then after doing the shadows around the still life, blending the all the charcoal together. So, after those 4 classes, I think I did well on this artwork.

Estella Soares

Marley Loucks: First, I started by sketching the still life and drawing the shadows. Then, I shaded all of my sketches and started to do the background. Lastly, I shaded in the background and erased all of my fingerprints off the bottom. I feel like it came out good but I could have done better. If I were to do it again, I would make the background a little bit more down and I would make the shadows a little bit more dark.

Ella Martin: First I drew the objects. Then I shaded the objects. After that I drew the shadows. And finally I shaded and blended the background. I feel that it came out good. I might make the background better next time.

Kaycie Gardner: I made this art by first looking at the still life then I drew it with charcoal pencil. When I was done I started shading to make shadows by using some of the charcoal tools. Then I drew a horizontal line in the back and then shaded on top of it so that it made it look like it was on a table. Then I I made it lighter in some spots and darker in the other spots to make it look even more real. I feel that my art came out good, I may be able to do a little better next time, but I think I did my best and it came out real good! What I might do differently next time is that I might put my shadows in different spots, and I may put the still life more in the middle of the page. But I think it come out good, and that is how I made my art!

Anna Tsuchiya: I think that if I was going to do it again then I would try to get less finger prints on my drawing because I spent a lot of time trying to erase them. I think my still life is pretty good compared to how weird looking some of my art is. My favorite step was the blending because for some reason it satisfied me to see the lines I made combine together. It looks like it could do with some improving but I think over all I did a pretty good job!

Aiden Fayer: I started by making a light outline.Then I made the shading then the shadows and last the back ground.I really like how it came out.The only thing I dont feel goodd about is the background. I woulldd make the background lighter and more blended.

Orianna Murphy: To make this artwork I used a charcoal pencil and a eraser. I first sketched the basic shapes in. I then shaded by blending the charcoal with a blending stick. I finally did the background creating a dark shadow line giving the effect of a table. I feel like this art came out very well, the shading turned out better then I thought it would. If I where to do this project again I would spread the shapes out a little more instead of having them all clustered in the center of the page.

Devan Rankins: I used techniques such as shading, light, shadow, and blending. I don’t think it came out that good. Be neater. I first drew what thing I saw, then I drew some details. After that I started drawing shadows, then the background.

Michael Albert: My process was first I put all of the objects down and then I started to shade then I used the shading stick and then I started to do my backround.How I feel about how it came out, I thought it came out pretty well it just that I need to shade more and try to erase the finger prints. If I were to do anything differently I would shade the objects more.

This artwork and so much more will be on display at the Art Show at the Miscoe EXPO on Wednesday, April 10 from 6-8pm.

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Watercolor Abstraction at the Art Show at Miscoe EXPO

Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.Arshile Gorky

For the past few weeks, my sixth grade students have been working on watercolor still life arrangements abstracted through contour continuation.

Grace Joseph – This abstraction was made at first by looking at the still life. I drew the still life onto my water color paper and then did my contour continuation. After the countour continuation I started to water color each segment of the abstraction. I used warm colors for the still life and cool colors for the background. After I was done with the water coloring I went over the lines with a black sharpie. I think that my abstraction came out okay. I think that it could have been better with staying in the lines with the water color.

They began by sketching a still life positioned in the middle of the table, while observing light, shadow, and form in their sketchbooks. We had explored ellipses just before undertaking this assignment, and this was a great chance to employ that knowledge.

Still life

They then made another sketch, drawing just the contour of the objects and continuing the contour lines beyond the outline of the objects to fracture the picture plane. This was a big jump.

When painting, to differentiate the objects from the background, students applied warm or cool colors to the objects and the opposite to the background. The final step was to go over all the contour lines with black Sharpie. The artists then took a photograph of the painting and uploaded it to Artsonia, where they also added an Artist Statement.

Jessica Clemons – To create this abstraction, I started off by closely observing the still life in front of me. I notice the overlaps and heights, placements and size of each individual object. I then drew what I saw, making sure to represent the appereance of some objects being farther away from others. After I finished that, I used contour continuation, stretching lines from each corner of the objects, and every corner after that, then I was ready to paint. I chose to paint the objects the warm colors, and the background the cool colors. The last step was going in and tracing every pencil line with sharpie, making it look bolder and better. I am very pleased at how this came out and I was to do it again, I was be more careful with the paints, and realize that I had much more time.

Kyle Miller – I think it came out pretty decent. I would do warm colors as the shapes. I could do cool colors as the background

Hayden Gleason – The process I used to make this artwork was still life first because I copied down the objects on the paper. Second, I did abstraction because I drew the objects. Third, I used contour continuation to draw the lines out randomly. Fourth, I used the warm and cool colors. I feel it came out really good. I might go over the colors again because some are dull.

Jocelyn Graham – The process I used to make this artwork is first I drew the still life. Second I did contour continuations to make many lines. Third I water color painted the still life with warm colors and the background with cool colors. Fourthly I used a sharpie to draw on the contour lines to finish the abstract art. I think that the art I made came out pretty well. If I were to do this again what I would do differently is I would make it so there is less white space.

Kayla Vallecillo – I feel great about my still-life abstraction, the contour continuation is complex as well as simple, and the colors are vivid and bright. If I could do this project again, I would make less lines in the contour continuation. I would also add less water to the brush so that the colors don’t sleep into eachother. I liked hot the painting had warm colors for the objects and cool colors for the background. It attracts attention to the objects, and overall I enjoy the final product.

Kayla Aubut – To make this piece, first I drew the shapes, then I used contour continuation to continue the lines to the end of the paper. Then I filled the shapes with water color (the objects where cool colors and the outside was warm colors). Finally, I sharpied the lines. I do like the end product, but I wish it was less blended. I would have painted the squares separately, because the colors bled into each other.

Harmony Melendez-Torres: I think my artwork came out really well. If I were to do it again I would draw the objects larger. I had decided to use cool colors for the still life and warm colors for the background because most people decided to do it the other way around, so I did the opposite for it to be different. I think I did a pretty good job with my contour lines and abstraction.

This artwork and so much more will be on display at the Art Show at the Miscoe EXPO on Wednesday, April 10 from 6-8pm.

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Art In The Valley 2019

Once again, I have the pleasure of congratulating some of my fifth and sixth grade students on having work selected for an art show. Thus one is the Art in the Valley show in Blackstone this Friday night and Saturday until noon.

Art in the Valley

Hartnett Middle School, Blackstone

Friday, April 5, 2019 6:00-8:00 pm, Opening Reception

Saturday, April 6, 2019 10:00-12:00 noon, Show

Sponsored by a generous donation from the Blackstone Valley Education Foundation

Between the 4 K-8 schools in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District, 60 pieces of artwork will be exhibited!

Here are my students who will have work in the show:

Miscoe Hill Art in the Valley 2019 Artists

Top row: Ethan LaRue (7), Ella Halnon (6), Eliza Kurze (6), Theo Bates (6)

Second row: Conor Belleville (6), Sophia Blalock (6), Kassity Walker (6), Finn Lozeau (5)

Third row: Kayla Aubut (6), Molly Dishington (5), Brooke Ferlo (5), Fallon Lozano (6)

Fourth row: Brynn DiAnni (5), Finn Lozeau, Kyle Moran, Mason Kirkpatrick, Irelyn Bradley (5), Armaan Priyadarshan (6)

And their work:

The Art in the Valley Artwork

Let me afford you a closer look at their work:

Theo Bates
Digital Art

Fallon Lozano
Sketchbook ZoneDoodle in Marker

Eliza Kurze
Clay Coil Animal

Kayla Aubut
3D Printed City Buildings

Brooke Ferlo
Charcoal Still Life

Ethan LaRue
3D Printed Castle 4a Friend

Irelyn Bradley, Mason Kirkpatrick, Kyle Moran, Finn Lozeau
Product Redesign Promo Pieces

Brynn DiAnni
Clay Pinch Pot

Sophia Blalock
Clay Tile

Ella Halnon
Vacation Memory in Marker

Molly Dishington
Clay Lion’s Head

Conor Belleville
Digital Self Portrait

Armaan Priyadarshan
Watercolor Abstraction

Finn Lozeau
Digital ZoneDoodle

Brynn Dianni
Clay Coil Pot

All of these wonderful artworks will also be on display at the Miscoe Hill Art Show at the Miscoe EXPO in the Miscoe Hill Art Rooms on Wednesday, April 10, 6-8 pm.

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Reflection: My Wicked SmART #NAEA19 Experience

Teachers believe they have a gift for giving; it drives them with the same irrepressible drive that drives others to create a work of art or a market or a building. – A. Bartlett Giamatti

It has been two weeks since 6000 art educators descended on Boston for the 2019 National Art Education Association annual convention. Imagine 6000 driven teachers who are as driven by their passion for art. Wicked SmART!

This is my reflective post after the event. Given that it was 4 days and 4 nights of nonstop activity, it’s a rather long post. To hopefully make it manageable, I’m dividing it by the days of the week and I’m including a boatload of photos, which will hopefully tell a 1000 words (each).

It was my pleasure to have been part of the hosting committee for the convention. We started meeting last June and have met at least monthly for the past year. When I think back on all the discussions we had and the decisions we made, I am really proud of the way the convention came together.

The Massachusetts Art Education Association’s logo for the convention


Tuesday began as a regular school day except that my suitcases were packed and waiting for the minute I got home from work. I left 3 days of sub plans and had the helpful advantage of going over the plans with my sub during the day. I had been laying down the groundwork for a few classes for the project underway, so I felt pretty good about the students being able to continue their work in my absence. Fifth grade students were working on charcoal still life drawings.

Fifth grade artists at work on charcoal still life drawings

Charcoal still life drawing in progress

When I got out of work, I flew home and jumped in my husband’s truck and off we went to drop me in Boston. When I checked in and got to my room, I was pleased to have a view toward Fenway AND a view toward Cambridge.

My view out the left side of my window at the Sheraton – Citgo sign dead ahead

Later that evening I met my friend Samantha for dinner at the Top of the Hub in the Prudential building. Samantha is a longtime NAEA and Twitter art education friend from Texas, who nominated me for the National Middle Level Art Educator of the Year award. We share a love of water and sweeping vistas, and I knew the Top of the Hub would afford us both of those things. The restaurant and views did not disappoint and as a bonus, it was Restaurant Week in Boston, so the Prix Fixe price was right, too.

Samantha and the view from the Top of the Hub

Samantha and me at the Top of the Hub

The view from the Top of the Hub

Creme brûlée – oh so good


Waking up in Boston with a view of the Charles River and Cambridge beyond

I watched the sun come up over the Charles on Wednesday morning, taking a last chance to get my daily schedules in order before the pre-conference session began with a 7:30am bus ride to the Boston Center for the Arts on Tremont Street. I was excited to participate in the Supervisor Summit Media Arts event.

Usually conventions find me scrambling for food as the schedule is so intense and there is no time for meals. I’m happy to say our sponsor, Davis Publications, kept us well fed throughout the day.

Thanks to Davis Publishing, we ate well all day! This is breakfast!

And this was a snack later on – popcorn with truffle oil – yummers!

After breakfast, we enjoyed keynote speaker Ben Forta, on the topic of The Case for Creativity in the Classroom. Then Rob Sandagata and Karl Cole put the Media Arts in context with an historical overview and lots of imagery. Next up was a tour of the artist spaces at the Boston Center for the Arts. This was invigorating and exciting to see working artists and listen to them talk about their work. Although we didn’t meet the artist of this painting, it was hanging on display. The palette matched my mood:

Touring studio spaces at the Boston Center for the Arts This piece is by Victor F. Ortale

And then there was a panel discussion followed by break-out sessions. The break out sessions were exciting and hands on, which I was grateful for at that point in the day. I especially enjoyed being back in the Apple fold, learning about and trying new apps.

Apple’s Everyone Can Create Teacher Guide

Apps we used during the Media Arts event

Ebook: Fostering Creativity with iPad

Matt Brooks, Apple

I also enjoyed learning about Adobe’s powerhouse trio of Spark apps: Page, Post, and Video, with Ben Forta:

Ben Forta, Senior Director of Education Initiatives, Adobe

It was super fun to be with Barbara Liedahl, who I met at ISTE 16 in Denver, here presenting on paper circuits:

Barbara Liedahl

After the break out sessions there were even more refreshments, including adult beverages, and then we boarded the bus back to the convention. Davis Publications was kind enough to compile all the resources from the day on a page at this link.

Wednesday Evening

Later that evening, I met up with ten friends who I know from the Massachusetts Art Education Association and others from across the country, who I know from Twitter. I had arranged this Tweet-up with a reservation at Summer Shack, right near the hotel. Needless to say, we had a great time:

Wednesday night dinner with Twitter friends: L to r: @ConantArt, @MarottaArt, @smelvin, @GrundlerArt, @stacy_lord, @ArtLadyHBK, @bellafiore3, @MonaLisaLvsHeah, @ArtGuy76, @TheresaMcGee

I loved watching my non-New England friends wrestle with lobsters


Thursday started long before sun up

Thursday was going to be action packed, so I got up pretty early to make sure “all my ducks were in a row”. The first  event was Amy Sherald’s opening address. I wanted to get there early in order to get a good seat.

naea - 1 (1)

On my way to seeking the perfect seat, I stumbled upon (not literally) these two California artsed friends/Photo by Don Masse

Amy Sherald is most well known for having painted Michelle Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. Her reflection on the lack of representation of people of color in art museums and the mainstream culture was poignant and powerful. She is dynamic!

Amy Sherald takes the stage

Amy showed us her progress through her various portraits

Of course she spoke about her portrait of Michelle Obama, now hanging in the National Gallery in DC

Following Amy’s talk, I hurried to the Massachusetts Art Education Association (MAEA) table to help out. Those of us on the MAEA board had signed up for time slots to make sure there was coverage at the table. Every time I reported for duty there were several people there to help out. This first morning, we began selling the MAEA T-shirts right after the Amy Sherald event. The table was packed! We sold out of T-shirts within the first hour! Quick thinking Melissa Mastrolia (President Elect) created an online order option for those who were interested. Last count was somewhere around 500!

Working the Massachusetts Art Education Association table

The shirt was very popular!

At the MAEA table, we also had a free raffle of a Shepard Fairey signed print, 3 paintings by Boston artist, Bren Bataclan, and a Maker tools basket from Mobile Makerspace of Cape Cod. Using a list of restaurants curated by art teachers, I designed a document called Wicked SmART Eats, which we had on display with a QR code to the docs with active links to the restaurant websites. Last but not least, we passed out Wicked SmART stickers. (I passed these out all over Boston, to be truthful).

Our Wicked SmART eats poster

Leaving the table around 11am, I ordered an Uber for a ride to Harpoon Brewery over in the Seaport. I had arranged a tour for 15 people to tour the Autodesk Build Space followed by a tour of Harpoon Brewery with photography privileges. The brewery tour is only offered at 4:00 and I couldn’t reserve tickets ahead of the day, so I wanted to be there around when they opened at 11:00 in order to purchase tickets for the tour to ensure our group’s inclusion. My driver waited in the car  while I ran in and purchased the tickets. They even stuck a Wicked SmART sticker on the bar for good measure.

After my shift at the table I took an Uber to the Seaport to pick up tickets for the afternoon tour group

I had arranged three Boston tours for the art educators. I honestly thought they wouldn’t fill. But they did, all three of them! Two of them were scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon, and the other one on Friday. Fortunately, Brandy Jackson of Mobile Makerspace was able to cover the Autodesk/Harpoon tour for me. (Thank you, Brandy!)

Next up was a return Uber trip to the convention center to meet the bus for the Harvard Square/Harvard Museum of Natural History tour I was leading at 12:30. My Uber driver delivered me in time and I met the group along with Tom, the bus driver.

Our bus for the Harvard Walking/Sketching Tour

On the way over to Cambridge I shared the landmarks we passed with the people on the bus, and Tom pitched in wherever I lagged. We arrived at the kiosk in the square, unloaded and walked into Harvard Yard. To follow are some photos of our experience.

Our tour group at the gate to Harvard Yard

These two students were so helpful in sharing information about their work, including sharing 300 year old pipe stems and china.

The archeology class in the yard

At the John Harvard statue

On the steps of the Harvard Art Museums overlooking Sever Hall

When we were on the steps of the Harvard Art Museums, Brandon (below) stopped on his way up the stairs and said, “Hey, so I’m already late for class. Is there anything I can help you with? Any questions I can answer?” I replied, “Well as a matter of fact, we are all teachers, and together we could probably write you one heck of a late pass.” We all laughed, but some people did have some great questions. Also, Brandon told us that we were touring on Housing Day, when sophomores find out which dorm they’ll be in for the next 3 years. He had been selected for Mather House (as you can tell by his clothing and headband) and was pretty excited about it.

Brandon takes questions

The next stop for the group was the Harvard University Museum of Natural History to tour the glass flowers exhibit and do some sketching in the exhibit rooms. My friend, Eva Kearney, was taking over for me here as I had to get back to the Back Bay for the awards ceremony. (Thank you, Eva!)

At the Museum of Natural History

Another Uber brought me back to the convention center where I found the room where the NAEA Art Education Technology group were having their awards ceremony. I took a moment to congratulate my friend, Christopher Sweeney, who I had nominated for the Outstanding Teacher award he was about to receive. I was sorry to have missed the ceremony, but I had to get up to the hotel to get ready for the NAEA National Awards.

Stopped by to see Chris prior to his award recognition

The NAEA National Awards were at 4:00 in the Hynes Auditorium. I had just enough time to scoot up to my room at the Sheraton and change clothes before they started. It was a rush, but I made it in plenty of time. Being named 2019 National Middle Level Art Educator of the Year is truly an honor. To be able to receive the award in my home city was even more special. It went something like this:

The awards program




Seth Freeman Photography

With Kim Huyler Defibaugh and Pete Curran /Photo by Sarah Dugan

With Samantha Melvin, my friend and nominator

The beautiful glass award

The certificate of award

The award experience was truly exhilarating and afterward I met up with friends to celebrate. From there we went to the NAEA Opening party, followed by the Artisans Marketplace, where art educators sell their wares, and finally at 9:30 pm, to the Capital Grille for dinner and celebration with longtime MAEA friends. It was a long, awesome day!

Dinner at the Capital Grille


I had an early morning commitment at the MAEA table on Friday. The crowd had calmed down from the day before, yet there was a steady stream of people wanting to buy shirts and asking questions about the area, mostly about food and museums. Maybe in that order.

Working the MAEA table with Kay Furst on Friday morning

After an hour or so, I went to the auditorium early to save a seat  for my colleague, Jess Fowler, to see Peter H. Reynolds. Peter was funny, tender, and wears his compassion on his sleeve. A few years ago, Peter featured one of my students in his magazine Hutch as she told her story about how his book The Dot had influenced her artistic journey.

With Mendon Upton colleague Jess Fowler in the front row for Peter H. Reynolds

Peter H. Reynolds

Peter H. Reynolds

The themes of the books by Peter H. Reynolds

After Peter’s talk, I scurried over to the Boston Public Library where I met my tour group for our docent led tour of the art and architecture of the library followed by a Copley Square tour. The group gathered outside, and once we ascended the steps, we were off.

Our group for the Boston Public Library tour in front of the museum

Gathered in the lobby before going up the stairs

Ascending the stairs under the watchful eye of the lions

Among the murals

Among the murals

The John Singer Sargent murals

In the courtyard

In Bates Hall

It seemed like the minute we stepped outside on completing the tour, the wind kicked up and the air grew cooler. The winds of weather change were in Copley Square, but we were not deterred as we explored Trinity Church, the Copley monument, Old South Church, the Kahlil Gibran and Tortoise and the Hare monuments, the marathon finish line, and Newbury Street.

Standing with John Singleton Copley

Copley Square

Meanwhile, during the tour, the NAEA Eastern Region gathered to have their own awards ceremony. I was being acknowledged as National Middle Level Art Educator at this event as a Team EAST teacher. Because I was leading a tour at this time, Melissa Mastrolia, President Elect of MAEA, accepted my award gifts for me. (Thank you Melissa!)

Program from the Eastern Region award ceremony

A gift from the Eastern Region (Team EAST)

A note from the Massachusetts Art Education Association

Fantastic sketchbook gift from the MAEA

On my return from the windy tour, I was feeling the effects of the sinus infection, asthma, and bronchitis that had started the week prior to the convention. Still on Prednisone for the asthma, I had rallied through the first 3 days, but it caught up to me with the wind in Copley Square. On my way back to the hotel I picked up some hot soup and Tylenol and took a little break to rest up before the Friday night fun began.

Hitting a wall – a little self care

And then Friday night began! I had invitations to many meet ups, four of which were taking place between 4:30 and 8pm. With a little help from Uber, I expected to at least drop in on all of them. The first was with the “way back” MAEA crew:

Tim O’Connor and Eva Kearney – two long time MAEA friends

And then the MassArt mingle in the beautiful Design and Media Center:

Mass Art mingle with Mosie and Eva

Although I graduated from MassArt with a BFA in Painting, not education, my recent interaction with pre-service art teachers made me feel right at home:

MassArt mingle with Billy Claire and Eva Kearney

From there we Ubered up to the Pour House where the #K12ArtChat people were gathered. This meet up gave me a chance to at least say hello to friend, Tricia Fuglestad, who was otherwise busy showing people how to use the Doink products.

At the #K12ArtChat meet up with Tricia Fuglestad

It was good to have a relaxed moment to catch up with Christopher Sweeney and Sophia Georgiou at this event, too:

At the #K12ArtChat meet up with Christopher Sweeney and Sophia Georgiou (Morphi app developer)

From the Pour House, it was a quick walk over to Summer Shack, where the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) force was meeting for dinner. Although I didn’t eat, I had a chance to say hello to many friends I had met at the summer TAB course at MassArt:

Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) meet up at Summer Shack – pictured here are Kathy Douglas, Pauline Joseph, Diane Jaquith/ Photo by Roni Rohr


Saturday morning view over the Charles to Cambridge

I was pretty excited about Saturday morning. This was the day my education guru, Dr. Howard Gardner, would be speaking to the art teachers! I’ve heard Dr. Gardner speak many times and I always take away something that I end up thinking about for days. I enjoy his humor and I respect his insight. Of course I got there early to get in the front row again and was happy to be seated with my Texas art education friends and Massachusetts art educator, Sarah Tomkins.

Samantha, me, Sarah, Laura and Matt

With Pete Curran before Dr. Howard Gardner

Dr. Howard Gardner

The giant audience full of art educators nearly lost their minds with applause when Dr. Gardner said, “It may be true that going into the arts will improve math scores but we all know that nobody goes into art to improve math scores, they go into it because they love it and they love to use their minds.” Boom

The slide below was Dr. Gardner’s way of acknowledging his wife, Dr. Ellen Winner, who all art teachers know from her work as co-author of Studio Thinking. In fact, when we were making keynote suggestions last June, I mentioned the idea of a shared keynote between Winner and Gardner. That might have been awesome.

Dr. Gardner discussed his work on Multiple Intelligences and pleaded with the audience to please, never confuse multiple intelligences with learning styles.

He also discussed his current work on The Good Project.

Buoyed by an excellent keynote, I went off to find the space where MAEA was having a meet up prior to their awards ceremony. During a hosting committee meeting, when we had discussed refreshments for the meet up, I pitched the idea of whoopee pies (because they’re fun), and I’m happy to say, we got them!

Whoopie Pies

At the event I saw many people I don’t get to see every often:

With Kathy Douglas at the MAEA award ceremony

At the MAEA award ceremony with Ruth Starrett and Kristi Oliver

And I was pleased to be in the room when we remembered our former MAEA leader and friend to all, John Michael Gray, for the first official time since his passing in 2016. It was great to see the book many of us contributed to then, presented to John Michael’s life partner, Tim O’Connor, at the award ceremony. One day I would love to see the book and treasure the memories of John Michael Gray.

MAEA honored the late, great John Michael Gray at this event

After the MAEA awards, I scurried up to my room and gathered my things in order to check out, yet leave my suitcase at the desk. When I got downstairs, I realized I was not the only one doing so, and had to wait a half an hour while the hotel found room for all the luggage. I don’t think they anticipated all the stuff art teachers would make and collect during the convention; it’s probably different for a business convention.

Last shot of the beautiful view before checking out and leaving my luggage at the front desk – note the sailboats on the Charles

My last official commitment was to participate in a panel discussion with the middle level award winners in the various regions. Because Peter Curran, then Director of the Middle Level Division, has done this before, he made it very easy for us, with a brief introduction and then questions from the attendees. It was fun.

Middle Level Award winners

Middle Level Award winners panel discussion

After this session, our MAEA hosting committee was meeting in the Exhibit Hall to take care of any items that were being left behind. Once that obligation was fulfilled, I was off to meet a few friends for beverages before the Leadership Reception a little later on.

I’ve got to say, the “light hors d’oeuvres” were delightful, as were the beverages and the company. It was so nice to relax and know that everything was finished. As pre-arranged, I exited the party at 7:30, gathered my luggage and stepped outside just as my husband, like a knight in shining armor, pulled up to the door. It was seamless. And it was beautiful!

Home sweet home

Waking up the next day to ordinary wonderful things, I was still flying high, but grateful to be home. I realized, though, just how sick I was and that I hadn’t shaken the respiratory issues I’d been powering through. I ended up taking an extra day to get my strength before returning to work.

When I got back to school, my students were about mid-way through the project I had introduced before I left. I could tell by their progress that the substitute teacher had been attentive and followed all the instructions (Thank you Rosa!)

Artists at work

And then at the end of the day, our principal gathered the staff to announce my award and share a congratulatory cake. How nice!

Two weeks later now, it is all officially over. I’m so grateful to the many people who helped me out with my scheduling conflicts. I’m so happy to have spent time with my friends from across the country, friends I maintain relationships with on Twitter and Facebook. I’m glad to have reconnected with many art teacher friends here in Massachusetts and I’m proud to be part of the MAEA, which is growing by leaps and bounds in not only number, but in enthusiasm. I appreciate my school district approving my time away and acquiring a great sub for me. Lastly, I am thankful to the NAEA for the care and thoughtfulness with which they plan our art education conventions. These conventions are truly a shot in the arm that inspires us as we go forward in our work of shaping human potential. Thank you!

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