This was such an enriching experience for the students, they absolutely loved each and every visiting speaker we had. I will post a few pictures in order of the visits, but if you want to see a bit more of each guest, I have posted extensively on the classroom Instagram: @mshollowaysartroom
We had so much fun learning first hand about the ins and outs of all these creative careers. If you know of anyone in the community who may be interested in participating on this project with the JWJ artists next year, please let me know. I will definitely be offering this method again next year!!!
Ever heard of using fire, smoke or soy sauce as a medium of art-making? Our first visiting artist speaker was local Renaissance man Chris Clark and he opened our eyes up to the fact that in art, there are no limits. The JWJ artists were super lucky to have him as their introduction to the unit. He took us through a virtual tour of his online galleries ranging several different careers in the arts. He also brought in original pieces from his newest body of work and passed them around for the students to see and touch and experience on a more intimate level.
When talking about curriculum, Chris literally helped us knock out like five careers in one day!
Let's see ... fine artist, muralist, illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, art instructor, and I bet I'm even still missing one, sheeeeesh!
My young artists were very impressed with his artwork, his versatility, and his gentle and personable demeanor. Students were eager to ask him advice and opinions on their own work. We had such a great time inviting him into our world and rumor has it that he enjoyed being there too :)
If you aren't familiar with his work, I highly recommend becoming familiar! Currently, he has pieces in a group exhibition called A Vision for Art which is benefiting St. Mark's Episcopal Day School in Ortega, curated by Space42. You can also spot his powerful profile murals all over Jacksonville's buildings and street corners. Chris Clark's style is immediately recognizable and empowering.
Our next visiting speaker was Roosevelt Watson III and his visit was so so SO inspiring. Mrs.Canoura and I both left the school parking lot beaming with renewed vigor about getting home to our studios and creating new artwork of our own! No joke, y'all.
I first met Roosevelt when he gave the keynote speech at one of our DCPS art teacher pre-planning day conferences my first year living back in Florida. Fast forward a couple years and he found his way into all of our lives as he joined the JWJ artists and I on our "Dream Big" mosaic mural project in Springfield (which we have yet to complete 100% so you still have a chance to take part!)
What a treat!!! And now I've got him in the classroom spreading all the love and encouragement :)
So, Roosevelt stole our hearts on his visit. The JWJ artists learned about symbolism, abstraction, cultural connections, and the relevance that history has in our society today. He told us that underneath our skin, all of our insides look the same. Roosevelt uses visual art as his vehicle to express the importance of human bonding and healing. His work is saturated in this raw beautiful love that children are the absolute best at picking up on. Side note: adults are welcome to join too!
A few of my "smartest artists" even got to model for him after responding correctly to higher level exit ticket questions. Among the many creative careers that Roosevelt has taken on, one of them is drawing what he has dubbed "portrai-catures". He even used to work at Busch Gardens and Disney!
A forever thank you goes out to Roosevelt Watson III for visiting, educating, sharing, listening, and creating with the student artists at JWJ. I have a feeling they will remember his visit forever!!!
Jacob even offered up a surprise portri-cature gift of his own to Roosevelt, I just CAN'T, y'all!!! Do we see a future portrait artist in our midst??!?! Creative careers, commence, young grasshoppers!
Rebecca Campbell was our next guest speaker and presenter and boy, oh boy, was her visit a thrill!
I first met Campbell at an outdoor art festival at the Phoenix Arts District in Springfield when I was buying some of her ceramics for my personal home collection. She is incredibly talented, patient, kind, informative, helpful, and inspiring! We were super lucky to have her come and speak to us about the methods she uses to create her work. And just wait til you see her work: MIND BLOWING!
A sculptor, ceramicist, and fine artist, Rebecca elaborated on the differences between functional vs. aesthetic artwork. She even gave us a live demonstration of how to sculpt a portrait out of clay using anthropomorphic qualities and now ALL of the JWJ artists are eager to create their own!
Rebecca's work has this intricate attention to detail juxtaposed with an earthy goddess-infused subject matter that blends nature and humanity more elegantly than the JWJ artists have seen yet.
We all owe her a major thank you for her patience, time, instruction, and donation to our art department. She let us KEEP the portrait she started! Can't wait to see how it turns out now that it's become a massive group project :) :) :) Students were crawling out of their seats to get a closer look!
As soon as our visitors were complete, I opened up independent studio creation time to whichever mediums the artists were most inspired by and ... what do ya know ... so many chose clay portraits!!!
I will be sure to post pictures of the students' work when these masterpieces are all finished being glazed and out of the kiln, so wait for it! Thank you is an understatement for this lesson, Rebecca!!!
ARTISTS #4 AND 5:
The next day we were super lucky to have not one, but TWO incredibly talented camera women presenting in Ms. Holloway's art room! Sarah Cebulski and Natassja Ebert often work on projects together and helped the JWJ artists to fully grasp the concept of working as a team. They spoke about the intricacies of what it takes to hack it behind the lens. Both ladies emphasized how important it is to cultivate a strong sense of community with other fellow artists. We are all in this together and the more support we offer each other, the stronger the bonds in our arts scene will become.
Students got to thumb through Sarah's fashion publications from New York, explore her wedding business website, and hear first hand how 'thrifting' can be turned into a creative profession on the side while shooting high end fashion photography (and Sarah shoots A LOT!)
Natassja showed us her cinematic masterpiece reel followed by a few behind the scenes footage clips from work she has filmed ranging from ESPN3 to Bobby Brown to Pink to professional ballet, and more! Ummmmm, you guys, she was just hired to shoot the NFL draft last weekend. REAL LIFE!!!
All business vocab aside, the bottom line we learned from this dynamic duo is that the arts community is just that ... A community. I've got a hunch we may be working these two again, WINK!
A huge, huge, huge thank you goes out to both Sarah and Natassja for offering their time, talent, motivation, and inspiration to the curious inquiring artists at James Weldon Johnson and beyond.
The next awesome artist to come and speak about their career in the arts was the locally publicized and exonerated, Ms. Tatiana K. I first found out about her when I picked up a brochure for arts events in Jacksonville and fell in love with the artwork on the cover. We never met her before today!
The energy she gave off while presenting was so infectious that every student from every period was simply vibrating with creativity and enthusiasm by the time the bell rang to leave. Myself included :)
She spoke to the JWJ artists about making sure that what we create always comes from the heart. Her artwork is steeped in spirit, emotion, motherhood, LOVE, and a cosmic energy that the viewer (even a middle school-er) reads and embraces without hesitation.
Okay, but real-talk, the highlight of each period for these young aspiring artists was that Tatiana offered up an original print of hers to a deserving student!!!! I am not even bending the truth when I say that they were literally jumping out of their seats to get the answers right and win that prize!!!
Can't you just feel the happiness radiating out of these pictures??!?! Melts my art teacherin' heart!!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you Tatiana for spending your afternoon sharing with us (all the love!)
Tatiana's calm demenor helped the students to grasp higher order concepts like color schemes and why a portrait may be painted in blue or purple or even red hues as opposed to skin tones. One of the pieces she brought into display is a portrait of her one year old son ... who ... accompanied her into Ms. Holloway's classroom!!!
And oh my gosh, he is way too cute!!!!!!!!! (Modeling for other artists is most definitely in his future, holy cuteness, y'all!!!!) The girls could not keep their hands and coddles to themselves, nor could I.
ARTIST # 7:
Our next guest speaker was the globe travelling, superbly stylish, infectiously positive and sweet, sweet, sweet Argie Mitra! Real life smiles for days with this one, you guys!
The JWJ artists got the privilege to learn about fashion design and how the clothing industry works from the most fabulous fashionista around. Argie travels for her work and often uses herself as her own model with her bright and fun patterns and new clothing designs. She taught us to take full advantage of every place we find ourselves and capture all of those moments creatively.
Argie taught us that our interests may change as we continue growing up and we don't have to settle on just one set path right away. Just like alternating patterns in a dress, our life's course may take a turn we never expected ... and that course may lead us to exactly where we were always meant to be ... just like the most perfect fitting outfit :) Okay, boys ... or most perfectly fitting shoe!
And as long as we are making work we are passionate about, those big life turns will also allow for a beautiful growth in character. Argie's bubbly personality is highly contagious and the students had such a blast checking out her colorful cheery funky fashion. Some want rainbow hair now too ...
Big big big hugs and ALL THE SMILES to sweet Argie coming out and spreading her passion with us!!!
Our last guest speaker for this year was the astoundingly professional and warmly approachable Jihan Grant. Among so many other hats that she wears, Jihan's creative career title at the moment is being the media specialist and program manager for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.
The JWJ artists got to learn about how and why grant money is distributed and what an 'artist in residency' really is. ("Whoa, whoa, Ms. Grant, you mean people can get paid to live in New York and just make their own art for a whole year??!?!) Why, yes, yes, they certainly can.
Jihan spoke to the students about the steps that go into graphic design work , covering topics from poster layouts to creating logos, to making movie trailers, and MORE! Jihan used to own graphic design company and even shot film photography professionally for many years (and YES, adults out there, the students HAVE heard of film ...)
We all just LOVED having her in the art room, she felt like one of us and fit right into our element!!!
The kicker though was probably when Jihan mentioned that her job involves being on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all the social media, you name it ... The students were all: "Ms. Jihan, you mean that's a career in the arts I CAN GET PAID FOR??!?!" Why, yes, yes, you can.
As Jihan explained things to the classes, she maintained an aura of relaxation that put the students right at ease. Leaning on the backs of their seats, the students felt very comfortable asking her all kinds of questions about her different careers. Once the floor was opened up for individual sharing time, JWJ stepped up to the plate by showing off their paintings, sketchbooks, iPhone photography, architectural designs, and even offering her gifts of drawings and ... (they make me so proud) HUGS!
I have a BIG feeling that her visit to our classroom was just the start of something new and wonderful ... Wait for a bit of colorful art club mural-ing news coming up over the summer!!! :) :) :)
(Oh, and did I mention that her visit also happened to fall on Ms. Holloway's birthday? heehee!!!) Yep
BONUS ARTIST #9 coming soon :
Coming up in May to Paxon and Ribault High Schools ......... Donald Gialanella !!!
Below is a listing of the above mentioned artists and other fabulous folks who visited Ms. Holloway's art room in case y'all want to give them a follow or purchase some of their amazing work for your own home! Check back in again later this month for more exciting arts news and updates! :)
IG names for visiting guest speakers: