Semester wrap up:

Writing this now, I'm out of class and I've finished up with my internships at Perpich and South West. I'm really grateful I got to spend time at both schools, learning from Pat Benicasa and Cecily Spano, they each have given me a lot to think about going into the summer.

For my last week I brought in some treats to each classroom and helped the students do some of their own wrap-up for the school year. Later this month I'll be helping the seniors at South West hang their retrospective show in the main gallery at MCAD. Last week I saw a lot of the work they've been making and I helped them document some of it for their AP portfolios. 

At Perpich, the Seniors took me through one last pass of their gallery show before it was un-installed for the final junior exhibition. I'm still impressed with the level of skill and maturity that these kids put off, they are all very excited to make and talk about art.

I really want to develop more lessons in comics. I'd love to teach some workshops at both schools about comic media, really I'd just love to teach anywhere. So many kids are interested in it and there aren't a lot of teaching artists out there that are solely focused in comics. Only time will tell I guess, but this experience of working with these instructors, and Lynda Monick-Isenberg has been amazing. I would recommend it to anyone interested in arts education. 

Week 12: South West High School Week 4: Perpich Center

SW: 2.5 PCAE: 2.5 Hours

This week was amazing, I got to do my lesson at Perpich and it felt really well rounded and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. Using the lecture as a jumping off point for comic structure, the group didn't need much encouragement to start. Rather, they were glad to start and experiment with this new, spontaneous form of art making. I really enjoy working with that group- the level of interest and talent there is really great to be around. I'll have one more meeting time with this group- not this week, but next. I've loved working with Pat.

At Southwest, I got to help out with some technical drawing in some One on Ones with students. Instead of simply drawing something for a student, I try to explain visual problem solving as simply as possible, see if I can't get them excited about their assignments and enter the drawing from a different angle. I didn't stick around for art club this week though- I've got too much of my own finals to worry about. This week will be my last at South West, then I'll help them hang their MCAD show toward the end of May. Excited for that. 

Week 11: South West High School

Southwest High School - Teacher Cecily Spano - 2.5 hours

I was still making my way back to Minnesota on Monday, so I couldn't be at the Perpich Center this week. Some car trouble has thrown me for a six this week, so everything was a little difficult. At South West I got to check out the brand new media center/library space, the new main area is open now and the students were doing research assignments. Cecily talked to me about wanting some assistance hanging a student show at MCAD on the 27th of May, I don't see why I couldn't help.

Excited to be teaching next monday! I think the PCAE students will really enjoy what I have for them. 

Week 10 : South West High School, Week 2 : Perpich Center

SW High School : 3 Hours / PCAE: 1.5 Hours

This week was an irregular week for both high schools because of the approaching Spring Break. Perpich's classes were a little different because they were starting their interim retrospective gallery for Seniors, and South West was wrapping up it's quarter the Thursday I was there. I spent a good amount of time with Pat's Junior level drawing class and I talked with each student about the drawing project they were starting. A few students were actually going to China within a couple days so they were excused and the other students were still in the planning/sketching phase. It was nice to hear their ideas though.

There was a quick painting critique at South West for their self portrait paintings. I was glad I finally got to sit in on a critique with them! There was a wide range of styles and representations that the students took. Both the painting class and the upper-level class were turning in their sketchbooks and reflections, so it was a sort of hectic day for me to be shadowing, but I helped as much as I could and talked to students about their plans for spring break.

Both schools will be on break next week, so I have a week to work on my own projects as well as my lesson plan for PCAE. 

Week 9 : South West High School, Week 1 : Perpich Center

Perpich High School - Pat Benincasa - 12 hours

What a week it's been. It's a little surreal that I'm back at my high school just about five years out of graduating, but with the amount of work I'm putting in, it feels right. 

I spent three hours of four days at Perpich and got reacquainted with the building and the people that were still around teaching. The energy, the excitement of the students is very much the same as what I experienced while I was there. All of the faculty seemed very excited to have a cartoonist around and relayed that the students were really interested in comics. Pat walked me through the routine and on Wednesday I presented a quick explanation of my practice and my life Post-Perpich, the students were really interested and asked a lot of questions about the MCAD program, some were accepted Seniors, so that was exciting. After words, I had a handful of students showing me their comics as well. So cool. 

A lot of the questions were sort of teetering on "How do I do this?" "How do I put my passion into something I can do daily and make money for?" Immediately I knew that they needed to get their hands on some real comics. On Friday, I brought in some of my own print work, as well as a wide swath of small press/self published titles. Pat was gracious enough with her time to bring me into the gallery space and sit down, showing the students different examples of work. Comics are a medium, not a style. They were very interested. 

At Southwest, the comics bug is smaller but definitely there. During 7th hour class, I sat down with my tools and invited the students to sketch and doodle. They were especially interested in the Kuretake brush pens I use for cartooning and lettering. Bi-weekly art club was great as usual- I have one student in particular that likes to sit with me and ask me questions about inking and illustration. I invited him to draw something for me that I could ink and we could trade. 

Lots of exciting stuff, my head is turning with thoughts for my Perpich lesson. 

Week 8 : South West High School

Southwest High School - Cecily Spano, Art Teacher - 3 hours

This week Cecily had me create an example piece for her 6th hour painting class. The next project that they were starting was to create a self portrait, where they would develop a sketch from a picture they had taken and make a painting out of it. She was encouraging the students to experiment with style and non-representational work, but in the time I was at South west, I quickly worked through a painting of myself and took pictures along the way to show my process. 

I used some guidelines for proportion, but I wanted to include the top of my head so I didn't want to copy it exactly. 

I'm not really a painter so I wasn't sure how exactly to lay it out for painting, but I did some sort of planear lines for reference.

Painting is hard.

For a two hour quick job I thought I did alright. 

Next week I'll be largely at the Perpich Center, very excited to return to my alma mater. 


Week 7: South West High School & Highpoint

HIghpoint and Southwest - 10 hours 

Had a busy week running around Minneapolis and working on my placements/internships. My usual Thursday at South West was great and I was equally involved in both classes. 6th Hour painting worked on a portraiture assignment and the students asked me a lot of questions for improving their self portraits. 7th Hour was much more structured this week- the students had stations to chose from and had a variety of different media to experiment with. Cecily was offering up some nice water color vellum and I sat with some students who wanted to see how it reacted with the ink.

During Art club, I had a student who was working on some sort of design for a Class of 2016 T-shirt. I was doodling out some tattoo flash I was interested in and he sat with me and asked for pointers on some of the graphics he was working with. I got the feeling that he wanted me to go through his sketchbook and talk with him about his work- maybe I'll offer some sort of sketchbook seminar with these kids? They all have one and I think it would be interesting to have some discussions with them about how they use them. 

On Saturday, I volunteered with Dana at Highpoint for Free Ink Day. I'd actually never been to Highpoint before! The space is really cool and I'm glad I got to take part. For the event, I stayed mostly in the inking area, helping to move things along by cleaning and giving instruction when necessary. The attendees came in and were given a small linoleum piece to carve and could then print as many as they would like. The back quickly became a bonanza of kids and adults all rolling ink and printing, so most just did one or two, but I worked the whole event and Dana and Tyler both seemed glad enough that I was there that they would like me back in some way, so I can probably get some more hours with them if need be. 

Excited to be starting at Perpich over MCAD's spring break! 

Week 6: South West High School

Southwest High School - Art Teacher Cecily Spano - 4 hours

This week was a little odd, when I arrived I noticed there didn't seem to be as many students in the halls and when Cecily saw me she apologized for not notifying me of the change of schedule. Apparently there was some sort of short day or off day and instead of their regular classes, the students were encouraged to go to a number of student led workshops on social justice and social literacy. I was already there and the students were very encouraging that I go- so I went with Cecily to a workshop in the school's black box theatre. There was a guest speaker that led the group in a few games and exercises, and I ended up pairing up with five other kids to talk about race inequality. I was amazed at how communicative and engaged the students were, and how they were all so eager to talk and listen in equal measure.

So there wasn't much art this week, but I was still glad to participate in the discussions going on at the school. South West is a very diverse school and I'm glad the faculty and the students are both trying to have these important discussions. 

Week 5 : South West High School

Southwest High School - Art Teacher Cecily Spano - 4 Hours

This week I was able to get a little more involved with Cecily's 6th hour painting class, which I normally took a more passive role in because it was so straightforward. However, this week I gave the students advice on some of their mockups for their next project and asked them questions about their designs. It's a really cool group of kids, they all start working before much instruction is given. 

Art Club again this week as well, there are always such fun conversations going on and all of the students have different interests so it's great to see them all working on their own things. Collage is really popular, or, at least rooting through old magazines is. One of the younger women in the club likes fiber arts and was weaving the whole time. Cecily is great at cultivating an environment where the students can just explore their own interests. 

Week 4: South West High School

Southwest High School - Teacher Cecily Spano - 3 hours

Just four weeks in and it felt nice to get the teaching part of practicum done! I was able to do a comics collaboration experiment with Cecily's advanced art class. They seemed really engaged with the activity and quickly fell into an excited rhythm of passing their panels, laughing, and doing quick little drawings. I met with Lynda after completing the lesson and she shared her perspective on what I'd done and challenged me to think of different ways to ask questions of the group- What happened? What do you enjoy? What was difficult? So I could create better conversations.

Still have plenty of time to observe for Cecily so I hope I can do little mini-projects, especially with the art club after school. A couple of students have shown me their work and want my help, so I want to be available for them. 

Week 3 : Perpich Center for Arts Education

Perpich High School - Pat Benincasa - 1.5 hours

This week at the Perpich Center, the senior students were still doing their interim period, setting up their gallery show, etc. The Juniors started working on a new drawing project, rendering themselves in various states of life. I also just took the time to just look around the gallery space in progress and check in with the other classes. The students get locked into their work pretty easily, so I mostly just observed.

I've been feeling a little under the weather lately and I emailed Cecily, saying I would be missing her class this week. I'll be back next week at Southwest as usual, and I'll be driving back from Columbus Ohio on Monday so the next time I'll be at Perpich, I'll be teaching. 

Week 3: South West High School

Southwest High School _ Cecily Spano _ 4.0  hours

This week Cecily contacted me early on about doing a talk of some sort with her Advanced Art class about narrative and storytelling in comics. Super exciting! I was talking about it with a fellow comic major and he said something along the lines of "Make that one kid really excited about comics." I took it pretty seriously and put together a solid presentation on readability and composition in relation to time and space. Very Scott McCloud. Obviously most of the students in the class weren't aspiring comics majors, but they were quick to answer my questions and participate in the discussion. 

Cecily wants me to do my teaching lesson next week, I feel prepared. I'm thinking of doing another shorter activity like the comic game I did in the first part of this course. Something not-so-precious. 

Week 2: Southwest High School

Southwest High School - Cecily Spano - 3.0 hrs

This week my hours were a little shorter- it turns out that Southwest's Art Club only meets every other Thursday. When I arrived, Cecily ended up needing some materials for the hardware store for her next hour's class so I obliged. The students were working on putting together sketchbook covers, using old magazines to make collages. I tried to interact with the students a little and make my way around the room, but high schoolers are really insular. It's difficult too because most of them are just listening to music and just want to focus on their task. 

The next hour, I did a little presentation on my work. I was a little tired that day so I was worried I didn't seem as put together as I can be. The students in this hour were more experienced arts students and many AP art students so they were more interested than the previous class, they asked me a couple of specific technical questions about my art making and sketched quietly. 

Week 1: Southwest High School

Southwest High School _ Cecily Spano _ 4.0  hours

Today I connected with Cecily Spano at MPS Southwest High School and was able to start my placement doing some observation of a couple of her classes in the afternoon as well as connecting with the art club that meets in her room after the last bell. High school kids can just whip their phones out now! It was actually really cool to see a lot of them use their technology, it wasn't a distraction at all, most were using their phones to find reference pictures for their own sketchbook work/doing some basic photography projects. Mrs. Spano also occasionally opens up her classroom on Saturdays for some open studio time for her students which I'm excited to participate in. The students are really interested in comics and illustration so I feel like I could put together a project they'd enjoy.