Seeking out local artists to visit with your students is such a lovely way to spice up your art curriculum.   Hosting a visiting artist is a valuable learning experience in itself, but they can also enhance your current art curriculum:

  1. Search out local artists to complement units in your curriculum.
  2. Contact a variety of  local artists to share and inspire at your Art Exhibitions, Art Fairs and Art Auctions.
  3. Ask around about local artists that are family members/ relatives and friends of students.

What is key is to search out local artists in your community that are willing to share and inspire your students.  Plus, your artists will have exposure to “real life” artists.

The school year can be pretty hectic and sometimes just updating lesson plans on-line can take up most of your time.  That is why I try to at least have one visiting artist a year.  To be honest it does take some time when you are new to your community and even longer in the international school community where I had to overcome a language barrier.  Here are examples of my experiences at four different international schools and the visiting artists that shared with and inspired my students.

KOREA:   CHINESE BRUSH PAINTER

My high school art students were studying a unit on Chinese Brush Painting.  I introduced the lesson with a short educational video I purchased from Crizmac.  I also demonstrated my fine skills as well although it can be somewhat humbling when a student in the class has been studying Chinese Brush painting for years, but it that case I always have the experienced student do a demonstration and talk about their experience and  give pointers.  He or she can also help instruct the other students on the proper way of holding their special bamboo brushes and using their ink blocks.  After asking around, another teacher had a friend that was a Chinese Brush painter.  Since he was a professional artist, he required an hourly rate for visiting with the students.  Since this would enhance a current unit, it was easily approved by administration to pay the $50.00 fee.  The principal also came by the class and participated in the demonstration.  After the demonstration, our visiting artist walked around the room instructing and helping the students in creating their paintings.  He was not comfortable speaking in English but all the students spoke Korean so language was not an issue in this situation.

At the time, I had not invested in a digital camera yet so these were taken with a web cam.  Make sure you are more prepared and document your visiting artist with lots of photos so they can be used in the school newsletter, yearbook and your portfolio.

ANGOLA:  BASKET-MAKER

My school in Luanda, Angola followed the IB PYP/MYP curriculum.  The sixth grade Unit of Inquiry was African Arts.  Time was put in the schedule for me to meet with the sixth grade teacher to plan connections.  We planned a field trip to the local art market and with the help of local office staff at the school, we organized a local basket-maker to visit and demonstrate her art.  Because the local basket-maker did not speak English, we (okay, the office staff) brought in a translator.  The basket-maker did not ask for any fee, she just gave a list of supplies she would need to do her demonstration and for each student to create a small basket.  I asked if the school would pay her for her time and to cover transportation.  I believe the school gave her a small fee but not sure on the amount.  With the help of translator, she explained her background and artwork.  Then we had question/answer time in which the students could use the questions they prepared in advance or new ones.  Time had to be watched pretty close so they have time to see a demonstration on how to start a basket and also for the students to have time to start and work on their baskets as well.

THAILAND:  ORIGAMI ARTIST

During the last month of school at my school in Thailand, I would have a huge art exhibition where I would turn the library into an art museum.  I did this because I had over 400 K-6th Art students and could not get an art museum field trip organized.  So I turned the library into an art museum along with gallery guides, activity sheets, guest book and a guest artist.   Because this school had over 800 students, we had a Thai principal which was also the Head of the Arts Department.  She organized a local Origami artist to come display, demonstrate and teach her art in the library for a week.   She would stay in the library between 8am to noon for a week and classroom teachers could sign up their classes to participate in this extra activity.  I planned on taking my AM classes but my afternoon classes were left up to their classroom teachers.  She had simple projects planned, such as the crane so then it was easier for her to walk around to help where needed.  Often she would have 2 classes at once.  It was pretty active in the library with all the artwork, the hands-on activity sheets and the origami making.  It was very festive.  The visiting artist did not speak English but all the students spoke Thai so this was not an issue.

VENEZUELA:  PAINTER

My most recent school was in Venezuela.  I taught K-12 Art and a first grade student would always tell me, “My grandmother is an artist, and I am an artist too!”   Her admiration for her grandmother led me to ask her mother if the grandmother would like to visit our art class.  Her mother was very excited about this idea and in a week we had organized a visit.  She brought a wide variety of paintings in which she had painted on a various surfaces.  She painted on canvas, wood panels, tablecloths and purses to name a few.  She spoke to the students about her childhood interest in painting, how she sought out instruction and what motivates her to create.  The students were so excited and had many questions.  They also treated her like she was famous and the artist’s granddaughter was very proud.  I tried to limit the discussion to only half the class and then planned a still-life drawing exercise for the students to have a hands-on activity where she walked around the room and offered pointers to every student.  I really enjoyed this student-grandmother connection and it was a very special event for the students.  The visiting artist did not speak English but the one student that did not understand Spanish had a student translator help her understand.  This visit just happened to come about during the school’s annual silent art auction.  That is when the front of the school is turned into an art gallery where the artworks can be bid on and the money raised went towards a couple of the school’s community service projects.

OTHER IDEAS FOR VISITING ARTISTS:

Folk Artist, Muralist, Photographer, Potter/Ceramicist, Sculptor, Weaver, Doll Maker, Puppet Maker, Mask maker, Printmaker, Graphic Designer, Jewelry Designer, Calligrapher, Glass Blower, Children’s Book Illustrator, Cake Decorator, Interior Decorator, Fashion Designer, Woodworker/Woodcarver, Make-up Artist, Tattoo Artist, Graffiti ArtistИдея за подарък