09 March 2013

Art Educators With heART, Featuring Nicholas Wozniak.

(Hola . . . I'm a bit busy and a smidge behind on posts. Thankfully this weekend is full of time for blogging and sewing: lots and lots of sewing. So prepare yourselves for a smattering of updates on Fictive Fingers, The Winter Concert, Bookbinding 101, Etsy Shop Talk, Buoyant Echo, and my first Stamford Teacher Workshop. Can't wait? Follow cakecrushonthetown on Instagram to see instant visual updates: fun and yay!)

Extraordinary things happen when you live in a new city. And I'm not even talking about Singapore. I'm talking about Baltimore. (Hey those two cities rhyme: tada!)

About a week after moving to Baltimore in June of 2009, I met Mr. Wozniak. He was rooming with my friend Robert Fitzgerald in the MICA dorms where most summer residency graduate students live during their two month summer stay in Baltimore. We hung out a couple of times and that was it.

I never saw him again. I had started my program at MICA and was incredibly busy, and he was in-and-out of Baltimore for his program. So we just never ever saw each other again. Ever.

Except we were friends on Facebook. So occasionally I would catch glimpses of him with his sweet puppies or traveling with his partner Ryan. He would comment on things I would post and I would comment on things he would post--your everyday basic Facebook pleasantries. 

I found out, too, that he and Ryan own a home in Savannah, Georgia. He basically goes to Peter and Janie Brodhead's store almost daily and was so excited to know that we were family.

It was then that I realized how great social media actually is for staying engaged with other artists and arts educators. Right at my fingertips, I am able to watch and learn from other art professionals: worldwide.

Nick is really great at posting about things he is reading or educational considerations. He is a huge advocate for people and animals. He is consistently posting articles, inspirational quotes, and political ponderings concerning the lifelong fight for the rights of all people and the protection of animals. And browsing his MICA digication site reveals some incredibly beautiful and amazing photographs from around Savannah. 

So without further ado . . . I now present Mr. Nicholas Wozniak, in his own words. 

What is your name and where do you teach? What do you teach? How long have you been teaching? Have you taught the same subject throughout the whole time that you have been teaching?

My name is Nicholas Wozniak and I currently teach at The Park Maitland School and Valencia College, both in Orlando, Florida. I began teaching in 1999. I have always instructed art and photography to K - 12 students and at the college level.

How many students do you work with during a week's time?

I have approximately 300 students total.

Do you make your own artwork? If so, where do you make your artwork? Do the students know you make your own artwork? Have you shown it to them before? Do you think making your own artwork enhances, changes, or helps your teaching? Does working with young people enhance your personal artwork?

I do practice my own fine art and documentary photography as often as time permits, but sometimes I find myself drained from teaching. I primarily do my photography at my summer home in Savannah, Georgia. The city of Savannah always helps me to energize myself. 

I share my art making experiences with both my elementary and college-level students. I think the most valuable lesson I share with them is how I often make mistakes in creating my own art. These mistakes do not defeat me but rather make me more determined to succeed. Too often young students quit whenever they hit a challenge or roadblock. 

I am often impressed by the creative energies of my college students.

What is your favorite thing about what you do? 

My favorite thing about being an art educator is how exciting it is to see students engage themselves in the art making process.

Do you host any large events that feature your students' artwork so that the larger community can see what the students are making? What about school-specific events?

We have exhibitions at Wells Fargo and our local library. I am currently viewing spaces with a regional hospital and another possible space at a large-scale law firm. Additionally I try to share student art work each month during out assemblies and in our weekly newsletter.

How does collaboration fit into your teaching methods? What about personal choice? And imagination?

I've transitioned my art curriculum from a skill-driven curriculum to a student-driven curriculum. This student-driven curriculum allows me to incorporate issue-based instructional methods with my students. I try to encourage the students to make art with meaning or to make art in response to a big issue or enduring idea. Almost all of our art activities allow the students to make choices based upon their conceptual ideas and media choices.

Do you bring in artists from the community to work with your students?

I invite professional photographers to come speak to my college-level students, sharing their real life experiences.

What are your top five favorite supplies to use with students, and why?

I love to give students the choice to select their materials, such as papier mache, clay, oil pastels, charcoal, chalks. In addition, I encourage students to use non-traditional materials as well as recycled materials.

Do you have a favorite lesson plan you could share?

Lesson Name: Reinterpreting an Iconic Photograph (college-level students)

Description: Photography has played an important role in documenting and influencing human history. In this lesson we will discuss the work of master photographer Richard Avedon (see images below); concentrating on his iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe.

Enduring/Big Idea: Culture/Society/Identity

Key Questions: In what ways has photography influenced social and political decision making? In what ways can a photograph capture the essence of a person? What would you consider an iconic photograph and can you describe an example?

  • Contemporary magazines
  • Recent newspapers
  • Postcards, internet images, photographs
  • Transparency sheets
  • Colored acetate sheets
  • Various colors of acrylic/tempera paints
  • Various sized paint brushes
  • Oil and chalk pastels
  • India ink (black)
  • Tracing paper
  • 11" x 14" heavy backing to mount materials (chip board)
  • Glue sticks and Elmer's glue
  • Scissors and X-acto knives
  • Any other mixed art media available

Equipment needed: Video projector

Museum Connection:

1. Both Richard Avedon and Jimm Roberts compose their photographs to say something to the viewer about their subjects.

2. Examine and view the two Robert's photographs of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in various lighting and compositions.

3. View Robert's images of John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist. Both Rauschenberg and Douglas are presented as visual icons like Marilyn Monroe.

4. Can you identify any examples of Jimm Robert's photography where the subject appears to let down their guard and present an authentic representation of themselves?

Guiding Questions for Art Activity:

1. How can you reinterpret Richard Avedon's iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe using mixed media collage?

2. In what ways can your reinterpretation respond to current social, political, or cultural belief such as the enduring/big ideas of culture, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, political views, personal beliefs, and self-identity?

Inspiring, yes? Do you remember your art teacher in elementary school? If so, what made that person memorable to you . . . Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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