September 2015 marked the beginning of an exciting new partnership for the Arts of Life North Shore Studio as we launched our Teaching Artist Residency Program (TARP). The program was designed to help budding artists with developmental disabilities grow in their artistic practice as they considered transitioning toward full-time vocational art making at the Arts of Life.
Taught by North Shore Arts Coordinator John Sharp and studio artists Russell Copenharve and Ted Gram-Boarini, this course focused on a new element of art or principle of design each month. Transition students from the North Shore Special Education District (NSSED) as well as members of Our Place of New Trier were the first to register for the pilot semester with great success. The program schedule consisted of 2 classes taught every Friday for 12 weeks at Oakton Community College in Des Plains. Through exciting demonstrations, projects, and art history, students learned about a variety of artistic processes and materials in regards to line, shape, color, and texture. Here is more about what Ted and Russell had to say about the program:
What was your role as a teaching artist?
TGB: I am responsible for talking about what we are going to be doing for the class. Like talking about the different steps you would have to do. Because you can’t just show something and not tell em to go ahead and do it. You have to tell them, “this is step one, this is step two.”
RC: I help teach the class, I show them what to do. Demos.
How did you prepare for lessons?
TGB: We have to organize our brains. We have to do some stuff, too. For example, we have to try it out first cause if we don’t and just go in there willy-nilly we are going to look like we don’t know what we are doing and it will be harder for them to learn.
RC: Monday mornings we have a meeting for the class about what to teach. We teach on Friday. Two classes.
What was your favorite part of the experience?
TGB: Just being able to teach students kind of one on one was my favorite experience. Being able to teach them what we have learned and they learn from us.
RC: I like to teach the class. We had fun doing lots of different things. Getting a group together and teaching. This was my first time teaching at college.
What was your favorite lesson?
TGB: My favorite was the skeleton still life around Halloween. The students had to use an easel and a board and basically draw a picture of the skeleton the way they saw it. They did the whole thing just using contour line.
RC: I liked the color wheel. We taught them how to mix colors. Oh, and the blind contour drawings. That means you can’t look at your paper when you draw. Just look at their face. No cheating.
Did you face any challenges?
TGB: I had to learn not to say “no.” Not to be negative toward the students. So if they mess up you have to be positive toward them because if you are negative, that’s not the way they are going to learn. You have to say things like, “Your getting better” instead of “No, that’s not right.” Negativity doesn’t do any good. But being positive does wonders.
RC: You have to show them how to respect each other so we can learn. It was a little bit easy. You have to listen to what students say.
How do you think the students did?
TGB: I think the students did really well. They were able to retain more of the stuff that we were teaching them, like stuff about famous artists. That’s what amazed me, because I was watching for them to be able to remember what we were talking about it, and they did amazing. Honestly, brilliant.
RC: They did fine. They liked it. They all learned about what we do to be artists. They learned about colors, how to draw. They followed the steps. They did a nice job.
View the gallery below for fantastic art work samples from TARP's first semester students:
Color Theory: Analagous Colors
Blind Contour Line Drawing
Collograph Creatures (Rooster and Scarecrow)