Artists in Schools & Communities
McGuffey School District
Teaching Artist Amber Coppings worked with McGuffey Middle and High School Arts Specialist, Michelle Urbanek, to create two virtual artist residencies, one in early Spring 2020 and then in Fall 2020. The goals of the residencies were generally similar: to connect traditional art techniques created by hand to contemporary digital art making techniques. Incorporating digital art tools enhanced student engagement and helped to increase both students’ and teachers’ abilities to navigate virtual teaching and learning. Meditative pattern drawing and collage were layered with digital drawing and painting using Aggie.io, a free browser-based suite of digital art tools. Specific themes for Spring included creating maps of our homes and familiar locations, as well as creative lettering and self-portraits that depicted a living history of personal experiences. Fall 2020 used “Advice for Future Students” as a theme to create printed zines (self-published mini magazines) that contained digitally drawn and painted elements. Visiting Artist Jayla Patton created character drawing tutorials/videos for students to help them tell their stories in the zines. A collection of student zines is now in the McGuffey School library.
In winter 2023, Arts Specialist Michelle Urbanek continued her partnership with PCA&M, working with Teaching Artist Lindsay Huff to create a school installation exploring the relationship between translucent and opaque colors. Two classes of middle school art students created the collaborative installation while being introduced to metalsmithing, resin casting, and stained glass making. Students used hammers, bench blocks, and letter stamps to form, texture, and stamp words into pennies and scrap sheet copper. Adding dyes and found objects to silicone molds created miniature compositions in resin that became keychains and installation components. Finally, students celebrated the abundant horse farms in their rural Washington County school district by creating stained glass pieces framed by used horse shoes. Students cut, smoothed, and soldered colorful, abstract compositions and then used wire to connect them to horse shoe frames and to connect all of the project components together. As the project concluded, Huff reflected, “It was a treat to watch the students’ skills and confidence develop over the course of the residency and a special joy to observe how students negotiated to help and support each other and to collaborate on constructing and assembling their group projects.”