The Benefits of Hosting a Visiting Artist
As art teachers, we love the arts, and see the big picture of what our students might be able to achieve in the arts. As the topic of careers begins to emerge, I want to encourage my Middle School Students to choose art related careers, but sometimes they just don’t believe that it is a “true” career or see it as a possibility. This all changed when Doug Reynolds, a professional potter, came to share his gifts and talents with my students.
Before Doug’s visit, I had shown students how to throw on the pottery wheel (and yes they were impressed with my skills) but I’m not a professional artist. After my demonstration, they each had a turn at the potter’s wheel to try it out for themselves. It gave them a new appreciation for this art form, as it was not as easy as it first seemed. Once all students had a chance to throw on the wheel, I asked a local professional potter to come and visit our art room to enrich their experience further.
As he began to center the clay on the wheel, my students’ mouths dropped at how quickly he could take a mound of clay and align it. As he began to shape and mold the clay into amazing forms my students were even more impressed. The best part is that he talked about things he liked and didn’t like about being a studio potter. He also lives right in their hometown! I had several students after this experience eager to get back on the pottery wheel! Many of them said that it would be a career they might be interested in some day. I even had one girl stay after class to talk with him more as she felt like this might be the career for her. His visit really opened my students’ eyes to the possibility of actually becoming an artist someday – with lots of hard work, of course!
Doug even brought a piece of artwork to be raffled off as a gift to my students! Check out the picture below. One lucky girl won this piece and I know many of my students will never forget this experience of our guest artist, Doug Reynolds, coming to visit. This was an amazing experience for both my students and for me as a classroom teacher!
The newspaper even came to cover the story! Remember, inviting the newspaper is a great advocacy tool to help promote the arts within your school and community!
If you are interested in having an artist come to your classroom, I would suggest looking for local or statewide art groups who work hard to bring local artist directly to students. For example, one place I have looked in my own state is the The Iowa Arts Council and the Artist Residencies I can apply for!
Have you invited a professional artist to visit your classroom?
How did your students react?