I live for being in the same space with the artwork, visiting art museums and spending time in them with fellow enthusiasts. The Art Class Curator summer workshop where I get to do just that is probably my favorite thing every year. It lights up my soul and gives me the most energy and excitement for the work I do.
This past summer’s workshop felt like the best ever, and I want to make it even better next year. So today, I’ve got Madalyn Gregory with me again to discuss our experiences there and tell you how you can join us on this fabulous ride in 2022.
1:37 – The origins of the workshop
5:28 – Where the workshop will be held in the summer of 2022
8:31 – The new activity on the first day of the workshop this year that had everyone buzzing
14:27 – Art activities that stood out the most to us
20:04 – A magical art discovery we made on the second day of the workshop
26:05 – How we dialed in on personal art connection for the rest of the day
30:34 – Revealing some personal connections made from the experience
37:36 – How everyone took on a teacher role for the last activity
44:38 – The structure of the 2022 workshop and registration details
- Register for the 2022 workshop here!
- Curated Connections Experience – 2022 Workshop
- Free Lesson Sample
Be a Podcast Guest: Submit a Voice Memo of Your Art Story (Scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your story.)
Cindy Ingram: Hello and welcome to The Art Class Curator Podcast. I am Cindy Ingram, your host and the founder of Art Class Curator, and The Curated Connections Library. We’re here to talk about teaching art with purpose and inspiration from the daily delights of creativity to the messy mishaps that come with being a teacher. Whether you’re driving home from school or cleaning up your classroom for the 15th time today, take a second, take a deep breath, relax those shoulders, and let’s get started.
Hello everybody. Welcome back to The Art Class Curator Podcast. This is Cindy Ingram. Today, I’ve got Madalyn Gregory again with me in the Zoom studio. Hi, Madalyn.
Madalyn Gregory: Hello.
Cindy Ingram: I want to say in the studio, like it was fancy but we were not in a studio. We were in our offices. You’re in your closet.
Madalyn Gregory: I am in my closet. I live on a very loud street.
Cindy Ingram: What we’re going to talk about with you today is The Art Class Curator Summer Workshop. This is probably my favorite thing that we do every year. It is the thing that fills my soul the most. It’s the thing I enjoy the most. It gives me the most energy and excitement for the work that I do. We’ve done it four times. This year was the year I think we finally were like, “Yes, this is how the workshop should be. This is perfect.” It can never be perfect but I’ll tell you how we’re going to make it different next year too. We’re going to tell you about it, tell you how you can join us next summer, and just talk about our experience with the workshop. Are you ready?
Madalyn Gregory: I am so excited.
Cindy Ingram: What we do every year is if some of you know, I used to work in museum education and one of my roles as a museum educator was to do teacher programs. We would do teacher workshops, we would do teacher happy hours, we would write lessons for teachers, all sorts of things, but there’s nothing that can replace actually being in a real art museum with other people, talking about the art. It’s just magic to me is what it is. I feel like in my job at Art Class Curator, I’ve created my own little museum. I get to explore works of art. I get to talk about art for my job. I get to share it with the world. I get to share it with students and teachers but there is something different and something special about actually being in the same space with the artwork. That’s what we do for this workshop. We actually do visit art museums and spend time in them together. The best part of it to me is to just be in the space.
We started offering this workshop about five years ago. The first one, we did in Dallas. I did it at a co-working space conference room. We spent most of the day in the conference room, then the afternoon, we headed over to the Dallas Museum of Art where we wrapped up a lot of the work that we did. Then two years after that, we did the Meadows Museum, which is on the SMU campus in Dallas. We were actually in a classroom at the Meadows. I love their education team. They’re great collaborators. It was really lovely. But all three of those workshops that we did, the biggest feedback that we got on our surveys at the end, everybody was like, “It was so great.” Otherwise, the heat, people were like, “It’s hot outside. You made us go outside and it’s hot.” But the biggest thing that we saw was people wanted more time. That one day was not enough time to really dive into the content, like we wanted. In the past years, we did a lot of how to discuss art with kids or with your students, how to lead engaging activities with works of art, and we packed all of that into that six to eight hour time frame.
This year, we decided it would be wise to try to add a second day so that we could slow down. Also, if you’ve been following us for a long time, you’ve noticed that our focus has really shifted to a more of a personal connection with works of art. We really wanted that to be a strong component in the workshop as well, that not only how are you going to bring the art to your students but how are you personally going to connect with the works of art too. That will fuel your students’ art connections if you were personally connected to art. We added the second day to really allow ourselves the time to develop those art connections. That second day made all the difference in the world.
Madalyn Gregory: It was magical. I’m so excited to get into it. It’s funny too because it was the same time of year but this year with the extra day, everybody was getting to know each other better, they actually walked and wanted to go outside, walk to the museums because we were just down the street from them. It was fantastic. I’m so excited to do it again.
Cindy Ingram: You’ve never seen three more excited people. Me, Madalyn, and Jen were at the workshop. At five o’clock, it was over and no one wanted to leave. Everybody just felt connected to each other. We were all having a hard time walking away. We were so excited and so thrilled by the workshop, and the connections that we made, that we did not stop talking from 5:00 PM until 1:00 AM. We were staying in an Airbnb. We ordered Uber Eats food and we just talked, and talked and talked, and talked and talked until we couldn’t talk anymore because we just had such a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to tell you all about that.
This year, we did it in Fort Worth, Texas. We moved across the Metroplex. It was perfect. This summer in 2022—2022, can you believe that?—we’re going to do it in the same place. The workshop is at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. What’s beautiful about that is that Fort Worth, if you’ve never been, has really amazing art museums. There are three main art museums. They’re all across the street from each other in the Cultural Arts District. The Fort Worth Community Arts Center is right across the street as well. All three museums that we visited and the space for the workshop were all within walking distance, really close to each other.
Madalyn Gregory: The Community Arts Center had art of its own. It was really like its own little mini museum too. It was great.
Cindy Ingram: The workshop is in the galleries. We’re not just in a conference room. We were like in the room with the art too. The art was so cool at the space. Oh, so good. Another thing that made it so special this year is we’ve been living through this pandemic and most of us had the opportunity to spend time with our colleagues for so long, so it felt so good to be in the room with people again after such a long, long hiatus of that.
The other thing that we wanted to add to the workshop by adding the second day was to add more art making. In the galleries and past workshops, we would do drawing activities and things like that but we never really did any real art making. That was another goal of ours for this year was to add that component in because we’re art teachers, we want to have the chance to make it too. Making art, inspired by art in the galleries surrounded by art with other people who love art just gives me chills thinking about it. It’s so good. I was going to go through the outline of what we did in the workshop to tell you guys about it and part of me feels like I’m spoiling it if you were to come again but also I don’t think so because it’s a fluid thing because the art is always changing and the ideas are always changing, that hearing about it is not the same as living through it.
Madalyn Gregory: The people are always changing. We have one person who is a member of The Curated Connections Library that signed up every single time and actually missed one due to life but he has come every single time that he could, and continues to enjoy it and see what changes. Even though some of the stuff we talk about might be the same, it’s going to be a unique experience every time.
Cindy Ingram: You change too. With the connection being so strong, with the personal connection to a work of art, what happened to you in the last year is relevant to your experience. Depending on where you are in your life, every time you come, you’re going to have new layers of experience based on that as well. Our first day at the workshop was the same format as our past workshops where we did a lot of talk about art discussion, how to lead art discussions. I led sample art discussions, then we also talked about strategies for that, then one of the things that we did differently this year was that we had the participants make their own sketchbooks when they came in on the first day and we taught that process, how to stitch them, hand stitch them, we painted covers for them. You learned about how to fold the paper, how to stitch, how to tape it all together. That was so fun. I love my sketchbook. I value it. I’m never going to throw it away. I think it’s so cool.
I think it was such a cool thing because then all the participants of the workshop had a place to keep all their notes and now they have this memento or document of their memories from the workshop that we made art in there, we did all the activities in there. We had the sketchbook that we used that’s a memento for the teachers but I love the idea of the kids making these in the class, the beginning of the school year too, because then all of your art connection, things that you do, all of your warm-ups, and things can happen in those sketchbooks. I think the student is less likely to want to throw it away at the end of the year if it’s a book that they’ve made and they’ve invested so much into it rather than just some cheap spiral notebook that they just throw away at the end of the year.
Madalyn Gregory: It was a process. It definitely took a little more time than we thought it was going to but it was so much fun. They’re so personalizable. Because we just had a bunch of different paints and stuff out there, everybody came out looking so different. You could add as many or as few pages as you wanted to. All of the worksheets and stuff that we used, everybody just glued in, so it was just this one thing that we could take around. You didn’t have to worry about it. I love the scrapbook nature of that because it becomes the memory of the event in a way that it wouldn’t if you just had a folder that you threw in the back of your car at the end of the day.
Cindy Ingram: I loved that time too because it was right at the beginning, we had already done introductions and stuff but it was a time that we got to chat with everybody there. We got to get to know people. The elementary teachers were talking to the high school teachers about like, “Well, how do we take this and drop this down to an elementary level to make the sketchbook easier for the little kids to make?” There’s a lot of talk about modifications. I think because we had that low-key time at the beginning, everyone had that chance to build some connections and foundations at the beginning that served us the rest of the workshop too.
Madalyn Gregory: It was a great opportunity too to talk about just the art making process because no one had made them before. You didn’t really know how it was going to end up looking, even as you made your cover. There were several of the teachers who were like, “Oh, that didn’t come out how I wanted it to,” or whatever but then by the time it was all bound and all the pages were in it, everybody loved it because it’s that process of imperfection that you get to do with your students too, which was so fun to see and play out. I think you can forget that sometimes whenever you’re in front of the classroom all the time.
Cindy Ingram: Speaking from my personal experience, I get really nervous making art with other art teachers because they’re so good and you’re just like, “Oh, I’m not going to be as good as that.” I get all of my crap about my own talents, so I always get a little bit apprehensive, and I did with this too because I wanted my stitches to be just so perfectly straight. I gave up midway through. I was like, “There’s no way of getting it.” But then actually now, I really love how imperfect they are. It was really fun. We all talked about our own creative processes and shared those. Other people had those same insecurities and we were just laughing about them. It was really fun. It was a really fun time. We did that in the Fort Worth Community Art Center. In the galleries around the art in our room was like, I forgot the name of the artist, I have to pull it up on my phone but I wanted to say it was a Mexican artist but he was very surrealist, very Frida Kahlo-like.
Madalyn Gregory: Armando Sebastian
Cindy Ingram: Armando Sebastian, yes. But the art in the galleries was so cool, weird, and amazing. Every time you look around at anybody, you’re just also getting this awesome art behind us. We had such a kick out of the art that was in the room. Then we learned about art discussion, practice art discussion, then the first museum that we went to after lunch was at the Amon Carter Museum, which is across the street from the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. The focus of the Amon Carter Museum has been American art since about the 1840s and they also have a large photography collection as well. I used to work with Amon Carter as a gallery teacher back right before I was in grad school, so a lot of the art from the Amon Carter has ended up in The Curated Connections Library because I have such a strong connection to that art. I spent so much time with it, teaching back in 2004 I think is when I worked there. What we did in the Amon Carter is we went and we practiced a lot of the gallery activities that we teach at Art Class Curator, writing poems, drawing activities, all sorts of different activities that we did with works of art. It was a whirlwind. It was fast. We did a lot in a very short time but it was really fun. Is there any activity that really stood out to you?
Madalyn Gregory: Oh, goodness. There was one where we were looking at the mobile.
Cindy Ingram: Oh, yes. That one was so good.
Madalyn Gregory: We had them do a kinesthetic activity. Was it a dance?
Cindy Ingram: It was an interpretative dance.
Madalyn Gregory: Yeah, an interpretative dance of this mobile. One group just really went for it. It was so great. They got a standing ovation. It was amazing.
Cindy Ingram: Yeah, one girl is wearing this really long skirt, it was a Calder mobile and she pulled out her skirt to make this really cool triangle shape, then she slowly spinned. We told them it had to be a group. It can’t be that they are all just moving separately. They had to be responding to each other. I’m doing all these movements like you can see me but they’re doing these movements, then that would trigger other movements. It was so good. I forgot about that one.
Madalyn Gregory: I love that. I also loved the poetry activities that we did. We were in one of the smaller spaces and just had everybody pick an artwork they were drawn to, then they could do one of the poetry templates that we have. I remember two people chose the same artwork. To see their different interpretations and to really dive into how they saw it and everybody was giving their own little of what they saw on art, it was great. I loved that.
Cindy Ingram: That one artwork that they both chose, it was so funny. Wasn’t it cork in just a pattern?
Madalyn Gregory: I think it was pieces of wood, wasn’t it?
Cindy Ingram: Yeah, it’s like wood or cork or it was just basically a wood texture that was pieced together. One person was really about more of the materials. Another person was more about the feelings of it. There were totally different interpretations coming out of this really simple artwork. They didn’t have a lot to it but really deep interpretations but totally different. I love that about art that two people can look at the same thing and have completely different experiences. It’s so fun.
These activities would change every time we do this because we picked the activities based on what art was there. Whatever art is there, we’re going to pick the best activity for that artwork. We don’t just have an activity, then pick an artwork. We let the artwork tell us what it wants. We did one where it was like this futuristic scene. It was like this giant painting. It was a stairwell. It was this giant futuristic thing, then they had to draw themselves as if that was their neighborhood or did they draw themselves or their home? No, I don’t remember.
Madalyn Gregory: I’m looking at the artwork. They had to draw themselves as if they were a part of the painting.
Cindy Ingram: It’s like in this futuristic robotic type of style, then they had to add themselves into it. A little drawing activity. We did lots of little things like that. We did elements and principles. I call it the elements and principles shuffle, which I’ve never actually put on the website but I’ve done it in workshops where you look at a painting, then you assign each person an element and/or a principle. Half of the people get an element. Half of the people get a principle. They look at the painting, they write their thoughts about it, then they have to pair up, so then an element person goes with the principle person. If the element person is a shape and the principle person is as a rhythm, they then have to discuss how the shape creates the rhythm or how the shape or the line creates the movement or whatever. Then they pair in different ways, then have little mini conversations, then we talk as a big group about it. It’s just one way to really analyze elements and principles, and how they work together. We did that there too. There were a lot of activities that we did in that two-hour span at the museum but it was awesome. I love it.
Madalyn Gregory: I loved it because by the end of that day, people had already found your person. We had them mixing and matching in different groups, so everybody got to know everybody but by the end of that day, it was like, “Okay, I found somebody that I could hang with, my little teacher friend.” It was just so fun to see everybody come together around art. That’s what art teachers do. They’re so often the only one in school.
Cindy Ingram: Oh yeah, getting to be with people who actually do the same job that you do, it’s not as common for art teachers as it is for other subject areas. The first day was super full. It was really inspiring and engaging. We had a lot of new ideas and energy around the artwork. We wanted the second day to really be focused on the personal connections with the works of art and really wanted to see what it was like to dedicate a whole day to really fostering that connection. We met again at the Fort Worth Community Art Center on the morning of day two and we did some warm-up activities in the galleries there. That was super fun. We did the memorization activity where you have the participants look at the painting for three to five minutes, then they have to turn their back, then recreate it and draw it, or I’ve also had students write about it or explain it and I draw it. There’s a lot of different ways to do it but we had the teachers drawing it. Do you know the name of the artist of that gallery?
Madalyn Gregory: With the birds?
Cindy Ingram: With the birds.
Madalyn Gregory: Gale Gibbs.
Cindy Ingram: This is not really related to the workshop but we were in this gallery with this work by Gale Gibbs and they’re very narrative art but also very symbolic. There were all sorts of symbols in it, then we noticed as we were exploring the gallery after the activity that there were these birds in lots of the artworks, then they were magic birds.
Madalyn Gregory: Yes. That was even the title of one of the paintings. It was like painting in collage. It was like mixed media.
Cindy Ingram: But there was text on there. She writes stories onto the paintings too. Apparently, these magic birds would come and do something in this village. Then we started to realize that these magic birds were in all of the paintings, then we got so excited.
Madalyn Gregory: You’re in a room with a bunch of strangers and everybody’s getting to know each other, everybody after the first day but then we are big nerds. We love art. It’s the same thing that happens in the classroom whenever you’re having an art discussion.
Cindy Ingram: Yes, absolutely.
Madalyn Gregory: That was what happened. We finally started to see the connecting thread. Me, you, and Jen were just going around the room like, “Oh, look at this, over here, the bird is doing this,” and trying to piece together what the story was. I think by the end of it, we looked up and everybody else had already finished but it was amusing to watch them watch us too because they were like, “Oh, okay, we can get into this. This is not a really stuffy event. Let’s all just be really excited about art together.”
Cindy Ingram: Yes, I love it because we were overly excited, almost embarrassingly excited about just how delightful it was. We were just so utterly delighted by these magic birds. That moment when you look up and everybody’s done, and we’re the only ones left, we’re like, “Oh, we’re leaving this thing.” I guess we should keep teaching this thing but it was fun. It’s something I’ve thought about before recently is that when I was younger, I would get excited about things that other people didn’t think were as cool. I would get overly excited by something ridiculous. I still do that, like the way a tree is growing or something totally random, I get overly excited about it and people roll their eyes at me. They’re like, “Why are you so excited about this?” I feel like people stuff that out. I love how excited we got about those.
Madalyn Gregory: We were completely unironically enthusiastic.
Cindy Ingram: Totally charmed and totally devoted.
Madalyn Gregory: Those are the moments that we want to have and that we want to inspire. I think that’s a big reason why over the years, it has shifted away from appreciation and into connection. It was so special on the second day especially to see that happen for the teachers because we hear stories all the time from people who have just found us or people that are members of the library that are having these moments with their students. But to have it as just an individual and as an adult among other adults, that was a very special experience too that I think is just way too rare.
Cindy Ingram: It reminds me there have been times when I’ve been teaching a work of art with a group of kids where somebody makes some observation that is so brilliant, so delightful, and so interesting that everybody is just so excited about that idea. You feel like you’re a part of a community, you feel you’ve got this shared experience together, this shared connection. You feel disconnected in a way that people don’t feel connected that often.
Madalyn Gregory: It reminds me of The Gottman Institute. They talk about relationships more romantically but I think it works with really any group of people. The magic connection that really happens in relationships is whenever people are together looking at a third thing. I think that’s even one of their things, the third thing. It’s you and another person. You’re looking at the third thing. Can you both look at it together and have this moment around it? That’s what we were doing but it wasn’t the third thing, it was however many people were there. That magic of people looking at something together, art is the perfect thing for that. It opens up a relationship in a way that nothing else can.
Cindy Ingram: That was so fun. The rest of the day we spent really dialing into the personal connection element. After that, we headed over to our second art museum which was the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. If you have never been to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, you are missing out. They have an amazing building, an amazing collection. It was a perfect place for this activity because the art is mostly modern and contemporary. I think the earliest stuff they have is like a Picasso. The earliest stuff they have is probably from the 1930s and 1940s. But most of it, they have a lot of abstract expressionism. Then they have a lot of contemporary art as well. They have Kehinde Wiley. They have all sorts of a wide variety of modern and contemporary art.
I was really worried about doing this. This is always something I’ve wanted to try but I was a little nervous about it. I even paired it down a little bit with those nerves. What I wanted to do is first, we gave everyone an opportunity to just explore the museum on their own so that they got to see everything. We spent, I think an hour maybe. Everybody explored the museum. Then their task was to pick one artwork, spend 20 minutes with it and only that artwork. I wanted to do 30 but I was like, “Oh they might revolt at me with 30. That feels too long,” so we did 20. As the assignment was, you pick an artwork, you sit in front of it. Then we had the gallery stools, they didn’t have to stand. You’re not allowed to Google it. You’re not allowed to get on your phone at all. You can take notes. You can sketch. You can read the label but you can’t leave your artwork that you chose.
I chose a Rothko because I wanted to choose something challenging for myself. I knew a lot of people had really strong emotional connections to Rothko and I’ve never really had that so I was like, “Let’s see what happens.” Everybody goes to their artwork. I was planning on going and taking pictures of people, but instead, I just hung out with my artwork, set a timer for 20 minutes. We all came back and 20 minutes was not enough time. Instead of them revolting, everybody was like, “We need more time.”
Madalyn Gregory: It was so great because I had the same anxiety. I was like, “No, it’s going to be great,” but whenever it actually came time, because we gave everybody time to look and pick, I picked mine out and I went back up there. I remember sitting down being like, “It’s going to be really hard to not look at my phone,” or do whatever, but I got settled. The only reason I knew that 20 minutes had passed—because I wasn’t smart, I didn’t set a timer—was that I saw one of the other workshop participants walking back downstairs. I was like, “Wait, what?” and I looked at my phone and it had been 20 minutes. It was so great.
Cindy Ingram: Yeah. I try to but I don’t deliberately spend quiet uninterrupted time, not on a device, not watching a show, not even reading a book. I was very quiet, settled on moving time, undistracted time. It was really lovely to be in that space. Then it was really lovely for me too, as the leader of this event too, I was feeling these energetic tugs in all the areas of the museum. I felt connected to everybody in the museum that was with me but they weren’t with me, looking at the same artwork. I was alone for 20 minutes over this artwork but I didn’t feel alone, I felt I was with you all still. It was a really weird feeling but it felt really good.
Madalyn Gregory: It was very meditative. It just made me want to go and do that every single day. It was hard to even fully articulate, but whenever we did come back together as a group, everybody said the same thing. They were worried. They thought they were going to get bored but our brains are story making machines so even if you’re looking at something very abstract, which a few people had chosen, you don’t stop coming up with new ideas and new insights. We’re connection making machines in a way. It was great.
Cindy Ingram: We all did that then we joined back together in a gallery. We didn’t walk around to everybody’s artwork because there was a big museum, everybody was tired at that point, but we all shared which artwork we sat in front of and what our insights were. It was so wonderful to hear all the different connections people made. There were a couple people who made really strong connections to their own art-making practice. They picked something that is something that they maybe would be drawn to like in their own practice. They learned some drawing tips by looking at it. They learned ways of composing. There was someone who recently had a death in the family and they had an intense connection with the artwork because of that. Didn’t you choose like more like a feminist type of one? Did you do the one upstairs with the text?
Madalyn Gregory: It didn’t have text. I do this weird thing whenever I really have a strong connection with art where I don’t take pictures. I don’t know why but I don’t remember. I don’t remember the artist or the name. It might still be there but it was black and white. It was from the neck up, a portrait of what looked like a black woman but then there was also a theater scene in the back. It was all smooshed. It looked like someone had taken the wet paint, flattened out the top of it and so it was almost ruined but not.
Cindy Ingram: It was Lorna Simpson.
Madalyn Gregory: Yes, yes. There was an iceberg feeling.
Cindy Ingram: It was just so powerful to just sit in a room and hear everyone’s personal connections to the art that they saw. It made me want to do more activities like that and more groups like that. Coming up in the next couple months, I’ve got a new program coming up that’s not related to this. If you’re just really inspired by this particular part, we’ve got more for you coming up too in addition to this workshop. We did that then we had lunch. We were at the Modern. We ate lunch at the Modern because it has a delicious cafe. They have that food that was really good. We had lunch and then we met back again at the Fort Worth Community Art Center after lunch. This is spoiling it a little but hopefully, it’ll be fine.
Madalyn Gregory: You’ll forget.
Cindy Ingram: You’ll forget, yeah. Don’t think too hard about this or remember it too hard. We got back and we talked a little bit about how we like to pair art making with the art connection experiences. We don’t want to do copy versions. We want to be inspired by it but we don’t want it just to be like, “Here’s an iceberg, let’s paint icebergs.” We want you to find a personal connection. What we did with the art making in the afternoon is we said, “Okay, so you spent this time with the artwork, now make an artwork that is inspired by your experience with the artwork at the Modern.” We had an hour, maybe two, or an hour and a half, I don’t remember, it was plenty of time, everybody had time to finish, and we had collage materials out. We had paint. We had markers and colored pencils. We had the leftovers from people’s covers for the sketchbooks. We just let it be open. I like more structure so I was worried about this. I was like, “Oh, what if this just flops?” Oh, it didn’t flop at all. It was so good. The art that those teachers made so deeply personal and related to their own personal journey, related to the art but not copies of it, you could see their personality in the artwork, it was just pure magic.
Madalyn Gregory: I am getting teary thinking about it. I want to find the right words because, like I said, everybody was starting to connect more and more and find their people even within the group. We almost forgot to look at the art together because—we haven’t talked about it yet—but we did another thing after they made the art but before we all looked at it together and they’re like, “But oh no, we’ve got to show each other the art.” It ended up being the absolute best part because art making is always deeply personal no matter what it is about. But to have just sat in front of art and had this intense experience, to immediately go back and be inspired by it, and make something from it, everybody had something different but every piece revealed something about themselves. There’s always going to be a couple that aren’t as talkative. Even those people, it came alive. I felt like I really got to see every individual person and it just overwhelmed me. Several people were teary because it was so good.
Cindy Ingram: That day, it’s a highlight of all of my teaching life. I feel it was a highlight and I’ve taught a lot of groups of people over the course of my career. That was one of the best days, absolutely one of the best days. Because it came together, we saw all the things we’ve been talking about with art connection, all the things that are meaningful to us that we spend so much time thinking about, talking about at Art Class Curator, just to see it happen in real time right in front of us, it was so good .
We did another activity too that day. I honestly can’t even remember all the days. We’re recording this in October. You’re going to listen to this in November. The workshop was in July so I don’t remember all the art, I do have videos of it all. I just remember the one where she took elements of everybody’s book covers and collaged them together into a landscape with a boat.
Madalyn Gregory: Yeah. She made leaves out of the different parts of everybody’s notebooks but it was like a river or lake scene. It was like a pop out because she likes to kayak. There’s the kayak going into the notebook. That was incredible.
Cindy Ingram: So much good. The last thing we did on that day was—I like to do a culminating activity—we went to our third museum, which was the Kimbell Art Museum which is another really beautiful space. They have a very wide collection of art. It’s perfect for this activity. They have art from all over the world. They have art up until basically when the Modern started their art in the 1940’s, Kimbell goes up until that date but they have Egypt. They have pre-columbian art. Then they have one or two of each type. They don’t have 10 examples of ancient Egypt art. They have one really good example of ancient Egypt art. It’s a really cool museum. What we did was they got into groups then they planned an art activity. They looked at the artwork together. They thought about how they would teach it with their kids. They planned the discussion, planned an engaging activity, and planned a project. Everybody went and did that, then everybody presented their activities to the group. That’s always really fun because you get to just take everything that you learn from the whole two days and apply it all together, and actually practice what you’ve been learning.
Madalyn Gregory: I feel like the way we talk about art education is so different than what I feel like anybody else is doing. It’s amazing to see the teachers who, whether they have followed us since the beginning or just recently found us, wanted to do a workshop to see the absolute magic of doing it this way, of not just being a 100% art making and project focused but to really dig deep and get to the emotions and the stories, not just behind the artwork but behind the individuals, behind your students, and behind yourself, to see that culminate in lessons and questions that they wanted to ask their students. They wanted to show them artwork that was going to mean something to them. They did have fantastic project ideas at the end of it. Every artwork was so different and every lesson was, even though they all followed the same format, they were as individual as the teachers themselves.
Cindy Ingram: It was so fun. The one that stands out to me the most was I’m not participating in the activity, I was just walking around watching people taking pictures and dropping in on groups. I was watching this one group with this painting. It’s Frederic Leighton’s Portrait of May Sartoris. I was watching them pick this painting and I was like, “Oh, that is not the one I would have picked. That one seems weird. I can’t wait to see what they did.” But they were into it. I was watching them and they were talking and talking and talking and then they went over to a table and they’re working and working. They were just so engaged in this activity. Then the activity that they chose, that they did was so good. It was about fashion and the kids planned their own. I don’t know what the project was but it was some fashion related project. I was just amazed at where they went with it because it was just not one that I would have chosen, that I would have naturally been drawn too, but they were so into it.
What I loved was the way we talked about art connection, it’s not about art history, it’s not about, “Okay, let’s learn about Frederic Leighton and let’s learn about how he painted and let’s learn about May Sartoris, whoever this is in this painting. Then we’re going to learn all about them and I’m going to tell you all about that, then you’re going to write that down, then you’re going to do a portrait.” It’s something different, something bigger, or something more connected that yes, the student doesn’t then know all about Frederic Leighton or May Sartoris but they have looked at this painting and they found their way into it. They found themselves in it. I think that to me is more important than any fact I could tell them or anything. I think you don’t really truly understand it until you’ve been in the room and experienced that magic for yourself. Once I realized it existed, I became addicted to it. I dedicated my whole life like, “I gotta keep doing this because this feels so magical, important and meaningful to me that I just want everyone to have that same experience, the same magic.”
Madalyn Gregory: It’s the teaching high and the light bulb moments all rolled up into one. The last couple years, everybody has been abuzz about social emotional learning and teaching the whole child. This is that. If you look back at your own school experience, do you remember every fact that you wrote down? Do you remember the perfect timeline of what you learned in history? Or if you did have art history in college? There might be moments or little details that you remember but we remember how people made us feel and the connections that we make in learning far more than we remember dates and figures or how to draw a line or any of that. This way of connecting with art, connecting with students, and connecting with each other really is the whole package. If you can do this consistently and have this in your classroom, like you said, you made your own little museum and that’s what the classroom can be. That’s what you can be for all of your students if you just let it happen.
Cindy Ingram: That was good. That’s all that needs to be said about that workshop. That was really so powerful, so good and that’s what this can be in your classroom, like what Madalyn was saying. It really can be that way. I had a lot of these types of moments in my classroom where you just saw those light bulbs, you saw those connections. You knew your students better and they knew themselves better. It’s just truly beautiful. If you want to come to this workshop, we have it scheduled.
Madalyn Gregory: And you should.
Cindy Ingram: And you should. Absolutely, you should because it is so so good. The workshop will be June 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, 2022. You notice I added in a third day. Like I said the first workshops we did, people wanted more. That happened this time too, they wanted more. We’re not adding a full third day, we’re adding in a reception or a social hour, social time on the 22nd in the late afternoon or early evening. The bulk of the workshop will be the 23rd and the 24th, which is a Thursday and Friday. It will again be at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Then on the 22nd, we will have a special get together and that way we can get to know each other before we dive into the art connection and learning, we can have a little meet and greet. The hours of that will be sent to you once you register. But if you do register, you can plan on something at four o’clock or after on the 22nd in the afternoon.
If you would like to register, you can go to artclasscurator.com/experience. We have early bird pricing right now until the end of 2021, so until January 1st, you can register for $389 and that’s what we charged last year and so we’re adding more to it. If you’d register for our workshop before the end of 2021, you can get a bonus of getting all of the recordings for Call to Art 1 and Call to Art 2, which are the conferences that we did in 2020. It has over 50 hours of professional development sessions. I think the number of presenters is 75 plus presenters. Tons of amazing sessions to hold you over until the summer. You can get that if you register before the end of the year as well. You can register at artclasscurator.com/experience and we will accept a P.O if your school wants to pay for it. I promise you this is going to be another really magical, I keep saying magical but it just really was, a really wonderful, wonderful session that we hope to meet you at. Any final words from you, Madalyn, about this amazing workshop?
Madalyn Gregory: Just come, be unironically enthusiastic about art with us, and you’re going to connect with art and connect with other art teachers. Just enjoy yourself and it’s going to be a vacation and professional development all rolled up into one. You’re going to love it, so come.
Cindy Ingram: All right. Thank you again, Madalyn, for joining me to talk about this workshop today.
Madalyn Gregory: Always a pleasure.
Cindy Ingram: I hope to see you all listening at our summer workshop in June of 2022. It’s artclasscurator.com/experience. I will see you again next week on the Art Class Curator Podcast. Bye.
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