Monthly Mentor

Barbara Laws (January)
Barbara Laws is a veteran educator. She has been working as the Senior Coordinator for Art in Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia for the past 14 years. Before that, she held the positions of elementary school assistant principal, instructional specialist, and art teacher, all for Norfolk Public Schools.She has served the National Art Education Association in a number of positions: Supervision and Administration Division Director; National Convention Program Director; and Southeastern Region Vice President and has served on various committees.Her honors include NAEA Elementary Art Educator, Supervision and Administration Art Educator, Marion Quin Dix Award and Distinguished Fellow. She is also actively involved with the Virginia Art Education Association and has served in many capacities, including, President, Secretary; Supervision and Administration Division Chair; Policy Chair; and TVAEA President. She has been named Virginia Art Educator and is also a VAEA Distinguished Fellow. She was a Founding Director of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is currently appointed to the Norfolk Commission for Arts and Humanities and involved with the Virginia Coalition for Fine Arts Education. She earned her Doctor of Education degree from The George Washington University and her Master's and Bachelor's degrees from Old Dominion University.



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« It’s Youth Art Month! | Main | Visual Culture - Part 2 »

March 04, 2013

Visual Culture

The second path I want to journey down is my passion for Visual Culture and how that ties into our classrooms.

Let’s kick off with a little about my passion for Visual Culture. It was probably always lurking in the background, but it came to light with beginning to pin down a topic for my MA thesis at the University of Northern Iowa in 2008. Christopher Schulte* was there pushing me to dig deep into what drove me, to find a passion for a topic. I shared a story with him about a recent article I had read titled “50 Works of Art You Should See Before You Die” and a television commercial I had seen while watching football with my family of boys. The middle of the commercial for Sprint® featuring Peyton Manning (then quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts) flashed a few second likeness to M. C. Escher’s “Relativity.” I immediately caught the likeness, but no one else did. With the wonders of DVR, I backed the commercial up and asked my three boys (husband and two sons, ages 14 and 8 at the time) if they recognized any likeness of a work of art in the commercial. They didn’t. I grabbed the laptop and pulled up Escher’s work and they could then recognize the likeness. (Go ahead, search youtube for the “Manning’s Mind” commercial. You know you want to.)

This made me wonder if I was teaching my students to recognize the subtleties in today’s world where famous works of art were being infused all around us. The moment clicked. I had found my passion … Visual Culture.

*Now Dr. Christopher Schulte is an Assistant Professor at Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia after receiving his doctorate at Penn State University. Dr. Schulte is also a 2013 Elliot Eisner Doctoral Research Award in Art Education Runner-Up.

—Ronda Sternhagen   


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