Monthly Mentor

Michelle Ridlen (December)Ridlen
I am Michelle Ridlen, a proud artist educator, and I am very excited to be writing for the NAEA Monthly Mentor blog as the 2016 Western Region Supervision/Administration Art Educator of the Year. This is my first time officially blogging to the world at large and I am looking forward to interacting with others in our creative field. I live in Missouri where I serve as the K-12 Fine Arts Curriculum Content Leader for the Francis Howell School District. Before stumbling into the supervision/administration side of education, I was both a middle school and high school art teacher for a total of twelve years, where I loved creating with my students. Each age group brought about unique challenges and celebrations. For the past eight years, I have been our district Fine Arts Content Leader, where I work with incredible teachers, in the areas of visual arts, music and theatre, to write curriculum, support their work in the classroom, and research best practices. I promote the work we do in our creative fields and the importance of an arts education for all students. Click "Go" to read full bio.

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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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