Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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February 10, 2016

Sheboygan North High Artist in Residence Program

From: Frank Juarez

This week I will be sharing with you three programs that I have implemented into my art curriculum at Sheboygan North High School. These programs have broadened my students’ perspective on contemporary art at the local, regional, and national level. The second program is called The NHS AiR, which was started in 2014.


About two year ago I invited a good friend of mine, Miranda Kay Levy, fashion designer, to visit us for an after school art project called Splatter Paint Fashion Show. I wanted her to provide constructive criticism to two students who organized this event, Erica Barringer and Karly Kainz. During the event my principal, Jason Bull, started a conversation with Miranda. Turns out that she was doing an artist in residency at Bay View High School in Milwaukee.


The next day or so my principal approached me with the idea of ‘what if’ we started an artist in residency at North High School? Without hesitation, I said yes. I knew exactly whom I needed to talk to regarding a program like this – Steve Vande Zande. Steve runs the artist in residency program at Bay View High. He provided me with information that helpful in planning out what this residency would work at my school. After a few weeks of brainstorming I was ready to present my findings to my principal and Seth Harvatine, Secondary Education Coordinator.



I wanted to make this new program multi-disciplinary. I wanted this program to bring in artists who value education, love working with students, and are open to brainstorm on ideas that teachers had.  I also wanted to offer our artists in residence with a studio space to create their own work and exhibit at North High towards the end of their residency. I also wanted to provide them with a stipend. The latter is always the part that many shy from since a) there may not be a budget for this, b) what would be a fair stipend for artists, and, c) would I have to tap into artists in my community to see if they would do it for free?



I knew that I did not want to offer this to any artist as a free service so I had to create a program that communicated engagement from staff and students, document student work created during the artists’ visits, invite my superintendent and secondary education coordinator to meet the artists, and so on. I had to advocate for this program in order to make it happen even if my principal had suggested it.



To date, we have worked with three artists in residence from Fond du Lac, Sheboygan Falls, and Sheboygan. Each brought something special to our staff and students. They worked with teachers from World Language to Social Studies, Culinary Arts to English, Humanities to Science. The artist in residency is a young program with a lot of success. 



One of the most rewarding things I have observed stemming from this program is last month we had a reception for our fall semester artist in residence, Liz Lange. One of my colleagues, Sylvia Cavanaugh, brought her poetry club to the reception. Her students began to write poems about Liz’s paintings that they connected with. The magical moment from this experience was when they began to recite their poem to us. Wow!  

Artist Liz Ann Lange, artist in residence, at Sheboygan North High School from Frank Juarez on Vimeo.

You may be wondering about Art. I have invited these visiting artists into my classroom as a means to provide my students with another person to facilitate a critique session, another artist to ask questions, and to have them interact with one another through art activities. This program has definitely made an impact on how North High students view art, appreciate art, and relate to art. However, one of the most important things that this program offers to our school is that visual arts is an integral part of student learning and without it may be a little difficult to see the world around us.



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