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 04, 2016

What’s the hype with Skype?

From: Frank Juarez

For the past summer I have been working on a personal project focusing on connecting art education with regional contemporary artists. One way of connecting was through the use of Skype. What I found fascinating is how accessible artists and their willingness to interact with students. Keep in mind, not all artists are comfortable talking in front of students. So it is helpful to ask before bringing them into the classroom.

As an art educator, I am often thinking about my students and my art program. I want to provide them as many resources and opportunities as possible. I want to expose, educate, and engage them into a variety of areas that exist within art education and the art world. After all, they do go hand-in-hand.

Before I began to put time and energy into this personal project, I was curious as to how many art educators tap into their local art community and/or invite artists into the classroom. After surveying about 50 art educators via social media, I concluded that a very high percentage shared that they do not invite artists into their classroom because they did not know artists in their community, do not have the budget to pay for artists’ visits, and are new to the profession.

I do believe in providing some type of stipend to artists visiting my classroom. After all, how many times are we asked to do things for free? I would not wish this on any artist. Paying a stipend to visiting artists can get costly, so the next best solution is to take advantage of what we currently have in our classroom and that is technology.

I wanted to introduce my students to artists from all over the country so I approached some artists whom I have been following through social media. One artist whose work I am totally into is the work of Brooklyn-based collage artist, Jay Riggio. I first met Jay via Instagram. From there, I came across one of his stickers in Greenpoint, NY during a visit last summer.

Mikayla1  Mikayla2

Last semester, one of my AP studio art students, Mikayla, was working on a collage and the way she composed her work reminded me of Jay’s work. I knew from that moment that Mikayla had to meet Jay, so I contacted him. I arranged a time and date to Skype him into the classroom. Although the conversation and critique was between the two of them, the entire class was able to observe on the screen. To date, she has been making more collages and I believe making this connection has had a positive impact on her work and growth.

Mikayla3 Mikayla4
Mikayla5 Mikayla6 Mikayla7 Mikayla8

Web Resources: 
Skype with Jay Reggio:
North High Art Department:


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