SchoolArts Magazine

September 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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two students earned honor- able mention awards and prize money, and most recently, a stu- dent earned second place. This recognition started a butterfly effect that has greatly impacted my students' confidence levels in subsequent years. ArtXpress Helene Fleishman also played a significant role in helping me advocate for my students. For more than a year, I knew her through email correspondence in which she encouraged me to have students apply for internships at the Milwaukee Art Museum and various themed art shows. When I met her for the first time in person, I instantly recognized her passion to help students become more involved in the arts. Helene ran an internship program called ArtXpress, an intensive studio internship for Milwaukee teens, who work closely with museum staff educators and professional artists at RedLine Milwaukee to create pub - lic works of art. One such project involved displaying images with messages significant to teens on the side of a Milwaukee County bus. A D V O C A C Y CONTINUED ON PAGE 42. like. I wanted to do for my students what Frank did for me, to help them become people who could not only advocate for themselves, but also help others to find their own voice in the world. Advocating for Students My first goal was to create a well- rounded curriculum and establish a classroom culture that allowed students to believe in themselves and their ability to pursue art for any purpose they chose. I shaped my lessons to encourage students to become self-reflective. For example, students created self-portraits that focused on how they wished the world viewed them. Throughout the process of reflecting on where they came from, where they are, and where they were going, they real - H ired just days before the start of the 2014 school year, I stood in the doorway of my artroom feeling little more than over - whelmed. I had no curriculum and no resources. Fortunately, I've had many mentors who taught me the importance of promoting and sup - porting the arts, and I quickly real- ized just how important it was going to be to expose my students to the arts and to advocate for them and my art program. Lasting Mentorship One of my mentors, Frank Juarez, invited me to become part of the Midwest Artist Studios project. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that gave me an intimate glimpse into the lives of practicing artists and educators. During the course of three years, we interviewed twenty- four artists across the Midwest, and I was able to share with my students new and exciting lessons and the unique stories and paths that each of the artists took. My primary focus at school was to lead by example, and Frank showed me exactly what a true leader looked ized the importance of making a conscious decision about how they wanted to be perceived in society. Beyond School Walls Many of my units were designed to help students build self-confidence. Part of this process was to begin sub- mitting work to various art shows. I n 2014, my students were appre- hensive to submit their work and therefore expose themselves to criti- cism. They also had yet to experi- ence the feeling of seeing their work d isplayed outside of school. I wanted my students to understand that there is an entire world beyond the walls of the school that strongly advocates and supports art. We participated in The Congres - sional Art Show sponsored by Con- gresswoman Gwen Moore. In 2015, Art Expresses Jonathan Fritsch I wanted m tudents to understand that there is an entire world be ond the walls of the school that strongl advocates and supports art. One of Frisch's students had her art featured on a Milwaukee Count us. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11. Art Inspires Advocacy One student of mine, Zoua Pa Yang, was the type of stu- dent you just know is going to do great things. She was very shy but extremely talented, and I witnessed her con- fidence level increase exponentially after participating in the ArtXpress program. Zoua is currently a university undergraduate studying art therapy and advocating for the importance of art in our community among her peers. She has inspired her sister to pursue the arts and study art therapy as well. She has provided me with something invaluable: the confidence that each generation will do their part in advocating for the arts. Jonathan Fritsch is an art teacher at Hmong American Peace Acad- emy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. jonathanfritsch@yahoo.com W E B L I N K mam.org/learn/details/teen_artXpress.php 42 SEPTEMBER 2017 SchoolArts Get Published! Write for SchoolArts! SchoolArts.com/WritersGuidelines

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