I drove down into Cache Valley and even though my heater was cranked, the temperature in my car dropped. The cold seeped in around me. 11 degrees. First stop Edith Bowen Elementary on the Utah State Campus to visit three different classes, fourth and fifth grade, second grade and 1st grade talking about the life of a children’s book illustrator. But first I had to make my way into the school. I dragged my suitcase across the ice about half a block from the parking terrace to the school. The cold bit into my hands. Just keep walking and hurry. I made it to the school doors and read the sign. “For the students safety these doors are locked. Please enter through the north doors.” I thought I was going to freeze to death before I found the right door. I found the right doors and the right classes and the students were great. Day one down.
The rest of the week was at Greenville Elementary as Artist-In-Residence. The fourth graders learn about the five Utah Native American Tribes and the teachers wanted me to integrate that into my visit.
I walked the students through a portrait of a Shoshone. We talked about the Southern Paiutes and listened to a bit of the Paiute language. The fourth grade art was amazing.
The students concentrated and drew carefully. The room was absolutely quiet except for the sound of pencil to paper. The teachers were very supportive and the art specialist jumped in with some great help with logistics.
Here is a picture of the art specialist and the Cache District Arts Coordinator. They were great.
I saw one of the students sitting in the back and holding his portrait so no one else could see it. He was looking like someone had just ordered him to eat the rest of his over cooked broccoli.
I went back to him and said, “That is a mighty fine portrait of an Indian.” He held up his feather that we were suppose to attach to the portrait. He had cut off the hole punch. I told him to bring it up front and we would punch another hole. I told him that is such a good portrait that he should give me a nice big grin. He stretched his lips thin but neither end curled up.
The next day we worked on drawing and watercoloring chuckwallas. He brought up his finished chuckwalla to show me. He held it out for my inspection and asked, “Does this look like a lizard?”
I said, “That does not look like a lizard. That looks like an amazing CHUCKWALLA!.” He gave me a genuine, full faced grin.
That is what these visits are for, sharing with students the joy that comes from creating art and letting them be the artist in charge of their own work. It was a great week.
(Thanks to Aurora Hughes Villa for many of the photos.)