- Photography by Heather Canterbury
Q&A: Brianna Peterson, Participating Art Teacher in Thea's Arts Reconstruction Summer 2019 P
Brianna Peterson, an art teacher at Bryant High School, is the next educator we're featuring in our special Q&A series for participating teachers who learned about cyanotype at UA Little Rock's Windgate Center of Art + Design during Thea's Arts Reconstruction professional development week held in June. With nearly a decade of teaching experience, Brianna shares her enthusiasm for adding a new medium to this year's curriculum and answers passionately about why art is vital for the development of our youth
How many years have you been an art teacher in Arkansas? Where do you currently teach and what grades does your instruction cover? Yearly average amount of students taught?
This school year, I will be entering my 9th year of teaching art in Arkansas. I taught art at the elementary level for 3 years and have taught at the high school level for 5 years. I currently teach 10th - 12th grade at Bryant High School. The courses that I teach include Drawing II, 2D Design, and Painting. I teach roughly 150 students per semester. Two of the six classes that I teach are semester courses, therefore I teach around 200 students a school year.
To date, what has your experience been with the Thea Foundation? Have you benefited from programs outside of the Arts Reconstruction’s professional development week?
My experience with the Thea Foundation has been professionally and personally enriching. Every year, I encourage students to apply for the Thea Scholarship for Visual Arts. I also encourage other departments at my school to share information about Thea Scholarship opportunities. I have not taken advantage of Thea’s Art Closet, although that is something that I am interested in doing in the future. Personally, I attend Thea art exhibitions and enjoy viewing the array of artists that have displayed their work there. It is a goal of mine to participate in The Art Department as well.
During the 2019 professional development week, what were some of the personal highlights from learning about cyanotype at UA Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art + Design?
Attending Thea’s Art Reconstruction, allowed me to gain a deeper knowledge of the versatility of working with cyanotypes. I have worked with cyanotypes before, but not to this extent. Through the program, I was able to experiment with different techniques in order to explore various outcomes. In addition, I was able to see how my peers were manipulating the material. This will be useful when providing cyanotype lessons to my students. I will be able to adapt cyanotype lessons based on my student’s skill level. This opportunity allowed me to collaborate with professors at UA Little Rock and peers in order to add tools to my toolbox.
How confident do you feel about incorporating this new medium during your 2019-20 school year curriculum?
I feel very confident about incorporating cyanotype into my 2019-20 school year curriculum. I will integrate lessons into my curriculum for each of my classes. Also, I attended Arts Reconstruction with a colleague and we discussed how to vertically align cyanotype lessons for our students as they take courses within our department.
How do you think your students will benefit from this new addition to your curriculum?
Students enjoy being challenged by unfamiliar mediums and processes. This will be an opportunity for them to express themselves creatively while problem solving cyanotype techniques. Also, I’ll be able to vertically align cyanotype techniques within my courses. Therefore, students will be able to advance their knowledge of working with cyanotypes as they take more advanced courses in art.
What do you wish others knew about the needs of art educators in Arkansas?
Art education should be valued at the same level as core classes. By taking art courses, students learn to express themselves creatively, problem-solve, develop motor skills, increase academic performance, utilize decision-making, persevere. In addition to obtaining soft skills, Art opens a lens for students to gain an intrinsic understanding of beliefs and an extrinsic sense of the world around them. The general public should advocate for art educators in Arkansas in order to support students' personal and academic growth in their future.
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