Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kara Walker Inspired Social Justice Issue Collages

 Social justice issues are a great way to tie in the everyday experiences and concerns of personal relevance to students. After brainstorming various social justice issues and introducing the work of contemporary artist Kara Walker, students created their own meaningful collages based on her work. I was very moved by the content, thoughtfulness, and power within each of their works. My students never cease to inspire me in their capacity of concern for others. Student work also tied into Black History month and their social studies TEKS and was built onto a Civil Rights Leaders portrait series inspired by MLK's birthday.

We learned about the art element shape and the design principle contrast, positive, and negative space. Very interesting and compassionate discussions resulted in response to this lesson and many of the same social issues concerning students today kept coming up such as body image and eating disorders, bullying, cyber bullying, racial issues, violence, Civil war history, homelessness, gender equality, slavery, LGBTQI rights, domestic violence, Veterans, poverty, food stamps, and immigration which was a window into the concerns my students have in their personal lives. Art can be a transformative method of healing and used as a way to express thoughts and feelings in ways words cannot. I reinforced concepts of creating a narrative from their ELAR classes as well and how could they use their artwork to tell a story with images instead of words.

This was my first time teaching this lesson and I cannot wait to teach it again in the future.

Monday, March 23, 2015

STEAM: Science Technology Engineering ART and Math

Interdisciplinary lessons are essential for providing a well rounded and holistic curriculum for any child. I do believe that Art is important for Art's sake but enjoy being able to incorporate and reinforce TEKS in students' core subject areas to help them find real world applications, support their STAAR performance, as well as give them hands on project based learning opportunities. Creativity and problem solving skills in my art studio laboratory carry over into all subjects and help give students a foundation in learning 21st century skills through science, technology, engineering, art, and math to create new generations of makers.

Recently, my 8th graders explored topography in their science classes and I have been reinforcing and scaffolding upon these concept in a current collage lesson where we explore and create our own topographical maps. Inspired by the work of contemporary artist Jen Stark, students have successfully been creating collages using texture and form.

For more information about artist Jen Stark, you may visit:

Many of these works will be on exhibit at the upcoming Jerry's Art A Rama Middle School Art Exhibit-stay tuned!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Success at the University Interscholastic League Event!

I am SO proud of all my students who participated in the UIL event in January! My 8th graders swept  1st place in three of the four categories for their grade level.

8th grade 3-Dimensional 1st place Marisela Gonzales 
DRAWING 4th place Alondra Carrillo 
PAINTING 1st place Melissa MAcedo 
MISC MEDIA 1st place Makaylah Hernandez 
2nd place Debanhi Gonzalez 

Student Art Exhibits Around Austin: Connecting Communities

This year I have placed even more emphasis on helping build up our Arts program by utilizing some of my connections to our local cultural arts community to display student artwork. Many community arts programs do not serve Del Valle ISD and I love being able to advocate for our students who are underserved and underrepresented in so many ways as it is. I believe connecting communities through art can be a used as a method of social change and all exhibits have been free and open and accessible to the public.

Thank you to the support of the City of Austin and my former co-workers at the Austin Public Library and Mexican American Cultural Center! I am so grateful for these opportunities to showcase my students' hard work, creativity, and talent and be able to provide them with real world experiences in working towards becoming professional artists. My middle school students are already beginning to develop a portfolio if they choose to continue to pursue AP Studio Art in high school and college, I feel confident that these experiences professionally displaying their artwork will help give them an edge in competitive job and college markets.

Stay tuned for a post about student work on display at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center 100% Exhibit. Student work is already currently on display at the Carver Museum as part of Black History Month. Featured are several civil rights leaders portraits.

In November, students displayed their work as part of the East Austin Studio Tour for the 2nd year in a row. We were the only students in Del Valle ISD to display artwork as part of EAST and some of the youngest artists on the tour. Work was on display at the Willie Mae Kirk Branch of the Austin Public Library for the entire month of November.

For the 2nd year in a row as well, students from my Pre AP Art I class displayed their work at the Mexican American Cultural Center during the month of December. After learning about various types of Mexican artwork and culture, students created work that included Amate bark paintings, papier mache alebrijes, and silkscreened t-shirts created with outreach programming from the Mexi-Carte Museum's Screen-It! program.

Artist extraordinaire and young fashion designer, Vanessa Gonzalez, won a Gold Key Award as part of the Scholastic Art and Writing competition. She was the only student in DVISD to place and one of only four middle schoolers to win a Gold Key Award. Here she is proudly displaying her certificate at the Nancy Scanlan Gallery at St. Stephen's Episcopal School-my alma mater! It was a very moving experience for me to return to my own high school with my student as my experiences there helped inspire me to become a teacher myself!
This same dress also placed First Place in our 2nd Annual Del Valle ISD Fine Arts Event. Vanessa beat out high school students-including even the Advanced Placement student work! This amazing fashion creation is on view currently at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport through the month of April.

First Place Winner at the 2nd Annual Del Valle ISD Fine Arts Event! Work on display at ABIA!

Congratulations to all our talented students who participated at our 2nd Annual Del Valle ISD Fine Arts Event this past Saturday!
Ms. Gray’s student Vanessa Gonzalez won first place for her recycled dress “Fire.” She was the only middle schooler to place in the top categories AND was competing against the Advanced Placement High School students! Well done, Vanessa!
Melissa Macedo, another of Ms. Gray’s students, painting was also selected to be in display at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport through April. 

if you traveling during the month of April at ABIA be sure to check out their marvelous talent!!



FIRST PLACE: Vanessa Gonzalez, Fire, Recycled materials and acrylic paint and tape

Melissa Macedo, Amate Bark Painting, acrylic paint on paper
The above works, any many others by our talented DVISD students, are currently on display at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport until the end of April