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AIE program brings application to art

By Staff, 11/14/17 9:44 AM

HOPE – Art often involves math; sometimes, it involves science, and it frequently requires an understanding of history. The interdisciplinary nature of art that is brought to the Hope Public Schools through the Arts in Education program is a side effect of a series of classes taught by Artists in Residence Mary Sanders-Overton and Sue Allen Pico.
Both Sanders-Overton and Pico are Arkansas artists who are part of a wide range of arts contributors to the program through the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. They are available to the Hope Public Schools through a grant program in conjunction with the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council.
“I bring something to the subject that is not in the textbooks,” Pico, of Shirley, said as she closed a week of classes at Hope High School with Kendrick Adams’ students.
Pico specializes in creating a realization in students that they can create art.
“Everybody has heard the idea that, ‘You can’t draw,’” she said. “I don’t believe that. Talent is overrated; anybody who practices enough can be good. Perhaps, not Michelangelo; but, they can be good enough to draw.”
Pico put that premise into action through the week with Adams’ first year, first semester students.
“There will be a few that will get excited and continue on,” she said.
For the most part, the week introduces students in classes such as Adams’ high school class to a variety of ideas wrapped in artistic expression. The first part of the week, the students created Native American “dream catchers,” a woven art form. Pico integrated the project with tales from her family’s early settlement in Arkansas from the Dakota Territory.
“Art may be for some students the only success they have in an educational environment,” she said.
Integrating history, math and other academics into the creative process helps to build a foundation for students. Pico likes to lay the foundation and let classroom teachers take over.
“I teach myself out of a job,” she quipped.
The second part of the week in Adams’ class were studies in calligraphy and cartooning; diverse, yet related art forms.
“I wanted her to teach something that I hadn’t taught,” Adams said.
Pico also teaches self-discipline while students enjoy the different art forms.
“They have to follow instructions in using the calligraphy pens; they have to do the measuring, because if they don’t, their work will show it,” she said. “If they get lazy, it will show up.”
Calligraphy requires specific movement and focused attention, while cartooning requires an attention to placement and consistency, both of which instill aspects of self-discipline.
Sanders-Overton, of West Fork, returned to the Hope district this month to teach week-long sessions on Egyptian Tomb Art at Beryl Henry Elementary School, a favorite among students; and, the art of geography at Yerger Middle School and Clinton Primary School.
“I like to show them how it looks and what the history is,” Sanders-Overton said.
The Egyptian Tomb Art session for Stephanie Smelley’s sixth grade classes requires students to learn aspects of human physiology to produce realistic facial art that might be reflected on an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. Math is integrated into the work in learning the spacial relationships of the human face.
One of Sanders-Overton’s favorite projects involves Arkansas history and the development of both a topographic and historical map of the state. Students create detailed geographic maps of the state on paper, and other classes produce detailed three-dimensional maps that reflect the topography of the state, integrating art, history and geography into the final product.
“It’s the multiple aspects of it that make it interesting to them,” Sanders-Overton said.
She emphasizes a research-based result, which has helped students better understand the geography of Arkansas, and the value of the concept of geography.
Sanders-Overton received the Arkansas Department of Education Excellence in Education Award in 2014, and she has participated in the AIE program for almost a decade.






Artist in Residence Sue Allen Pico observes students as they begin work on a calligraphy project in Hope High School art teacher Kendrick Adams’ first year art class; and, artist Mary Sanders-Overton explains how to represent geographic features on a map to Yerger Middle School students. Both artists are part of the Arts in Education program in the Hope Public Schools. – Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools


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