Creative expressions were in abundance during the 2014 Alabama Art Education Association (AAEA) Convention hosted by the Museum on Friday, November 14. Following the welcoming introduction by Connie Deal, Montgomery Academy teacher and AAEA president elect for 2015, more than 140 art educators from all around the state began their art journey, rotating round robin style through six hands-on workshops during the day. The conference theme, “Art Journey”, was a fitting one, as the educators were introduced to significant works of art and explored connecting lessons for their classrooms.
Evelyn Shoults, St. James Academy teacher, demonstrated silkscreen printing techniques and helped participants make prints using embroidery hoops and fabric as simple silkscreens, while Connie Deal encouraged teachers to explore bleach pen drawing on fabric aprons. Tim Brown, MMFA Curator of Education, led “Tim Talks”, sharing his favorite art apps and tech resources for teachers, and Montgomery Academy teacher and artist Camilla Armstrong inspired everyone to paint loosely with quick exercises focusing on color, value and contrast. Donna Pickens, MMFA Assistant Curator of Education, led the participants in creating art masks made of air dry clay, inspired by the African art exhibition. MMFA docents Gloria Simons, Pamela Swan, and Alma Freeman led guided tours of two major museum exhibitions. The workshops also referenced works of art from both of the exhibitions.
Lunch and dinner were served in the Lowder Gallery, beautifully decorated by BeeLee Tullos and some of the Montgomery Academy parents. During lunch, Jessica Balsley, a nationally recognized art educator, inspired teachers to retain their passion for teaching art over the years with her suggestions for coping with school systems that often discourage creativity. She also shared thoughts about her journey as a classroom art teacher and now as the director of her online website.
Educators of the year at the elementary, middle school, secondary, higher education, and museum levels were recognized during the AAEA awards program during dinner. The evening ended with an “Arty Party” in the Museum studios, as participants visited the artist market and created whimsical hats and edible art (drawings with edible markers on marshmallows placed on skewers).
On Saturday another round of workshops and discussions was hosted by the Montgomery Academy. All in all, the convention was very successful, and the MMFA received praise from many participants, some of whom were visiting for the first time. Hopefully many of the educators will bring their students for tours in the future. At the end of the conference, Jessica Balsley stated that the Museum was the most beautiful venue she had ever spoken in around the country. She plans to feature scenes from the MMFA on her art of Ed webpage, followed by 18,000 art educators!
Donna Pickens, Assistant Curator of Education