Professional artists from the Gold Canyon Arts Council’s Leland Wilson School Art Project have been working with students in Allison Baumann’s eighth grade art class at Cactus Canyon Junior High School in Apache Junction, during the weeks of April 26-29 and May 2-6.
This year’s artists in residence are Dr. Mary Stokrocki, a professor emerita of art education at ASU; and Kathy Mitchell, a retired art teacher and professional watercolor artist.
They are both teaching weaving to students in Mrs. Baumann’s class.
For several years, Leland Wilson Artists in Residence projects have been presented at Desert Vista Elementary School, Peralta Elementary School, and in the schools on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
To introduce the residency, Dr. Stokrocki presented a power point slide show on the history and types of weaving. She brought an Iranian woven carpet to show the students and discussed with them the symbols depicted in the woven carpet. The students began by drawing a simple design on paper to be used for their pattern. The students were given a 9-inch-by-12-inch cardboard loom and were instructed how to warp their looms.
Throughout the week, the master teaching artists demonstrated different techniques, assisted the students in problem solving and completing their woven tapestries. As a nice way to wrap things up, the last day of the weaving class, on May 6, Ms. Baumann enlisted a guest speaker, Velma Kee Craig, a Navajo weaver to come to the class and discuss the art of Navajo weaving.
The seventh- and eighth-grade students in Mrs. Baumann’s class were enthusiastic and eager to learn something different and to interact with these professional artists. It was a rewarding and delightful experience for both the artists and students.
The Gold Canyon Arts Council thanks Ken Deloera, principal of Cactus Canyon Junior High School, and art teacher Allison Baumann for inviting these artists into the school. We also thank the Artists of the Superstitions for donating the yarn for this weaving class and look forward to working with the students next school year.
The Gold Canyon Arts Council, in addition to this visual arts program, presents in-school concerts, master classes, workshops, and guitar lessons to hundreds of students in Pinal, Gila and eastern Maricopa Counties. The arts council also donated arts supplies during the recent COVID Pandemic. All programs are presented free of charge. More information may be found on the council’s website at goldcanyonarts.org.
Editor’s note: Kathy Mitchell is a Gold Canyon Arts Council visual artist.
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