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Maryland Art Summit

I am so honored and proud to be apart of this years Maryland Art Summit as an ambassador and a creative co-host!

This year’s 2nd Annual Maryland Arts Summit is going VIRTUAL! The Summit is full of  presenters with years of experience in the field.

This 4 DAY EVENT will feature everyone from Independent Artists to Arts Organization’s Executive Directors to Advocates of the community. With so much information in one space, it would be a shame to miss out.

Did I mention that it’s FREE?! That’s right FREE! Head over to mdarts.org/summit to register for this amazing event.

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Processing

Today went well…

I could tell students were really in shock and didn’t know what to do. They were quieter.

Today I spoke to them about what was happening, and shared where the online art resources were located for them to do over the next two weeks. These digital resource folders were uploaded to each class, and they are for practice only. If students want to use them over the 2 weeks they can, but they are not mandatory.

We discussed how things might be longer than 2 weeks, and we might have to go to online learning if that happens. They’re responses were, “That would not be good. I can’t focus at home. I won’t ever do any work! I need accountability. I’ll get distracted by Minecraft!” Its funny to me because when everything is normal they don’t want to be in school… but when presented with the opportunity to not being school, they realize they might not have the self control to keep learning up to their potential!

Well then shared with them again that the best thing for them to do right now is to take care of themselves mentally and physically. To take time to rest and breath, not allowing themselves to be overwhelmed with stress or fear.  Using art to help you express how you’re feeling and how your processing this new experience. I encouraged them to keep a journal about it all, and to spend some time creating art that represents this experience for them. 

Also I mentioned they should eat less processed sugar if they can help it, since it does not help their immune system. You should’ve heard how almost every class responded to my sugar comment! It was amazing how defensive they became. So many students said, “What?! Oh No! I dont think I could do that. I love sugar.”    If they only knew how much better they would feel if they had less sugar in their diet!

After school was over I realized I needed to take my plants home with me, because there would be no one there to water them for 2 weeks. So many things I had to consider and contemplate today. Even before going to the grocery store at 4pm.

When I parked at Shoprite, I knew what I was getting myself into.  There wasn’t too much missing when I arrived. The bananas were gone, and so was all the rubbing alcohol, peroxide, toilet paper, and bread. The rest of the store was pretty much stocked. It was so weird.

And then I went to stand in line… and I had to go pretty much halfway down the aisle to get to the end of the line. I waited in line for about 40 mins at least. Everyone was very friendly and polite. Helping each other find what they needed and waiting line while having small talk. It was nice to see people being kind.

Today went well, but was also very overwhelming.

The amount of information, what ifs and questions I had to process today put my mind on overload, and being around all of those people in the grocery store added a level of emotions that were tough to balance.

When I got home from the store all I wanted to do was sit by myself alone, and cry. Releasing all of that tension and energy back into a neutral space of love and balance.

Being alone to process what we experience and feel is a very important part of learning and growing… of knowing thy self.

The energy of this experience is quite new… so slow and steady is the only way to navigate.

Keep breathing, in and out.

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For the First time…

All Maryland public schools will be closed from Monday March 16th until March 27th because of the coronavirus.

As of this moment, we will not have to teach for those two weeks. However they mentioned that we will have to use our spring break time to make it up.

This is the first time something like this has happened to me, as I am sure its a first for many. We are history in the making.

So to keep track of my experience with this virus, I thought I would write about it.

Students are aware of a lot of information about the virus. They have researched, watched and listened to information about it. A lot of students mention to me that they didn’t understand the hysteria around it. While there were a few who voiced their anxiety about it.  Most students were excited by the idea of getting out of school, and being apart of something so… historical.  They even shared information that in every decade in the 20th year, there was some type of pandemic! The black plague, spanish flu, and now the coronavirus.

Most of my friends online have expressed concern for the elderly and the sick, however they also do not understand the hype. Why are people purchasing all of the toilet paper? We went to the grocery store and the toilet paper was all gone, as were all of the cleaning supplies!  Those were the only two things missing on the shelves.

I also want to mention that the stock market is crashing, and people are promoting using digital platforms to help eliminate spread of the virus. There could be a correlation between the idea of money spreading the virus and the use of digital platforms as a financial solution.  Though cryptocurrency is also tanking… at this moment, it is down to $5k.

So as I prepare for my last day of school tomorrow before our 2 week closure, I want to remind you, change is inevitable… so just breathe.

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Glenstone Museum

The Maryland Art Education Conference this year was split into a two day conference, with Friday being a field experience day at different museums around the area and Saturday being conference workshops!

On Friday I attended the Glenstone Museum for my field experience.  This was my first time at the museum and I was blown away. I have been to many museums from Seattle to Boston, and Glenstone is by far the most unique experience I have had a museum.

Glenstone is a private museum, owned by Emily & Mitch Rales.

We envision Glenstone not only as a place, but a state of mind created by the energy of architecture, the power of art, and the restorative qualities of nature. At the core of the museum is a collection of post-World War II art, a very personal project driven by the pursuit of iconic works that have changed the way we think about the art of our time.

Glenstone is open Thursday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. with visits scheduled on the half hour until 3:00 p.m., always free admission. They highly recommend reservations, though they do allow you in if there is space available and you have no reservation.

The museum encompasses two buildings, several outdoor sculptures and nearly 300 acres of landscape. To fully experience Glenstone, you should be prepared to spend time outside on foot. There are many beautiful trails to experience.

The artwork inside the gallery is curated in such a way that you are forced to realize you are apart of the experience just as much as the artwork.

Between buildings are many outdoor sculptures, which to me felt like little moments in time that I am put into a different reality. The way the sculptures interact with the environment and myself as a visitor, was really wonderful.

The spiral sculpture and the sound forest were such a dynamic experiences. Words are hard to find to describe the experience.

The food was delicious and locally sourced.

One of my most favorite parts of the museum was visiting the environmental center!

Their Environmental Center is a multi-use maintenance and education facility that offers experiential learning. You can learn about composting, organic landscape management, waste reduction, materials recycling and water conservation—and how to take these practices home with you.

They planted trees, understory vegetation and groundcover flora as part of their reforestation efforts. They plant only native, regionally appropriate species, which require the fewest resources to maintain and provide appropriate food and habitat for local fauna. They use local ponds as well as three new underground cisterns to manage rainfall flow throughout the property and recycle the water for landscaping purposes.

In addition to its water recycling program, Glenstone has committed to restoring the two depleted tributaries of the Potomac River located on the property. In close coordination with Montgomery County, in 2015 they implemented a plan designed to improve water quality, reduce sediment reaching the Potomac, and renew the wildlife habitat for aquatic organisms.

I am definitely planning to visit the museum again! Thank you MAEA for setting up this amazing field experience!

Raine Dawn

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Hampton Art Experience

For the past 6 years the Historic Hampton Inc. non-profit has hosted an art show for any Maryland students and teachers to submit work inspired by Hampton National Historic Park.  It was always a wonderful show, however this year we decided to work with BCPS Visual Arts office to create our first Hampton Art Experience at the historic site.  I took my 8th grade GT students!

Teachers in Baltimore County signed up to bring 20 of their students to the Hampton mansion for a full day art experience.  Students rotated between 2 of the 3 art stations which included:

  • Gardens & Light where students learned about the history of horticulture at Hampton Mansion, and about the properties of light as they created cyanotypes using natural objects located on site.
  • Understanding Architecture where students learned about the history of the architecture and engineering at Hampton Mansion, and were able to work on creating their own mansion, or recreating the Hampton Mansion in a drawing like an architect.
  • Fibers on the Farm where students learned about life on the Farm at Hampton Mansion and used fibers to create artworks that were inspired by Hampton.

My students attended the Understanding Architecture station, lead by architect Anne Boyce and Gretchen Maneval.

and Gardens & Light station, lead by Carroll Cook.

On Saturday, the student work was on display in the orangery for a reception.  Families were able to come and see their students work, as well as take a tour of the Mansion!

This was by far the best art experience and we are looking forward to hosting our second experience next year.

<3

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Natural History Society

The Natural History Society of Maryland is a private nonprofit dedicated to conserving Maryland’s natural heritage and educating its citizens on the natural sciences since 1929. We are a volunteer-run organization with a few part-time staff. We manage a small museum in Baltimore County where we offer programs, lectures, workshops, and courses on a wide variety of natural science subjects. The lower level of our building is a collections facility that houses over 200,000 natural history specimens and artifacts.

They recently hosted a Teachers Night at the museum, a free event for teachers to learn about and experience the museum in order to get inspired to collaborate with local organizations.

I talked with Natural History experts of fossils and geology, competed a museum-wide scavenger hunt and left with resources for my classroom.  All teachers that attended received a complimentary year membership to NHSM. During the visit I made a connection with the Fossil Curator of the museum who delivered an amazing set of fossils to our school! The students started using them right away.

Students used the fossils as a reference to create a new character for their parade drawings!

I am so glad I attended the event and excited about new possibilities with integrating environmental education into my art classroom.

Migwetch

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March for our Schools

On March 11th, 2019 educators and community members join together wearing red, to march for approval of the Kirwan Commission:

It brings together representatives from across the State to review the findings of the Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in Maryland, hear from national experts on world class education systems, and make recommendations for improving education in Maryland through funding, policies, and resources that will prepare Maryland students “to meet the challenges of a changing global economy, to meet the State’s workforce needs, to be prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce, and to be successful citizens in the 21st century.”

This commission was created to work towards…

“…more effective supports for flailing students; bona fide high school pathways pointing toward remediation-free college and life-sustaining careers; teachers whose preparation, compensation and career prospects will lead abler individuals to enter and remain in this honorable profession. And because of this, significantly higher academic outcomes for our students.”

There were over 8,500 teachers from Maryland came out to march for school funding.  Maryland schools are underfunded by $2.9 billion every year, about $2 million on average per school, and teachers are underpaid by 25 percent, compared to other professions.

I rode a bus from Carver Center for the Arts, in Towson, to Annapolis with other Baltimore County Public School educators. County Executive Johnny Olszewski also road the bus with us down to Annapolis. TABCO paid for and provided not only the transportation, but also boxed lunches. We also received posters, cow bells, and beanie hats! Check out the poster I made below!

 

The march was so inspiring, as we walked side by side, everyone together for one purpose…To see our children walking and cheering for a better future. They deserve better than what we’ve been settling for, and the state of the future depends on making a change.

I am proud to speak up for the hard work that teachers in Maryland do, and how our students deserve happy teachers. Teachers who do not have to work an extra job during the school year, or who have to pay for supplies from their own pockets.  It is mind blowing to me that we are shaping our future, yet there is so little importance given to making sure teachers have all the tools necessary to develop students who are creative, curious and caring citizens.

On April 1st we are organizing a demonstration at the County Executive’s office in Towson. We will present hundreds of postcards to the County Executive and ask the County Executive to find the resources needed to fund our schools, our raises and the additional staff we need so we can provide the world class education our students deserve.

Two things you can do to help:

1. Send Johnny Olszewski an email telling him what you need at your school and asking him to find the resources to fund additional needed staff and our raises.

2. Be there on April 1st (No Fooling!) at the Historic Courthouse in Towson from 5:30 to 7:00pm. Click here to RSVP. Bring your red shirt!

Thanks for the support!

<3

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Full STEAM Ahead

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I recently attended the Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education annual conference in Towson Maryland. This was my first MAEOE conference, and I’m excited to bring more teachers next year!

The conference theme was Full Steam Ahead, Expanding the Potential of Environmental Education.  It was wonderful to see so much integration between the arts and sciences.

I attended a painting workshop, where we talked about how to create art as an expression of ourselves, while learning techniques to be successful in the aesthetics of the artwork.

The Watershed Charter school executive director Jessie Lehson presented Growing Art through Farming, the intersection of art and agriculture. We learned to make pastels from rocks, and cut turkey feathers into quill pens.

There was an amazing presentation called When Wonder Wins, discussing how important it is to intentionally incorporate wonder into our lives.  In doing so, we are role models for our students so that they too will use the world around them to be inspired to keep growing and following their passions.

I really enjoyed the Earth Powers and Forest bathing lightening session.  Two sessions in one hour, where we discussed allowing kids to explore nature and tap in with their creative mind. We also discussed how to take moments our of our day to spend time in nature mindfully noticing our reactions and responses to outside stimuli.

Restorative Practices was by far the best session I attended, and all of the session I went to were amazing.  Dave Dahl,  from NorthBay Adventure Camp, spoke about using restorative practices and teaching out children using the M.A.E.C.E. method. Mindfulness, Awareness, Empathy, Compassion, and Engage. We participated in hands on team building activities to build relationships with one another in our 2 hour session. We discussed the self determination theory, Carl Rogers, and Dr. Dan Siegel who wrote The Whole-Brain Child.

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This conference was a wonderful learning experience and I am excited about next year!

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Plein Air Painting

For the first three days of summer break, I participated in a Baltimore County Public Schools Art Educator workshop at the Hampton National Historic Site.

The first workshop was “Painting with Pastels. We got an overview of some of the history of the site prior to choosing where and what to create and were able to roam where we pleased to create art inspired by the park.

We gathered together around 2pm to discuss all of the work we’ve created! The workshop was scheduled to be over at 3 but we didn’t even finish our talk until 3:40! Art teachers really like to discuss each others work.

 

The next workshop was Plein Air Painting for 2 days! The weather was gorgeous and I surely got some vitamin D. I love being able to create art inspired by a place I am drawn to. The Hampton National Historic Site is one of those places. Baltimore County Teachers have come to Hampton for the past 4 years to practice our skills using our very own National Park.  Most teachers use this workshop to create their own art for the Student/Teacher Art Exhibit the Hampton Historic Inc. facilitates in April. Teachers also take their inspiration back to their classroom and teach their students about Hampton while creating art that is inspired by the site.

Last year there were over 100 submissions into the 4th Annual Student/Teacher Art Exhibit. This is a perfect opportunity for teachers and students to be recognized for their amazing work.

This year I decided to do an intuitive painting for the plein air workshop. I used tools, and my color combination layer to create an emotionally fill painting.

When I first started painting I was drawn to the Bee Balm flowers, so I started with them in mind. After making my first two layers of colors I noticed a mark that looked like a woman! I knew I had to keep her, as I felt like maybe she was Eliza Ridgely or her daughter.

 

Eliza Ridgely was an avid gardener, and in the 1830s and 1840s she improved the gardens and enhanced the landscape at Hampton, planting exotic trees such as the Lebanon Cedar which still stands on the house’s south lawn. She is said to have brought this herself as a seedling from Europe, carrying it in a shoebox. She did a lot for her slaves, was which was unheard of in her time. She took care to make sure they were clothed, fed, given gifts during Christmas, church services on Sunday and even marriages between the slaves, not caring that slaves weren’t able to actually be apart of a civil act.

Eliza’s daughter, Eliza, did not want to be the lady of the house and take over the duties her mother had so willingly adopted. Her daughter wanted to be friends with the slaves, and to be free to be a normal girl. She felt trapped in the life she was born into.

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While I was painting I kept hearing, “everyone has a story.” A lot of times the major story focused on at the mansion is the story of the enslaved people at Hampton. I appreciate the awareness and knowledge I gain from the park rangers about the life of the enslaved. I know their story is vital to the Ridgely family history… without their slaves, life for the Ridgely’s wouldn’t have been the same. But it is also important to see that within every experience, there are multiple perspectives, there are multiple stories to be told.

The Ojibwe teach that not one road is higher than the next…that each road shines light on the others. Each of our perspectives, each of our stories are valuable and vital to the totality of our life experiences.

I am grateful to be able to learn multiple perspectives about the history of the Hampton National Historic Site, from life as an enslaved person to the life of the family. I am able to learn about plants, flowers and landscaping along with art and culture in the 1800’s. There is still much to uncover and learn about Hampton and I look forward to how the history at this location resonates with experiences I have in my life.

<3 Migwetch
Raine Dawn

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Beating Expectations 

This past Friday, I held our monthly drum circle at Firefly Hollow Wellness Center in York, Pa.  Drum circles are the last Friday of every month, and I have been leading them for about 8 months.

Over the past few months the drum circle has developed its own style and pace. We have regulars who attend almost every month, and we keep adding more people!

This past month a group of about 15 students, from the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County Maryland, joined our circle.

I have to be honest… I was little anxious about 15 students joining our ever growing group of 10-20 people. Firefly Hollow has a beautiful large room where we hold our circles, however I was just a little unsure if it would be too tight.

On top of feeling anxious about the amount of people attending, I started to wonder how 15 middle and high school students would do, in terms of beat and rhythm of the instruments.  This drum circle is definitely not geared towards advanced drummers only… we have a lot of new people who come and want to join in the music making because it fills their heart. That is why I lead… because when we create whether art or music, vibrating energy into the universe, and when we put positive intentions into those creations, we send out the love.

So as always I reflected on the evening, and how the event unfolded. Wow, the universe really showed me beautiful things happen when we are willing to surrender and let go. When I let go of my expectations for the drum circle, the anxiety lessened. When I opened my heart to the moment, a whole new experience unfolded… one that had never crossed my mind.

I was anxious because I thought I would have to teach these boys and girls … changing the tempo of our circle from making music to “follow these steps”. But what really happened was that these beautiful souls were brought to the circle to teach us a lesson… on how to let go and surrender to the moment.

When we let go, they all let go. It was so beautiful to watch unfold. One of our regular drum-and-dancers decided to get all the girls together to teach them a few ceremonial dance moves that went to the beat of our drumming. Every girl that came was up learning and doing these moves. My heart was full… of love and light… watching everyone from different walks of life, come together in song and dance.

That drum circle I learned to let go of expectations when they are causing fear, let go of worry… doubting things will turn out a certain way, and be open to whatever the universe presents for us, with gratitude and love.

Thank you Angie for bringing your beautiful students to join our circle. I hope to drum with them again in the near future. Thank you everyone who attended our May drum circle… you all made it a magickal experience for me and touched the lives of those boys and girls.

Angie told me that they were so excited afterwards they talked about the circle the whole bus ride home! One girls mother asked her if she was sick because the girl went straight home and went to bed. She told her mother she was just exhausted because of all the fun she had during the drum circle. It was truly an experience I will remember.

Migwetch<3
Raine Dawn