Being Online, Honestly

I hate posts by bloggers apologizing for not blogging. What could be more boring. My friend Amy always told me not to apologize (so much).

I just find it kind of ironic that while I’m teaching a course this term that requires LOTS of social media work, I haven’t been posting much here. Over the past two-plus years, blogging has become my medium of choice for what might, surprisingly, be seen as long-form writing by Internet standards. Nowhere approaching the academic guidelines I was trained to follow, my musings are generally around 500-800 words. While they might not be developed enough for a peer-reviewed journal, neither are they fit for the 140 character tweet. But tweeting is just what I’ve been doing. And pinning, and scooping, and hashtagging all over the Interwebs. Along with my students. They are the reason I’m giving it all so much of my time.

Art educators have more ways than ever to connect with one another (all the world around), with the families of the children we work with everyday, and the communities we serve. We haven’t had this much public exposure for our work since. . . probably ever. We have the tools for our own ever more important advocacy literally at our fingertips. And inherent in those tools are reasons why art education is important.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, why isn’t every art teacher on Instagram? A blog for every artroom ought to be our goal for 2020.

The truth is, there are lot of busy teachers working “in the trenches” who don’t know enough about Web2.0 to see how it can serve them. And they don’t have time to find out either. Some fear the risks they might expose themselves to  by being online, connecting with their students. They haven’t had a chance to consider how they might leverage these tools to engage their students. How being online with other art educators might invigorate their practice and inspire new content and methods for instruction in their studios-in-the schools.

So I’m happy to have this time with them, to be exploring some sites lots of folks take for granted. As we navigate and explore, we are sharing our observations about what’s working, what could work better, how we ought to be and with whom we ought to connect in this place or that. It’s sort of simple stuff, but stuff that takes time to sort out and could have important ramifications for their work, and our work as a profession, moving forward.

With that, I leave you with a question. How are you using social media to share your teaching, and your students’ work, with the world? Where do you find the best opportunities for exchange with colleagues? And how do you use the Internet to stay fresh?

With Animated Wishes

A few weeks ago I wrote about my neighbor June and her fascination with The Art of Frozen.  Then, a few days later I received this email:


The message came as validation that all this blogging has been worthwhile. I immediately Googled Charles Solomon. Man does this guy have a resume. Imagining him in his office looking at and thinking about June’s drawings brought me to tears.

It took about a week for the bookplate to arrive and while I’m usually terrible about keeping secrets, I kept this one. Sort of. I posted about it on Facebook, but June’s parents aren’t active there so I knew they wouldn’t see it. Once the plate arrived in the mail, I told June’s mom I had a surprise to share. Today I took Cora over for a playdate with June’s little sister with the bookplate in hand.

June was in bed recovering from her first sleepover at a friend’s house so I showed it to her mom. She was as amazed as I was by the story of a publicist finding my blog and sharing it with the author. She suggested that Mr. Solomon was probably like June when he was a kid – obsessed with the art of the animated films he saw – and her work may have reminded him of his younger self. I like that idea.

When I got back to pick up Cora, June was awake and showed me her copy of The Art of Frozen with the bookplate stuck to the inside cover. I hope she has that book for a long, long time and that she never forgets the special message it holds for her.

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Dispatch from NAEA

Sitting in a session on the graphic novel as a form for presenting scholarship. Wondering what parallels or developments can be drawn from this example to blogging as scholarship.


Bob Sweeny talking about his article “What to do about chainsaw massacres” in Visual Arts Research.

Globalization, Art Education, and the Internet

Last spring, I taught a section of a course called Globalization, Art, and Education.  The course, conceived by my colleague Elizabeth Manley Delacruz who co-edited an anthology with the same title, provides opportunities for students to explore “the nature of creative cultural expressions (aka “art”) in diverse global contexts; the dramatic impact of transcultural and transglobal interaction on local peoples and communities; and how all of this impacts personal, cultural, professional, and public policies, practices, and institutions.”  I realize this is a mouthful, and students were required to read and digest some heady articles on the subject.  But, in addition, we also played around with a lot of online avenues for engaging the global community of artists, educators, and learners.

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Screenshot of the “View by country” statistics for Outside the Lines.

This week I had an experience that brought some of the objectives of that digital play into focus for me.  When I first read about the Live Action Toy Story project, I knew it was something I wanted to write about here.  It fit nicely with so many things I want this blog to address.  I wanted to write about it as soon as possible so I could ride the trending wave the project was generating and see how far it would take me.  As a result, my post wasn’t very long and it wasn’t thoroughly cited but it was, as of this evening, viewed 754 times by readers from 63 countries.  Amazing.  I never thought my ideas could have that kind of reach.

I’m sharing this experience with my students in the hopes that it might inspire more of them to put their ideas out into the world and see where they land.