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Eastern art teacher to enjoy summer learning opportunityPosted Friday, April 24, 2009, at 5:55 PM
A veteran Eastern Greene High School art teacher will have a unique learning opportunity for a week this summer.
Mike Caldwell, who's been teaching art at the Greene County school for the last 29 years, is going back to school.
He will be going back to class June 21-26 at the prestigious Chicago Art Institute as part of its Teacher Institute of Contemporary Art fellowship program.
Caldwell was one of 75 art instructor that was selected from a field of more than 1,000 individuals that applied for the summer study program in downtown Chicago.
The Teacher Institute in Contemporary Art (TICA) provides a chance for art educators to return to their roots in art, study in a supportive and challenging environment with their peers, and experience/investigate the latest trends in contemporary art.
The fellowship, which pays all expenses other than travel costs to Chicago, is funded by the Getty Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.
To be accepted, Caldwell had to submit and essay telling organizers about his desire to attend and what he hoped to learn from the program.
The selectors liked what the heard.
The teacher program provides a forum for the professional teacher/art educators to discuss and experience trends in contemporary art and teaching practices
Caldwell's reason for wanting to participate was pretty simple.
He hopes to learn teaching methods and techniques he can learn to bring back to his own classroom here in Greene County.
Needless to say, Caldwell is thrilled with the opportunity that he has been afforded in the classroom setting at the Chicago Art Institute that features one of the best collections of antiquities and houses priceless examples tracing the history of art in the world.
"We're going to be talking about art and making art and learning about some methodologies that we can take back to our classrooms. Its going to be real exciting," he said.
For the Washington, IN, native teaching art at Eastern Greene is the only job he's had since he graduated from Indiana University in 1980. For the last 15 years, he's been a high school art teacher.
Caldwell said he's applied for a few other grant programs in the past, but this is a big one.
He learned about the program on a website and after reading many positive comments from past participating teachers, he decided to give it a shot and applied.
The Institute acts as a "think tank," where participants discuss new curricula that extend from and expand upon the ideas presented at the Institute. This will develop a network of artists and teachers that can act as a support/ resource network for each member.
"I'm so proud of this," he beamed.
The program has three parts. The first and most important is a week in the studios of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, under the direction of an accomplished artist-instructor.
The project is hand-on and will have the educators doing actual works of art.
A live model poses while TICA participants work on canvas with oils, and sketch in between projects.
The second part is the visiting artist program. Visiting contemporary aratists, including such renowned and respected figures as Paul Pfeiffer and Fred Wilson, Pepon Osorio and Sam Durant, Barry McGee and Tim Rollins filter in throughout the week. These artists are brought in just for the teachers, to challenge their thinking, to expand their creative thought processes with presentations of their work.
The third part of TICA comprises visits to the galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago.
During these visits, the teachers will be looking at masterpieces in the galleries together with the Metropolitan Museum of Art museum educator, Rika Burnham. The study of great and original works of art asks the teachers to return to their own experience and discovery providing a way for them to rethink the foundations of art in order to move forward.
Original works of art are at the creative core: making, discussing, studying.
Each weekly session is divided into two main parts per day: Studio practice and visiting artist/critic presentations. Evening workshops and seminars are offered in museum education.
TICA was founded in 2000 by Phil Baranowski, a former art teacher. Out of the conviction that the arts could be supported by a return to the teacher's creative core came his dream that he himself could contribute, and make a difference.
Caldwell, who also coaches girls track at Eastern, is thrilled that his school has continued to support and fund art programs.
Some schools -- even some in our area -- have opted away from art as budgets got tight.
"We've always funded art here (at Eastern) and have since its inception," he said.
As part of the program, when Caldwell gets back home he will present some time in the future a public demonstration of what he's learned and display some of his works.
The veteran teacher is as excited as a first grade student on the opening day of school with the opportunity that he has been presented in the fellowship program.
The future students at Eastern will benefit from Caldwell's studies this summer.
"I'm just kind of walking on air. It's fantastic," he said.
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