Art Workshops for Elders

posted on: Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elders Share the Arts and Erie Arts & Culture Workshop Details:

Ed Grout will partner with Debby Kraus at the Mercy Hilltop Center.
Theme/Title: Exploring Imagery - A Collaborative Toward a Public Art Piece

Dates: April 20 & 21, April 27 & 28, and May 4
Time: 10 am until 12 pm
Place: Mercy Hilltop Center, 444 E. Grandview Blvd.  Erie, PA  16504
Contact the Mercy Hilltop Center to sign up for their workshop: 814-824-2214

Tom Ferraro will partner with Marie Heberlein at LifeWorks Erie
Theme/Title: The Colors of Caring, what’s in your paint box?

Dates: Starts on Monday, April 20th. Sessions will run each Monday for 5 weeks.
Time: 2 pm until 4 pm
Place: LifeWorks Erie, 406 Peach Street Erie, PA 16507
Contact LifeWorks to sign up for their workshop: (814) 453-50712, or email


Community Fiber Art Residency

posted on: Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deborah Sementelli, Fiber Artist & Teaching Artist with Erie Arts & Culture will be in residence at Edinboro University with Professor Lisa Austin and her Sculpture 1 students. During the residency Ms. Sementelli will offer 3 community workshops for individual who want to gain the basic skills and understand the tools necessary to work with fibers to create sculptural volumes/forms as art.
The Saturday workshops will take place in Loveland Hall, room 10, at Edinboro University. The workshops are open to the public. Persons need only register for one session each Saturday to learn the techniques but are welcome to stay the entire day to work on their project.

As an added bonus any work created during the residency and community sessions will be reviewed and considered for the culminating exhibit at the StArtUp Incubator in Edinboro PA in April, 2015.  
The workshop fee is $40 per session and include materials, Erie Arts & Culture members $35 per session, registration for all 3 sessions is $100, Erie Arts & Culture members $95 for all 3 sessions, Edinboro University students are free with university ID. Contact to register.

Check-in will be in Loveland Hall, 2nd floor, outside of room 10 and will open at 12:30 pm each day of the workshop.

Saturday, March 14th, Hand Sewing Volumes

Session A
1 pm to 3 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Session B
3 pm to 5 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Saturday, March 21st, Crocheting Volumes

Session A
1 pm to 3 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Session B
3 pm to 5 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Saturday, March 28th, Knitting Volumes

Session A
1 pm to 3 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Session B
3 pm to 5 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Advocacy Update

posted on: Wednesday, October 01, 2014

PA Reports

How does Pennsylvania compare to other states in the US on issues of arts, culture and education? Recent reports from Americans for the Arts and Arts Education Partnership shed light on where Pennsylvania policy and legislators stand on support for the arts.

The Congressional Arts Report Card reports that US Senators for PA received a B grade for supporting the arts in our state. The US members of Congress from PA were graded with a number of A's, however two were given F's.

None of these seats are up for reelection this fall, but stay tuned for the results of a survey of current politicians on the ballot's position on supporting the arts and culture.

A Snapshot of State Policies for Arts Education shows that Pennsylvania has adopted 7 out of 13 measures for arts in education.

Click the bold links above to review both reports and see what criteria the states and legislators were measured on and how Pennsylvania compares to other states.

Arts and Culture Caucus

A bipartisan, bicameral Arts and Culture Caucus has been created in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  This Caucus was suggested in AEI’s March 2012 policy report and has been actively supported by leadership at the  Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania.  The purpose of the Caucus is to provide research, education, policy development, and draft and pass legislation that advances the arts and culture in the Commonwealth, as well as support the arts throughout the budget process.

The stated purpose of the Caucus is:
-To provide access to caucus members on the latest research, education, and policy developments on arts and culture;
-To support caucus members in their efforts to draft and pass legislation that advances arts and culture in the Commonwealth;
-To provide analysis on pending legislation;
-To provide caucus members and their staffs with periodic briefings on pertinent issues;
-To develop issue specific talking points and press materials for caucus members to use in public and with the media.

NW Pennsylvania Members
Hon. Ryan A. Bizzarro
Hon. Jaret Gibbons
Hon. Patrick J. Harkins
Hon. R. Lee James
Hon. Mark Longietti
Hon. Curtis G. Sonney
Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson
Sen. Sean Wiley

US Members from PA Congress
Robert Brady
Charles Dent
Mike Doyle
Mike Fitzpatrick
Jim Gerlach
Tim Murphy
Allyson Schwartz
Glenn Thompson

Local Artists and Educators Awarded Best Presentation at National Conference

posted on: Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Barber National Institute team that presented at the 2014 VSA Intersections conference in July was awarded first place for the best of the conference. The conference participants had the opportunity to vote for their favorite sessions.  The three presentations with the highest number of overall votes presented again on Friday of that week for anyone who missed their first session. 

The BNI team was represented by Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey, Executive Vice President of the Barber National institute; Jude Shingle, Teaching Artist with Erie Arts & Culture; Judy Stewart, Critical skills specialist at the Barber national institute and Ann Ellison Behavior Support Coordinator at the Barber National Institute.

Their session was titled ‘Digital Art at the Intersection of Arts and Special Education’ and during their presentation and hands-on workshop they shared the development of their Long-Term Residency, was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, with Teaching Artist Jude Shingle and the digital arts project for students with disabilities. Included in their session was a hands-on lesson using iBook and Comic Life on the iPad and discussion of future applications of digital media. The VSA conference is an international conference held in July in Alexandria Virginia.

They also told me that the win allows them to attend next year’s conference for free!  And they have been asked by The Kennedy Center to present a Webinar on December 16th.

Barber National Institute to Host Professional Development Workshop

posted on: Thursday, April 10, 2014

Erie Arts & Culture will partner with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, VSA Pennsylvania, the Barber National Institute and the Kennedy Center, to offer a professional development workshop. "Teaching the Arts to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder" will offer practical teaching strategies for students on the autism spectrum.


The workshops will be held on: 
  • Monday, April 21, 2014

Click here to view a list of other VSA Workshops occurring in Pennsylvania.

The workshop will be a full day from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm (Registration opens at 8:00 am) and include the following topics:

  • An overview of characteristics of Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and other pervasive Developmental Disabilities;
  • Strategies for using Universal Design for Learning to allow greater access to the curriculum for children with ASD;
  • Strategies for behavior management;
  • Hands on arts infused lesson plans; and
  • Best practices in assessment.

The workshop implements standards-based professional development training for educators and/or teaching artists to improve skills in teaching the arts to students with ASD pre-K through grade 12. Six Act 48 credits are available.

Workshop instructors include Judy Stewart, Critical Skills Specialist at the Barber National Institute, Anne Ellison, Behavior Analyst at the Barber National Institute and Tom Ferraro, professional fine artist and teaching artist. Techniques include lecture, discussion, collaborative group activities and art exercises.

The workshop is open to arts educators, teaching artists, administrators and special education professionals. Parents and other advocates are welcome to attend. A fee of $35 covers the cost of breakfast and lunch for participants. Six Act 48 credits are available. Registration deadline April 14th. Click here to register.

ArtsErie Artists in Residence with Kids as Curators

posted on: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Article by Lindsey Poisson,
Originally posted on

It's the kind of art that takes grown-ups by surprise.

But give it a second. Soon, the rainbow of stuffed animals, a ziggurat built from cardboard and cathedrals made of Lego pieces, jewelry and other materials on display for the 10th annual Kids as Curators exhibit will start to make a lot of sense.

"It's like walking through the brain of a 13-year-old," said Kelly Armor, director of education and folk art at the Erie Art Museum. "It's a great exhibit for the community and for families."

The projects will be on display starting Saturday at the Erie Art Museum, 20 E. Fifth St., and will continue through March 23. Three schools are selected each year to create the exhibit, which incorporates kids' collections into interactive displays with different themes. For this year's project, students visited the Art Museum to learn about exhibits, then teamed up with local artists to plan and build their projects.

Students at St. George School were inspired by angles and constructed cathedrals. Sixth-graders at West End Elementary School in Meadville used stuffed animals to make a rainbow.

At Emerson-Gridley Elementary School, about 75 sixth-graders built a replica of an ancient Mesopotamian temple known as a ziggurat. Coming up with such a unique idea was the easy part -- thinking the project through, from start to finish, was the most challenging learning experience for students, said Deborah Sementelli, Emerson-Gridley's artist-in-residence during the project.

"What are you going to do? How are you going to put it together? You have to think about this," she said. "So we did some planning, and they did the work."

The students collected recyclable and used materials -- including paper-towel tubes, empty cereal boxes and film from old VHS tapes -- and spent about two months researching, measuring and constructing their project.

"We all just got our minds together and built it together," said sixth-grader Joshua Hall, 11. "I just liked having fun and learning new things about building and being an artist."

Hopefully, art lovers will enjoy seeing the ziggurat on display at the museum, too.

"I hope they want to do more research about it and see what is it, what does it stand for, what happened there," said sixth-grader Ajaray Ellis, 11. "Maybe they'll do more social studies."

Kids love stuff, Armor said. And the idea behind the Kids as Curators exhibit is to show students how art museums are just huge collections of interesting stuff.

"If you can make a connection between those two things, then kids get excited about the museum in a way they might not have felt before," she said. For the past decade, the exhibit has done just that. When young museum patrons see the exhibit, they instantly light up, Armor said.

"It's like watching a bunch of art-history grad students at the Louvre," she said. "They immediately connect with it."

LINDSEY POISSON can be reached at 870-1871 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at

The Value of Creativity in Education

posted on: Friday, October 18, 2013

The following excerpts are reposted from:

"The Creativity Imperative" by Jessica Roake for Education UpdateOctober 2013

Success in the modern world demands innovation, complex problem solving, and new ways of understanding: it requires creativity. Leaders in nearly every profession list creativity as the most valuable asset in their field, but also complain about the lack of creativity in America's young workforce. In response, states including California and Massachusetts have developed creativity and innovation education indexes to measure how schools are fostering creativity, and the education community has contributed innovative pedagogy on the importance of creativity.

Misunderstood Potential 

"Creative" is often the adjective that teachers assign to students who seem daydreamy, distracted, or disruptive: traditionally negative attributes in the classroom. Yet, studies consistently show that daydreamers score higher on tests of creativity and distracted students are seven times more likely to be "eminent creative achievers," according to researchers Shelley Carson, Jordan Peterson, and Kathleen Smith.

Even when "creative" is not used as a negative signifier by teachers, it remains a challenging concept. According to Susan Brookhart, author of How to Assess Higher Order Thinking Skills in Your Classroom, "Many teachers want their students to be creative but are not entirely sure what to look for. Too often, creativity ends up meaning the report cover was nicely colored or something like that."

So What Is Creativity?

One of the trickiest aspects of successfully integrating creativity into one's teaching is defining it in practical terms. Thomas Crowley, who teaches at San Diego's Francis Parker School, says, "Creativity is a process of problem solving that leads to the aesthetic. Creative thinking is the ability to innovate pre-existing ideas and understandings in a novel, sometimes inventive, way."

Anthony Cody, a longtime Oakland, Calif., science teacher and consultant, adds, "Creative thinking is when, rather than simply following directions, we think for ourselves and come up with new ways  to look at problems. It means we are bringing our personal insights and experiences to bear, and actively investigating, rather than just following predetermined steps. It means using ideas or metaphors from other disciplines and thinking about things in new ways."

Although a surprising number of teachers believe that creativity is innate, "the good news," Ashley Merryman, coauthor of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, notes, "is that creativity is a skill that can be taught."

Encouraging Creativity in the Classroom

There are innumerable ways to create new and vibrant understandings for students through creative activities and approaches to subject matter. Among them:

  • Brainstorming in any subject: The purpose of brainstorming is to generate ideas. Not judge them.
  • Changing the environment: Setting up space for exploration in the classroom - whether through manipulatives centers, discussion corners, drama stages, or art tables - promotes creativity and revives tired minds.
  • Exposing students to new cultures: This not only broadens students' perspectives, but it also shows them that there is more than one way to approach a situation and find solutions.
  • Thinking Visually: Organizing, interpreting, and synthesizing knowledge visually helps students see connections and process ideas in new ways.
  • Encouraging creative synthesis in project-based learning: As an example, after Crowley teaches his students about 20th century warfare and shares examples of artistic responses to war, he asks them to produce an art piece, in any medium, that addresses one of the major themes of modern war. In addition to demonstrating their critical understanding of historical conflicts, the project requires the students to explore their own perspective (students can memorialize, glorify, or criticize warfare) creatively. Projects are accompanied by artistic statements that explain their intent and process, and the students view and critique one another's work in a culminating gallery event.
  • Using technology: There are many apps (photo editing, sketching, painting, etc.) that encourage the kind of divergent thinking skills that creative learners need to assemble information differently.
  • Drawing connections: Free yourself from rigid subject-matter borders and encourage students to forge unexpected connections. Shawn Cornally, instructor at Solon High School and the Big Ideas School in Iowa, describes this in action. "It's like a student who thinks to use a mathematical n-gram statistic to compare works of Shakespeare for uses of a specific kind of irony."

    For anyone looking to bring more than a dash of creativity into their classrooms or if parents are interested in learning about in-depth professional and educational artistic experiences for their children, ArtsErie offers artist in residence services for schools and community organizations.

    Take a look at some of the work the artists and teachers at Union City Elementary are doing with this semester's residency:

Investing in Early Childhood Education

posted on: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On July 29th, 2013 the Economic Research Institute of Erie at Behrend College held its 11th annual conference. This year’s theme was the economic impact of early childhood education. The work of Dr. Timothy Bartik of the Upjohn Institute sparked the inspiration to raise dialog on this issue in Erie.
Research shows the value of early childhood (birth to age 5) education. Those with the opportunity to begin education before preschool usually have better test scores, attendance rates, more soft (social skills), and attain higher levels of education leading to higher wages earned during their lifetime. Beyond the benefit to the individual, the truly provocative points made at the conference were the real economic value and long term benefits to the community at large.

Investing in early childhood education has incredible benefits for kids and their futures, but it is also 
early prevention for social and behavioral problems, reduces welfare costs and crime and increases the number of citizens with excellent job and interpersonal skills who work well with others.

Some successful programs that offer opportunities for early education are PNC’s Grow Up Great, Young at Art Museum and Keystone Stars. ArtsErie’s arts in education program partners with South Hills Child Development Center and teaching artist Siobhan Walsh to infuse dance and movement into early childhood learning for a creative way to teach culture and language.

The arts are particularly important in early childhood education in their potential for engagement and how they transcend language and communication barriers. A major component of a quality early childhood education program is play, stated Nancy Kalista of Early Connections during  the conference’s panel discussion. And what is art if not play? Creative and experimental opportunities provided during arts experiences are essential in the development of soft and fine motor skills of young children.

For more information, check out Dr. Bartik’s research and the PA Early Learning Investment Commission.

Technology and Arts Infused Education

posted on: Thursday, July 18, 2013

ArtsErie's Arts in Education Learning Lab session will highlight technology infusion in arts residencies

Many children navigate effortlessly between the worlds of digital technology, the arts and other areas of learning. In the Arts in Education Program, we have been considering how technology-mediated residencies unlock opportunities for multisensory communication and expression in conjunction with areas such as dramatization, debate, movement, dialogue, video and storytelling. How do we encourage children and develop sophisticated pathways and approaches to learning with technology? One way is to develop equally sophisticated teaching strategies grounded in effective practices in educational technology. 

The “TPACK” (or Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) framework created by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler, is an approach to integrating technology into learning experiences. As a tool, it helps us to consider the expert knowledge that is needed in considering the intersection between technology, pedagogy and content. When these three areas are considered together, technology integration strategies become more aligned with how teachers and teaching artists plan educational experiences, rather than simply designing instruction around the use of randomly chosen technology tools.

How can learning activities be developed that appropriately incorporate technologies, while also addressing educational goals? Also, how can teachers and teaching artists choose among the many educational technologies available, such as arts-related software, Web 2.0 tools, and mobile apps? These questions will be addressed Monday, August 12 at the 3rd annual Arts in Education Learning Lab as Jude Shingle and I will present, “Exploring Technology Infusion in Oompa-Loompa Land: Developing Technological, Pedagogical and Arts-Infused Content Knowledge.” During this session we will address the role of technology in arts-infused residencies as we guide participants through the TPACK framework and how to use the TPACK activity types when considering technology-infused learning.

Register for the Learning Lab today!

Camille Dempsey is the Technology and Visual Arts Specialist in the Art in Action Project. As a Staff Development Consultant, she works with various school districts, non-profits and in small business. Prior to her current work, she served as the Art Education Program Director and an Assistant Professor of Art at Mercyhurst University. Camille has also worked as a K-12 art educator in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York City.

She is also a doctoral candidate in Instructional Technology at Duquesne University. Her dissertation explores the concept of “virtuality culture” as a theoretical expansion of  Walter Ong’s work in the areas of orality and literacy culture. Her educational background also includes study at Teachers College Columbia University (MA in Art & Art Education), University of Pennsylvania & Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts (BFA) and Edinboro University (School Leadership studies). 

Arts in Education Learning Lab Conference

posted on: Monday, July 08, 2013

Hands on dance/movement workshop for the reading classroom at the 2012 Learning Lab

The 3rd Annual Learning Lab for arts in education will be August 11-13th, 2013 at Allegheny College. This year’s three day conference will be on the theme of Sustaining Arts Infusion. We proudly welcome keynote speakers R. Scot Hockman from South Carolina’s Department of Education and Christine Fisher from the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project. They will address why arts infused education is important, how we get there and what whole school infusion looks like. Click here for the schedule of events.

The Learning Lab is a three-day conference dedicated to exploring, discussing and supporting the use of arts in education. Funded by a Department of Education Model of Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant, ArtsErie's Art in Action program has implemented a methodology of arts in education which infuses common core curriculum and state education standards with the arts. Through this more engaging and experiential teaching strategy, the focus has been on planning, process, documentation, evaluation and whole school buy-in. The Learning Lab is a professional development opportunity for teachers, administrators and teaching artists. Click here to register.

Dr. Rosemary Omniewski leading a workshop at the 2012 Learning Lab

Dr. Jan Hyatt Leading a workshop at the 2012 Learning Lab

This year’s Learning Lab is offering a one-credit graduate course “Sustaining the Arts Infused Classroom” available through IU5. Taught by Dr. Rosemary Omniewski, Edinboro University and Dr. Janyce Hyatt, Allegheny College, the course is free to Art in Action teachers and artists who have teaching certification. Anyone else who is interested is welcome to audit the course at no fee. Ten hours of outside reading and 2.5 hours of discussion prior to the Learning Lab will be required for those who wish to take the course. At the end of the Learning Lab, those who are taking the class for credit will have a 1.5 hour sharing and reflecting session. All remaining course content will be satisfied by attending the Learning Lab. Course text books will be available through the Allegheny College bookstore.

Check out this video for highlights from last year's Learning Lab.
Register today for this year's Learning Lab!