Four Paths to the Arts -- for Children with Learning Difficulties

Recently, Lillian Brooks, founder of learningdisabilities.info reached out to me with a request: if she could write an article that outlined the benefits of arts education, especially for students with learning challenges, and have this article featured on my website.  Being an educator in the visual arts field, I have seen firsthand how this issue is critically important in today's educational systems.

For more information and/or to see how you can offer your support, please visit Lillian's website: learningdisabilities.info or send her an email.

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A study published in the journal Science found that around 10% of the population is affected by a learning disability of some kind. That amounts to 2 or 3 children in each classroom. These children sometimes struggle with the standard classroom model, usually with reading and language, but the arts may offer a solution. Through the arts, children with learning disabilities are able to learn and convey ideas that they might otherwise struggle to do. Here are four ways you can help get your child involved with the arts.

 

Painting and Drawing

Through painting or drawing, children with learning disabilities can express things visually that they may struggle to convey verbally. As PBS Parents explains, this can act as a release valve, a way of getting out their day-to-day frustrations. It can also enable children to deepen their understanding of concepts that they struggle process with language. For example, they could make paintings to show what different words mean to them, which can help develop their language comprehension. A great way to get children started in drawing is to set aside a hobby room, where they are free to create and play without worrying about creating a mess.

 

Sculpture

Some children are more practical, and prefer to learn by physically interacting with the world around them. Sculpture is perfect for this. Of course, you don’t give your child a block of marble and a chisel, and tell them to have at it. You can start out by teaching them clay modeling, paper mache, or crafts. As well as giving them a new way to express themselves, sculpture can help children learn, for example your child may become more familiar with the alphabet by making clay letters. Again, a hobby room is ideal, so your children can play freely, and you don’t have to worry about your carpet being damaged.

 

Music

What do Joss Stone, Ozzy Osbourne and The Police drummer Stewart Copeland have in common? They are all successful musicians with dyslexia. Music can be a great way into the arts for children who aren’t visually-oriented, and there is some evidence that musical training can improve reading and other cognitive skills.

However, learning a musical instrument can be challenging, and requires a degree of initial motivation. To make it easier, think about what instrument would be best for your child -- base this on the music they like, and the amount of motor control that each instrument requires. If they’re interested in giving it a go, start with a trial run -- take them to a few classes and see how it works out.

 

Dance

If your child is high-energy and has trouble sitting still, dance might be a suitable art for them to get involved in. Dance enables your child to burn off excess energy, while at the same time develop their creative abilities and coordination. Sometimes the problems children with learning difficulties have are compounded by stress and frustration. The physical nature of dance, and the social connections that dance classes encourage, can be an effective stress-reducer. Another option is taking dance therapy classes, in which children are encouraged to demonstrate their emotions and spontaneity. This is a great counter to technical skill, which might be preferable to some children, as opposed to the structured nature of a skill-based class.

The arts are more than just a way to keep children busy for a while -- they can have real and long-lasting benefits. Art can help children communicate, build their confidence, and help them learn concepts that they struggle to grasp through normal classroom methods. Now it’s time to experiment -- ask your child what they might enjoy trying, and give it a trial run. At the very least, you’ll give them a new experience, and you might open up a world of benefits for them.

Photo credit: Pexels

Art 7 Gallery: Small Works Show

Art 7 Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas is currently exhibiting its annual Small Works Show from March 3rd - April 3rd. 2018.  The curator this year is art and design professional, as well as Art 7 Gallery manager, Karen Fulton.  For more information on Art 7 Gallery: Small Works Show, please visit this website.

I am excited that my work is part of this year's exhibition:

  Coulee , 2018, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches.

Coulee, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches.

  Aftermath , 2012, acrylic on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches.

Aftermath, 2012, acrylic on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches.

Parentheses International Literary Arts Journal, Issue #3

The most recent issue of Parentheses International Literary Arts Journal has been published, both digitally and in print.  While I was at the Vermont Studio Center in December 2017, I wrote a poem titled "Ages" which traces family generations.  I am fortunate that this poem is featured in the current issue of Parentheses.

For more information on Parentheses International Literary Arts Journal, a publication that features poetry, fiction, art and photography, please visit the website.

To read and/or purchase a copy of issue #3 or past issues, please visit this page.

I offer my sincere gratitude to the editors of Parentheses Harshal Desai and Sneha Subramanian Kanta. 

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Upcoming Publication: Parentheses Journal, Spring 2018

Not quite two years ago, I began an accident journey into poetry.  Writing, reading and drawing were the activities that comprised most of my time as a child.  But, as I grew older, my school curriculum provided no support for creative writing.  We studied literature and poems but were only given latitude to write analytical essays about them.  Under this method of instruction, poetry -- as a discipline to study along very strict parameters -- became something I grew to detest.

Two years ago, in my Studio MFA program at SAIC, I had the good fortune to begin developing a poetic voice under the tutelage of the incredible Pamela Sneed.  In the span of one semester, she cracked that voice -- which I didn't even know existed -- wide open, and by the summer, I found some of my earliest poems in the process of publication.

It is with heartfelt gratitude and excitement that I announce another upcoming publication.  The Spring 2018 issue of Parentheses Journal will feature a new poem that I wrote in December during my residency at the Vermont Studio Center.  The poem is titled "Ages" and reflects on a thirteen-year-old family photograph, recently unearthed in my garage.

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Poetry Reading, Black Cat Books

On Sunday, January 14th, I had the pleasure of participating in a poetry reading at the Black Cat Bookstore in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Almost twenty local poets treated us to some of their recent work which encompassed life in New Mexico, spirituality, illness, and coping with loss of a loved one.  The poems were powerful in their sincerity, and it was an honor to be in the company of such wonderful poets!

 Photo credits: artists   Souheir Rawlings   ,   Caz Love   and   Meagan Thompson.  

Photo credits: artists Souheir Rawlings , Caz Love and Meagan Thompson. 

EBLAR 2018 - Artist-in-Residence

On January 6th, 2018, I'll begin the EBLAR 2018 artist residency in Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico.  I  am looking very forward to this opportunity to dive into more painting and video work, as well as connect with fellow artists in this peaceful and beautiful setting.  Resident artists will also have a group exhibition in January -- details to come.

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VSC Writing for Artists Workshop

While I am writing this post in retrospect, I would like to note a writing workshop I recently taught at the Vermont Studio Center.  The entire project was the brainchild of NYC-based poet Rangi McNeil, author of The Missing (2003).  Many visual arts VSC residents were in the middle of applications for graduate school, professorships, fellowships and new residencies.  Many of these applicants needed help with artist statements, research statements and personal essays.  McNeil orchestrated the entire event and asked me to lead and teach, given that I straddle both visual arts and writing.  Our Writing Art Workshop was held Wednesday, December 20th at VSC's Mason House Library, and proved to be a beneficial experience for all participants.

Many thanks to Rangi McNeil, VSC and the many workshop attendees for your participation and support of the project!

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Greetings from VSC!

I am writing from beautiful Johnson, Vermont at the Vermont Studio Center (VSC) residency for artists and writers.  I will be present at this residency until just before Christmas. 

I am currently a resident on the basis of my poetry, so I am spending each day heavily engaged in the Maverick Studios.

I recently read a book which described the process of giving photos as a gift and in the spirit of gratitude, rather than the commonly spoken phrase "taking photos."  The following are images of the Vermont landscape and the VSC campus for your enjoyment.

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season!

Vermont Studio Art Center - Writer-in-Residence

I am incredibly excited to accept and announce my participation in the Vermont Studio Center Artist in Residency program at the end of this year.  I have been admitted into the residency for my poetry.  I will spend a month in Johnson, Vermont deeply engaged in poetic and literary writing, as well as artistic and academic dialogue among other resident artists.

Throughout the residency's duration of the residency, I will maintain a series of blog entries detailing major events including visiting artists, performances, readings and presentations, etc.

For more information about the Vermont Studio Art Center, as well as upcoming residency and fellowship opportunities, please visit its website at http://vermontstudiocenter.org.

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Twisted Oyster Film Festival Chicago - Weight of Experience

I write this blog post still in the midst of coming down from my MFA thesis exhibition and many years of intense artistic and scholarly study.  In a sense, my body and mind are depleted and slowing rebuilding themselves.  Simultaneously, I am grateful and fortunate to have been filled with a repository of knowledge and a strong skill set in a wider range of art disciplines, including performance, poetry and video.

The video below is from my MFA thesis installation (What We Have Built: Expatriate, Sense of the Definite and Weight of Experience).

 

 

I am honored the have the opportunity to recreate this installation in an upcoming exhibition of digital, video and new media-based art in Chicago in the Twisted Oyster Film Festival at 33 Contemporary/Art NXT Level.  This exhibition, which will take place in October and November 2017, was curated and spearheaded by the amazing Pia Cruzalegui, a contemporary artist and curator based in Chicago.    

In addition, Pia has given me the opportunity to lead and teach an art education program on October 21st, 2017 to students in Chicago.  In future blog posts, I'll provide further details (and documentation!) of these upcoming events.

East Meets West Exhibition at Galaudet Gallery

I am pleased and honored to be a part of My Medicine: East Meets West, an art exhibition which addresses the critical importance of both Asian and Western traditions, practices and philosophies in medicine and healing.  This exhibition is through Galaudet Gallery's Eau Claire, WI location and will run from June 18th - September 18th, 2017.

Three of my drawings from the Interconnectedness series (2014 - 2015) have been selected for this exhibition.  The following is my statement/narrative regarding this body of work:

"This series of drawings is inspired by Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine, written by Shigehisa Kuriyama and originally published in 1999.  These works are created using handmade kozo paper made from traditional Japanese paper-making processes.  With pen and ink, I draw interconnecting lines and shapes that are rooted in both the imagery that comes from from my subconscious mind, as well as abstracted versions of various close-up photographs of foliage and human muscles.  These diverse images merge together to create new, hybridized forms that reference the interconnectedness — not only of the human body and nature — but also an individual’s inextricable relationship to the surrounding environment.  Interconnectedness is further referenced by the hand spun wool fibers which are attached to the back of each drawing to create an all-over network.  Lastly, the entire drawing is coated in a layer of translucent encaustic wax to create a physical “skin” which surrounds the image, conjuring associations of the protective nature of human skin, as well as its fragility."

Mantle Art Space Exhibition

Hello everyone,

I am honored to be a part of an upcoming group exhibition -- Excavations in Yellow -- through Mantle Art Space in San Antonio.  The exhibition's opening reception is this weekend, and since I am in the thick of thesis writing and artwork, it is likely I will not be able to attend.  San Antonio is a beautiful city, incredibly rich with history.  If you happen to be in the area, please stop by and support a new gallery space.