I believe in the power of learning by doing. What we make becomes a lasting part of ourselves ~ when we invest our creative energy into a project we fully integrate that experience into our lasting memory. This is part of what makes the arts such a powerful learning tool. The creative process allows understanding to happen in new pathways. For example, when a student reads about flower parts, they have one type of understanding; when they make a drawing, painting, collage or sculpture of the same flower parts they gain another level of insight into these structures and their relationships, and likely retain that information for a lifetime.
The projects I lead in my art workshops and classes are designed to help students create beautiful objects, but also present opportunities for learning extensions in several subjects, such as math, science, literature, history and life skills. Being a naturally curious person with many years of experience in education enables me to offer suggestions for further exploration to parents and teachers.
I bring many skills to students and teachers: natural wonder and enthusiasm, flexible creativity, strong organizational and planning skills, and a depth of knowledge in arts and sciences. My varied years of teaching experience, working with both small and large groups, young children to adults, lecture and studio sessions for arts and sciences, helps me assist students of many kinds. I have been a USDA Forest Service naturalist interpreter, home-education parent for twenty years, children's summer arts and science camp instructor, university art instructor, private art teacher, and teaching artist in the local public schools. I thrive on sharing information and providing positive encouragement to people of all ages.
My goal as a teaching artist is to foster confidence and wonder within each person through the creative process.
I enjoy working with people of all ages: I am a certified artist in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and Fairbanks Arts Association "Artists In Schools" residency program, and also offer independent classes for homeschool groups and some classes through the Osher Life Long Learning Institute through the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as well as being an instructor at UAF and The Folk School.
In the 2013-14 school year I worked with over 1300 people, mostly elementary age students at North Pole Elementary, Ticasuk Brown Elementary, Arctic Light Elementary, B.E.S.T. and I.D.E.A. homeschool programs as well as private home education groups. I provided adult art workshops for teachers at all these schools as well as through OLLI and the Folk School.
I am very happy bringing my years experience as home-educator, naturalist, and gardener into the classroom to combine scientific ideas with artwork. One of the most popular projects has been making vegetable-themed collages from painted maps. These were mounted on tiles as coasters and on wood squares for school murals. I also worked with some secondary students birchbark weaving – making bracelets in combination with poems they had written. I led multi-generational land art workshops where participants used materials from the natural environment to create ephemeral outdoor artworks, with the physical landscape as their foundation.
I am flexible and want to work with each school or group designing projects that best suit their needs, and am glad to help provide learning extension suggestions to help tie the artwork to other areas of study.
"Mary was professional, courteous and worked well with students of all ages. It was our pleasure to have her in our large school setting, teaching and participating with a diverse student population. I would not hesitate to have Mary work in our building again and we also look forward to having our schoolwide art displayed for many years!" — Shawna Henderson, Principal, Ticasuk Brown