2014 -15 Big Picture Fellows

The Big Picture has been offering a yearlong fellowship to educators interested in developing their skills and understanding of arts integration. This summer we had over 150 applications! It was a definite challenge to narrow down the field of amazing educators who would work with Big Picture educators over the 2014-­15 school year. We’re thrilled to introduce the three teams of educators who were selected. In their own words, they describe where and what they teach and answer one of the following questions:

  • Why are the arts essential to what you teach?
  • What do you hope to get out of the fellowship?
  • What is your favorite work of art from the NCMA collection, and why?

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Amy Yount

I teach 5th grade at the Doris Henderson Newcomers School in Greensboro, which is in Guilford County. Art is essential to what I teach because my students may not be able to say what they are thinking with words, but they can show me through their artwork.


photo (20)Doris Kroiss

I am a 5th grade ESL teacher at the Doris Henderson Newcomers School, which is a public school in Guilford County. Our school serves refugees and immigrants who have recently arrived in the U.S. I have always said that working at our school is like traveling without leaving home. Our students bring with them a myriad of backgrounds and experiences. Art is an essential tool in my teaching because of its psychological effects on my often traumatized students. Teaching content curriculum with art allows me to put my students at ease while motivating them to learn. It has become an invaluable asset to my teaching.

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Andrew Brennan

I teach 10th grade English at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh. My favorite work of art at NCMA is Gerhard Richter’s Station (577-2) because its psychedelic colors and messy geometry are just plain fun to take in.


Chip2Chip Stone

I teach AP Environmental Science at Leesville Road High School. I am starting my ninth year at Leesville. I’ve been a college professor at Davidson College, UNC–CH, and UNC–Wilmington. I have also been a business owner and hospital administrator. I really like teaching and look forward to using art to help my students love and appreciate science and the arts.

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Anita Rubino

I teach visual arts at Currituck County High School. We live on the beautiful northeast coast of North Carolina. Working with the fellowship is going to enable my colleague and me to pursue a fusion approach to teaching art and English. Working thus far with our advisor, Camille, has been incredible! She is able to bring all the resources the Museum can offer to our collaboration. We are truly excited about the potential to effect change in teaching at our school!

photo (19)Valerie A. Person

I teach English language arts, primarily 10th grade and AP Literature and Composition, at Currituck County High School in Barco, North Carolina. We are part of the OBX. Why do I love the arts? For me, they are a vehicle I ride in to get to the truth. Our ability to create and appreciate art is what separates us from other living creatures. Art is my comfort food; it’s what I “eat” to feel at home.

The Flipped Museum: Artists in Process

The Big Picture Team would like to share another great program offered by our Education Team.

Have you experimented with a “flipped” classroom? Are you interested in blended learning and looking for opportunities to try it out in your school? The NCMA Education team is piloting a blended learning experience that flips the Museum to help deliver content and activities in a fresh way. The deadline to participate is December 1. Read below for more information about the course and how to apply.

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The Flipped Museum

The North Carolina Museum of Art seeks high school art educators to pilot an innovative blended learning program that inverts the delivery of content for a more student-centered approach. This spring, almost 300 high school students from across the state will participate in our first comprehensive pilot of the Flipped Museum called Artists in Process.

What problem does the program address?

Museum tours and studio programs have limited time to engage groups of students who have little knowledge of discussing art in galleries or the content being discussed. There may be advanced students who need to be challenged, along with students who feel overwhelmed. Teachers interested in bringing students for self-guided experiences have limited time and resources to research and design gallery experiences. How can we provide engaging learning experiences for students to deepen learning at the Museum?

What’s the solution?

Based upon the approach of the flipped classroom, the Flipped Museum puts students in control of their learning rather than teachers or docents. The NCMA seeks high school art educators to pilot a new blended learning course to “preload” students before visiting the Museum so they can apply this knowledge during their field trip. Blended learning combines online learning and face-to-face (F2F) learning in the classroom and at the Museum. Students can log in to the Museum’s secure learning management platform to watch content-rich videos that are not published outside of this platform. Teachers become facilitators, working with Museum educators as well as other teachers across the state to engage students in their classroom and at the Museum.

The Museum hopes to build on the foundations of choice-based art education by providing individualized student-centered learning so students can make choices to read content and watch videos that interest them at their own pace. Based on our initial blended learning pilot in spring 2014, we have created a new experience with increased flexibility for teachers to set the pace for students. While we recommend students have one week in the course before visiting the Museum and continue for two weeks after the visit, teachers and students will have access to the course for the entire semester.

DI24944-146What is Artists in Process?

Artist in Process is a blended learning unit that combines individual and collaborative investigation of the artistic process online, in the classroom, and at the Museum. For this course, the Museum will pair classes online whose field trip will be on the same day. Students can watch videos of contemporary North Carolina artists Beverly McIver, Thomas Sayre, and Kiki Farish discussing their process of finding inspiration, developing ideas, and making art. Classes from across the state will partner to explore the artistic process online, individually, and at the Museum.

This blended learning unit was created as a resource to develop work for the annual Teens, Inspired exhibition. Students may choose to submit their work at the end of the blended learning unit. Watch this short Prezi to see how Teens, Inspired and Artists in Process are connected.

How do you apply?

Complete this Google form by December 1. Teachers will be notified by December 11. Teacher orientation begins in early January with a 30-minute Google Hangout and access to the online course. The blended learning unit tentatively begins January 28. Visits to the Museum would be between March 3 and March 13.

Interested, but not a high school art teacher?

We’ll offer opportunities in the next few months to provide feedback on the next blended learning unit integrating English language arts, social studies, and art.

From STEM to STEAM: Reflections from our Big Picture Fellow John Scarfpin

KM_72_Scarfpin_JohnMiddle school teacher John Scarfpin finished up his fellowship with the NCMA Big Picture team this summer and wrote this reflection of his year diving into the arts as a STEM teacher. Here he shares his perspective on what it means to teach the arts. The student work that came out of his fellowship will be on display in the Museum’s education galleries through January 2015. You can also visit his website Technology, Engineering, and Design.

When I first took on the challenge of integrating art into my STEM class, I thought, “I already do this, it’ll be easy.” Then I actually began to look at what art teachers really have to teach. I never thought of art as problem solving, nor did I ever consider how much one needs to know to complete a work of art. I always thought of art as something that just happened. Someone found inspiration in something and created something they thought would be cool or expressive of a situation. My experience as a Big Picture fellow has given me a new perspective and respect for art teachers in general.

When I think of problem solving, I think of engineering, math, or science─but art, it was not even on the radar. I never thought that there was a problem in art. I have taken art classes in painting, photography, pottery, three-dimensional design, and sculpture, and never thought of the assignments as problems. I simply found them as enjoyable activities. I find great joy in creating things, and that was the way I viewed art as a class. Then the paradigm shift began to happen. I started to look at the parallels between art, engineering, science, and math. In all of these things, as with the rest of the universe, the foundation of these areas of study has to do with how the elements are arranged. The difference between wood stacked in a pile and the frame of a house, grains of sand and glass, numbers on paper and a well-formulated equation, paint on a palette and a masterpiece on the wall, all comes back to organization.

Once I began to realize this, my project began to take shape in my mind. Through the engineering and design procengineering_design_process1-2fdq4vsess, we began to integrate the elements of design from art. My students studied Vollis Simpson’s Wind Machine and began to define the problem they had. We wanted to create our own kinetic sculptures that we could display in the Museum. Originally, to give the project context, I had the students focus on creating something similar to Wind Machine, but as we began to move through the E&D process and identify constraints, we realized that wind was not on our side, given the display area. As a result, we modified our designs to use gearboxes and motors. As each team worked on brainstorming solutions to the problem, many different ideas emerged, ranging from pieces derived from perpetual motion machines and marble machines to more organic structures with spinning flowers.

As the ideas began to take shape and grow, so did the challenge of managing it all. Students had to then figure out which materials to use for their construction and how to assemble it so it would actually work. We focused on simple machines and compound machines in figuring out the mechanics needed to make the pieces work. Students began to bring in many assorted materials, such as cardboard, marbles, tubing, paint, and even a tree stump.

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For me, as the instructor, the real problem working against me was time. I thought two weeks would work for this project, and testing was coming, so I thought, “This will work out in time.” But two weeks became four weeks, and then after testing was over, another week until school was dismissed. In total the students spent five weeks working on the projects that I thought would take about two weeks of class time.

All I know is that art teachers must be some amazing people. I have done science projects that require extensive construction, but this was something else. Everyone was given the same prompt at the beginning, and every team took a different approach to the problem. Each project grew into extremely involved and detailed construction, and if school had not ended, I think the students would have spent several weeks more trying to add to each one.

In the end, even though some projects remain incomplete, I do not see this as a failure. This project is about the process and not the product. I feel that the students learned a great deal about the design process and how all the various curriculum areas go together in solving real world problems. There is a lot of room in STEM to make STEAM. The challenge I see is in most experiments and engineering activities is that when it works you are done. With art it is only truly done when you are ready to set down your tools and say it is done.

Introducing Concept Explorer v2

By Ashley Weinard, Educator


Concept mapping on ArtNC.org just got way more fun, flexible, and personal. The new and improved version of the NCMA’s Concept Explorer tool lets you customize your concept maps with your own images and your own concepts. We have been listening to your feedback and requests for more versatility! Thanks for helping us make our mapping tool even cooler and more useful.

Now, let’s see what you can do with the new CE 2.0:

1. You can map your own images, as well as NCMA collection works.

Can’t find the image you are looking for on ArtNC? Add your own.

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Look for this icon in your Portfolio or under the My Images tab in the Concept Explorer. Click on the icon to upload a selfie, photo of a friend, your favorite landscape, an object you treasure, a student art work, or even an NCMA gallery shot. The options are endless. Be creative!

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Personal images are stored in your Portfolio. Your photos will remain private unless you decide to make your concept maps public.

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2. You can tag your personal images with Big Picture concepts and your own concepts.

After you upload your own image, you can tag it with provided Big Picture concepts (e.g., change, communication, environment, interdependence), and you can add your own concepts to your image. (Go wild!) All the concepts you have selected and added will show up as options for concept mapping your image.

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3. You can use your iPad or Android tablet to take and upload new photos within the Concept Explorer.

Have a tablet? Head outside, visit a museum gallery, or capture your classroom. Create a concept map of what you see around you.

Log into your account. Then tap the Start a Concept Map button on the ArtNC.org home page.

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Select My Images and tap the Add-an-Image icon.

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Choose Image File and the Take Photo option. Use the photo or retake it to get a better shot. Add an image title, select your concepts, or add your own. Now you’re ready to start your map.

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These new Concept Explorer features give you and your students the freedom and versatility to design and customize your own concept maps. Share your unique ideas and images with other teachers by making your maps public! Or, browse maps shared by other teachers in the Concept Maps section of the web site. Custom concept maps are distinguished by a camera icon on the bottom right of the map icon.

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Connect and share in your own way. We can’t wait to see and hear about the new connections you and your students create!



Why Concept Mapping?

Ashley Weinard, Educator

ArtNC.org and NCMA teacher workshops are built around the practice of concept mapping. Remember those black and white graphic organizers with spokes and arrows? We don’t use those. NCMA concept mapping is art based and designed to spur creative, critical, and collaborative thinking.

NCMA online tools and professional development programs focus on helping teachers build two key professional and life skills: visual literacy and making connections. After several years at the planning table with groups of teachers, NCMA educators learned that these particular skills enable teachers to be more successful at integrating the visual arts (and works of art) into classroom instruction. They also happen to be critical skills that you are charged with transferring to your students. Visual literacy and making connections support the Common Core’s focus on critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis.

Concept mapping is the perfect collaborative tool for exploring how ideas and concepts connect and expand. Starting with a visual image makes ideas flow more rapidly and opens up thinking. Works of art add a layer of depth and wonder that makes the brainstorming and group conversation even richer. Connections are found, ideas are created, and team trust is developed. As one teacher said, “When you synthesize it all together, it becomes this amazing thing that no one of us would have done just alone.”

Think this might be a good exercise for your planning team? Watch this video to see how to put it into action. If you would like additional support, contact the Big Picture team to set up a team workshop in your area. Or, create your own concept map at ArtNC.org.

Look closely. Discover connections. Be inspired to think and teach creatively.


Want more? Read our last post Why Concepts?

Why Concepts?



By Ashley Weinard, Educator

Have you ever tried to collaborate and discovered you have a hard time finding common ground? Does your colleague across the hall speak a different language from yours? It turns out vocabulary is one of the most common obstacles to collaboration.

Big Picture Concepts are designed to help educators find commonality across the table and within the disciplines. Take a step back from the topics you teach day to day, and consider what abstract concepts encompass your information.

Fractions = part to whole, order

Weather = environment, variation, cycle, force

American Revolution = power, change, time, place

Neighborhoods = interdependence, environment, impact

Plot = communication, order, perspective, conflict

Yes, volcanoes and character development are radically different topics. However, they both have to do with change and adaptation. If you start the conversation with the concepts you share, it will be easier to find opportunities for co-teaching and collaborative planning.

ArtNC lesson plans can be used as models for how to teach integrated content through concepts. In this lesson about North Carolina agriculture, students tackle the concepts of change, impact, perspective, and technology at once through a creative writing and art-making exercise.

Search ArtNC.org to discover how all of the Big Picture concepts play out across the disciplines. You might find that your point of intersection lies in a work of art.

Knowing and Sharing Yourself

Ashley Weinard, Educator


Before I can be generous and put things out into the world, I have to be my most authentic self, which is painting. That is my voice. That is my expression. And, then, it makes me a better teacher in the classroom.”—Beverly McIver

Last week’s Spring Educator Expo in Rocky Mount, N.C., celebrated our identities as educators, creative problem solvers, colleagues, and lifelong learners. It was an opportunity to feel nourished, supported, and encouraged for the very hard and generous work of teaching. The food, wine, camaraderie, laughter, breakout sessions, and artist talks were fuel that reignited our collective desire and energy to teach creatively. The experience was a pat on the back and a friendly push forward.

On this night it was artist Beverly McIver’s presentation “Knowing Yourself” that provided the sweetest and most nurturing food for our weary spirits. We listened as Beverly talked about her own journey in coming to understand herself through painting, the encouragement of her own art teachers, and the constant love and support of her mother and sisters. Her authentic paintings reveal so much of Beverly, but there is still something very introspective about them that keeps you from really knowing what she is reflecting on internally. Having her speak words into her images added another luscious layer of color and humanity to the dried paint. We began to see her paintings as exercises in honest self-exploration, which Beverly says gives her the ability to graciously share her own talents and encouragement with others.

Group discussion with Beverly also raised the questions: How many different identities do each of us have? What is the common strand that runs between them? How can we help students make sense of who they are?


In one expo breakout session, a group of teachers tried out selfies as a format to help kids explore themselves. We are teaching a selfie generation, but how often do our students stop to consider what their handheld reflection communicates to the world around them? This group of teachers tested a new version of the ArtNC.org Concept Explorer to see how it could be used as a tool to help students stop, look, and reflect before they put their best face forward. This online concept-mapping tool, due out early this summer, allows teachers and students to create concept maps with their own images, selfies included. The selfie maps give students (and teachers) a chance to identify a set of concepts that define them and then explore how those concepts play out in their lives and identities. With some coaching students can transfer personalized selfie maps (think rough draft) into more refined portraits of word and image that reveal their own complexity and beauty to themselves and let them confidently shine their faces to the world around them.



Spring Educator Expo: Beverly McIver speaks on identity

The NCMA’s Spring Educator Expo in Rocky Mount is quickly approaching, and we’re all getting excited for the expo’s focus—“identity”—and our special guest speaker, Beverly McIver. What do we mean when we say “identity”? Identity can be defined as “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is” or “the qualities or beliefs that make a particular person or group different from others.” Social, cultural, national, racial, gender, and religious identities shape our lives and our perceptions of ourselves. As an artist and professor of art, Beverly McIver is strongly influenced by her racial, social, and gender identities, and this influence is apparent in many of her self-portraits. At the expo, McIver will attempt to address how the concept of identity influences and inspires her work and how she influences a student’s sense of self as a teacher.


McIver’s work Reminiscing is a series of self-portraits that reflect the artist’s’ emotions in a time of transition. When these self-portraits were painted, McIver was dealing with the sudden death of her mother and her new responsibilities as caregiver to her mentally disabled sister. The portraits depict McIver in mourning, pensively contemplating her and her sister’s future. McIver depicts herself in blackface in an attempt to reclaim stereotypes about African American women and as a way of reflecting on her experiences as a black woman. Raised by a single mother in low-income housing, McIver grew up keenly aware of her racial and social status and sought escape from her circumstances through participation in a clown club. The clown club allowed McIver to hide her identity and race through white face paint. In Reminiscing McIver turns her former attitudes on their head by asking women to confront their identity.

The upcoming Educator Expo will give teachers a chance to hear more about McIver’s work and her experiences as an artist and teacher. We hope to see you there!

Art and the Common Core

Throughout this past year we’ve been doing a lot of workshops and professional development focused on Art and the Common Core. Our essential question has always been, How does the analysis and creation of art complement the processes and skills needed to read and write complex texts? We’ve been using the Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading and Writing as our template for exploring how literacy is defined and developed in both the ELA and Visual Arts classroom. The Common Core is asking students to provide evidence from text to support their observations and ideas, make comparisons between texts, read a wide variety of texts, create a range of written texts, reread and revise texts for more complex meaning, and share multiple interpretations of texts. We’ve been thinking about TEXT being more than just written language. When text becomes a work of art, an image from a magazine, a graphic novel, or any other form of visual imagery, then we can begin to see that the skills needed to read and write complex written texts are similar to the skills needed to analyze and create complex works of art.

Susan Ellen Jones, a K–4 art teacher at Emma Elementary in Buncombe County, attended our Art and the Common Core workshop in Asheville this fall and grappled with the complexity of the language presented in the Common Core Anchor Standards document. She spent some time dissecting the standards after the workshop and created an amazing sister document, Art and Common Core Standards for Literacy, that rewords the Anchor Standards so that they apply directly to the language of the Visual Arts room. We can’t thank Susan enough for personalizing her experience at our workshop and providing what we think is an incredible resource for all educators across the state who are searching for understanding between Art and the Common Core.


Using the NCMA’s Collection for Literature

By Carol Cross, Home-School Educator

For the past two years, I have taught a literature class for home-school students in middle or early high school. I like to have them connect the books they are reading with music, current events, cultural tropes, and other aspects of their lives. So every year, we make at least one field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art to find linkages among the themes we’ve studied in books and the state’s premier art collection.

Last year, one topic we covered was the shift in literature between the romantic and realistic era. Of course, it is hard to read a lot of books in one year’s class to get to know numerous examples from both periods. However, art was going through the same transition at about the same period. So I took them to the Museum for a “Romanticism vs. Realism” scavenger hunt.

I broke them up into groups of four students and instructed them to search among the NCMA’s American, Portrait, and European galleries for examples of both American and European Romantic and Realistic paintings. I restricted them to works from the late 17th and entire 18th century and had each group start on a different category (American Romanticism, American Realism, European Romanticism, European Realism) so they wouldn’t all be clustered around the same paintings at the same time.

We reconvened an hour later and compared results. Each team got points for the number of paintings they had correctly classified. However, mostly the teams had identified the same paintings–for example, John Singleton Copley’s Sir William Pepperrell (1746-1816) and His Family or Albert Bierstadt’s Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite for American Romanticism versus Winslow Homer’s Weaning the Calf or Jean-Francois Millet’s Peasant Spreading Manure as Realism, both American and European.

The students really enjoyed the field trip, and they always like these kinds of “contests” we have periodically in class. But most of all, the difference between Romanticism and Realism became clearly evident to them in a way that is easier to achieve than reading a single example of each kind of literature.

This year, however, we didn’t have a scavenger hunt–we had a Huntzz. Huntzz is a free IOS(Apple)/Android app that can be used with smart phones or tablets. This allowed me to develop a technology-driven, rather than just a paper-based, activity.

Our class this year is focused on analyzing literature using the concept of universal characters or archetypes, as theorized by psychologist Carl Jung and popularized by scholar Joseph Campbell. I had presented a set of twelve major archetypes to the students, and we were discovering that our stories–not only books, but TV shows, movies, and even video games–were replete with these recurring character types. But where else can we discover these archetypes?  In art, of course.

So for this activity, I organized things in a little different way. Using Huntzz, I gave them “clues” that led them to a particular art piece, and they had to figure out what archetype was shown in that work. For example, one clue I gave them said, “This well-known American hero, found in the Contemporary Gallery, is an unconventional example of which archetype?”  This may sound fairly vague, but those who are familiar with the NCMA’s Contemporary collection may recall that there are very few actual people displayed in that gallery. (I told them I was only directing them to people or characters they would all be familiar with, not any obscure biblical figures or ancient European monarchs who aren’t typically covered in American history classes.)

In fact, there was only one famous person I discovered in that gallery, found in Harriet Tubman by Aaron Douglas (work on loan). She is depicted as breaking the chains of slavery, so I characterized her archetype as “Warrior,” (albeit, as I said in the clue, an unconventional one, since she was fighting a systemic injustice rather than a military force).

However, Huntzz also has a map component for each clue. So when I was setting up my Huntzz, I went to the Museum and Huntzz recorded the GPS location for each artwork or gallery to which I sent the students. Therefore, students could check the map section to see if they were in the correct area for the piece they were searching for.

Once again, I broke the class up into teams of four who worked together to figure out the clues and the answers (which meant only one of out every four students needed a smartphone or a tablet, since not everyone has this technology yet). Huntzz kept track of their score, awarding them five points if they gave the right response on the first try, four for the second attempt, etc.  If they couldn’t figure it out, they could “break” the virtual treasure chest with their virtual ax and get the correct answer, although they wouldn’t earn any points for that.

The Huntzz was a great success!  They loved getting to use the technology, although they soon learned the value of supplementing their GPS-driven directions with the good, old-fashioned paper map of the collection the Museum provides. And with this topic, we got to go through all the galleries and figure out the archetypes of a range of artwork, from a classical marble Hercules (another “warrior”), to medieval Madonnas (“caregiver”), to the figure of Horace (“ruler”). The Huntzz demonstrated one of Campbell’s major points–that these same archetypes can be found throughout the world, throughout time, and throughout different types of artistic media.

It’s an old cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words. As a literature teacher, I’m addicted to words. But I’ve found that a trip to the NCMA is a great way to mix things up a bit, and to approach the same lesson we are studying in our books in a different way, using a different learning modality. We are so fortunate that this great resource is open to all the students of North Carolina without charge!


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