School Name: North-Grand High School
Teacher Name: Getsemani Nava
Teaching Artist Name: Keaton Bell
Big Idea: Inquiry: How can social causes/movements and cultural representation be interpreted through comic book writing, character creation to further expand these narratives?
1. Planning: What interests and curiosities were brought to the planning by each of you?
Teacher response: Our group this year seemed to respond better to “what makes them passionate” or “what is important to you” when we have them talk about daily issues they go through. Students open up in ways they are not able to open up when we simply ask them “what social causes are important to you?” The ideas that came out of students during these chats have really made an impact in my quest to getting students to open up and let these ideas fl0w in their artwork.
Teaching Artist response: It was really important for me especially during these times to have the students explore their cultural and identities and focus on representation because comic book nerdam can be such a closed off realm especially when it comes to woman and POC’s. We’ve really been pushing our students to pull from their own personal and cultural experiences and use are daily conversations about whats going on in the world to share their narratives through the lens of comics.
2. The Project: Tell the story of your project. What happened in the classroom? Last year we got down to business when it came to drawing. We did a lot of it. This year we pretty much have the same group of students and we have done a lot more in terms of character building, developing stories, creating fan fiction and meshing different stories together. At this point our students have created initial drawings of their comic book character, have had many discussions about their origin stories, and have created comic book strips about personal daily stories.
3. How did you check in throughout the project to plan and adjust plans as the project unfolded?
When we feel students are getting stuck or when students come up with questions or ideas we hadn’t thought about that is when we know we need to adjust our plans. Most recently for example we began watching Neo Yokio. This series impacted students because we we’re able to show them that they can take issues and imagery from their everyday lives and merge it with the supernatural world.
4. What are the conflicts, contradictions or challenges of your teacher/artist collaboration?
Teacher response: As previously stated, getting our students to open up is a conflict that we’ve faced. Building student confidence when working on their artwork and getting them to keep improving what they have already created is definitely a conflict. Our solution to this is making students feel supported. This as a resulted has made them thrive in areas they didn’t think they could. One of our students was feeling apathetic about drawing and we had her sculpt. She really felt comfortable with this and is now using her sculptures to turn those into drawings.
Teaching Artist response: The biggest issue we faced was getting the students comfortable enough to talk about their personal lives and any issues in the world they felt like were important enough to address to a group setting.
5. What are you learning as a result of collaborating with one another in terms of teaching and art making?
Teacher response: That it can be a slow process and that sometimes it is also like taking two steps forward and one step back. I think we both envisioned a group that is strong in art, entering its second year with us and that we’d be further along than we are. But we have also learned that although our art projects are not as far along as we’d like that our students are growing. At the end of this year I think we will have more quality than quantity and that is ok.
Teaching Artist response: We’ve been very successful by having regular check ins with one another and with the students and their progress personally and through the artmaking process. Creating realistic deadlines and being adaptable has helped us and our kiddos stay on task because all of them are are in multiple clubs and they have to manage their time with the clubs because we operate on the same days in addition to keeping up with their classes.
6. How has the community-focused component of the project contributed to or challenged your teacher/artist collaboration?
Teacher response: Well our community component this year or at least up until now has been our focus on being ready for the Hairpin Gallery event. It has put good pressure on our group to have things ready by a certain date. After our students are done with that deadline we will focus more on a community focus closer to home. Students will hopefully be bringing their comic book character alive via the drama club, and we will begin working on deadlines for our NGHS gallery event for the Spring.
Teaching Artist response: Aside from helping our students further develop their origin stories in the hope that the underline messages within the comics will resonate with other students the within the North Grand community we haven’t done community focused work other then focusing on work for the Hairpin Showcase. We plan on creating a larger body of work for their other show at the end off the year and collaborating with other North Grand Clubs to assist in the development of their characters.