Faculty Examples

Rachel Green

Preparing Students for an Interconnected World One Class at a Time

I teach in the area of crafts emphasizing Fibers. Textile art is at the same time one of the most local of all the art forms and the one most international. Every culture has its own specific textile traditions based on access to materials, climate, culture, and geography. But is at the same time, the textile has always been subject to the influence of international trade. This process has only accelerated with the increase in travel, tourism, and the ability to market goods and distribute information via the internet.

Home page. Valle Verde Site- This website is a cooperative effort between Mrs. Angela Horne, myself, the students who participated in the Argentina Study abroad in 2008, and the Valle Verde Foundation, a grassroots community organization located in Seclantas, Argentina and dedicated to the establishment of a sustainable craft and tourism industry. The purpose of the website is to educate others about the Valle Verde Foundation, the families, and their weaving traditions. In 1998 and 2007, I had the opportunity to attend two faculty development seminars to Argentina. The last faculty development seminar focused on the northwest of Argentina in the province of Salta. From these faculty seminars, I developed a study abroad program to Argentina in 2008.

Study abroad students as cultural ambassadors.

  • Before and during the trip, we partnered with the Valle Verde Foundation. We completed one pre-planned service project and also worked on developing a website about the organization and families it represents. Because of these joint service projects, the participants no longer saw themselves as merely visitors but as partners in the community. This perception becomes a unique motivational force for the students to become effective cultural ambassadors to their fellow students upon returning. Also, during the program, students were encouraged to produce works of art directly influenced by their Argentine experience, integrating the research and information gained from their trip into a personal artistic expression. After returning, students exhibited work created as a result of the trip in Viaje Andina: Art, Inspired by Northwest Argentina in the Armstrong Fine Arts Gallery. Oct. 13-Nov. 7, Reception Oct 15, 12:15-1:30. The exhibit also included textiles produced by the artisans of the Valle Verde Foundation, so that students were exhibiting their work along side the people that they visited as fellow artists. This gallery venue in combination with art and design skills served as a vehicle for inter-cultural exchange. During the reception, students presented talks on the Andean culture they visited and the artwork they produced as a result of their experience.

Activities directly linked to Art Courses.

  • In the classroom, I teach an Introduction to Craft that is required of all art majors. During this course, the Andean weaving and dyeing techniques are used as an example of how geography, access to materials, and culture combine to produce craft traditions. The Valle Verde website serves as an academic resource for the course, allowing students to review course materials at their own pace.

  • The Valle Verde Project is a first hand example of how craft can serve as a catalyst for community identity and economic development. All craft students are involved with the project in that students donate their own art works to sell during Armstrong day and the outdoor festival. The proceeds go to benefit the Valle Verde Foundation.

  • As a part of the Introduction to Crafts course, students research a culture of relevance to themselves. As a part of their personal self-expression, they produce a fabric painting that incorporates the iconography of their selected culture. Then, they give presentations about the culture they have studied and their own sense of identity.

Angela R. Horne

This website is a great example of many the many facets an interdependent project or class experience can have.

First, is the ?experience' aspect. For instance, one goal of the website is to illustrate the VVF as a group of individual artists. Don Clemente is one of those artists, who has now retired his loom due to old age. In 2008, we were present to be a part of his last poncho, and were able to document his immense contribution to the artisans — an experience that impacted us all. On the site, we are using a student's large-format image that has been digitzed. This image and many others were also featured in last Fall's exhibition.

Secondly is the support from Armstrong. Two internal university grants (both a teaching and learning grant and a research and scholarship grant), a college of liberal arts faculty-student collaborative research grant, and departmental support all contributed to making this project a reality. We would like to thank Dr. Tom Cato, AMT's department chair for continuing to support this effort.

Lastly, and possibly the most obvious, is the project itself. The site you are looking at is the compilation of a large amount of information on the process, people and region. Compiling and organizing data and images, preparing them for the digital format of the computer screen — translating a textural media into illuminated media of the computer screen. One aspect of the site that is not as visble is the meta tag coding. These codes include a database of carefully chosen keywords and descriptions that allow for online search engines world-wide to theoretically find this site's information easier, but do not interrupt the visual aesthetics of the site.