School Programs & Long Term Projects

 

 

Nothing made me feel more welcome than when I saw this sign!
My first in-school project right after the COVID lockdown (2021)

Niawen'kowa to Greg Farrell, Alexandria Critch and staff for making each day a little bit better!

 

As an artist I feel it's important to give back to the community whenever possible, but as a First Nations artist I believe that it is important to educate the youth of today with authentic knowledge and experiences so that real reconciliation can take place between the Indigenous (Onkwehón:we) and the non-indigenous people of Turtle Island.

 

A York Region District School Board Story

Released June 2020

 

These are some of the things I have done in the classroom.

 

I'm more than happy to have a meeting with your team to discuss project ideas. In all cases I like to tailor what I do in your school to the needs of the classroom. I always feel that when working together we can always bring authentic Indigenous learning to your school.

 

A Note About Scheduling: Due to the nature of this business and the seemingly uneven demand at times, I sometimes find it difficult to ensure a spot within my schedule for all interested schools. As a "one-man-show", I have limited time given the length of the school year. As such, I can only schedule on a "first come, first serviced" basis. In otherwords I need a firm commitment that your project will proceed before I can commit to a date in my calendar. If I say yes to one school, you can rest assured that I said no to another.

In many cases funding will be an issue that gums up the process. I am always happy to provide an estimate after a phone consultation so that you can get the ball rolling with your admin, but please do so with enough time to spare.

I am also happy to provide a "reminder" for the next sememster or school year, but this will not ensure a spot in my schedule until that commitment is made. Therefore in the words of Beyoncé... "if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it".

I am currently working with York Region District School Board and the Toronto District School Board.

 

Selected Schools I've worked with:

  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier Public School
  • Cornell Village Public School
  • Emmy Carr Secondary School
  • Ventura Park Public School
  • Beckett Farm Public School
  • Mackenzie Glen Public School
  • Unionville Public School
  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier Public School
  • Keswick Secondary School
  • Milliken Mills Secondary School
  • Markham District High School
  • Vaughan Secondary School
  • Keswick Secondary School
  • Markham District Secondary School
  • Silver Stream Public School
  • Park Avenue Public School
  • Loyalist College
  • High Gate Public School
  • Milliken Mills Public School
  • Teacher AQ - FNMI Studies AQ Part 1
  • Teacher AQ - FNMI Studies Specialist
  • Bayview Secondary School
  • Vivian Outdoor Centre
  • Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre
  • Edward T. Crowle Public School
  • Lincoln Alexander Public School
  • Stonebrigde Public School
  • Edward T. Crowle Public School
  • Enaahtig Healing Lodge
  • Carrville Mills Public School
  • Keswick Secondary School
  • Roméo Dallaire Public School
  • Markham District Secondary School
  • Adrienne Clarkson Public School
  • Franklin Public School
  • Unionville Secondary School
  • Lake Wilcox Public School
  • Richmondhill Secondary School
  • Aurora Secondary School
  • Stonebridge Public School
  • Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre

 

Below are some examples of classes that I have been given the opportunity to either lead or participate. Most of these photos were taken from various school board tweets.

 

June - National Indigenous History Month - 2021

During the entire month of June I made virtual classroom visits to both elementary and high schools. Within the elementary school (typically grade 1-6) I talking about contemporary Indigenous communities and introduced students to basic concepts. Then told by children's story book, "Coyoye Boy: an original Trickster story". With pictures being "shared" via Google Classroom or Zoom I was able to tell the story and voice the characters behind the scene. Great fun for me, and the kids loved it!

High School students had a chance to discuss art related topics, view my process while I integrated topics of identity, stereotype, appropriationation and responsible art making into the mix.

 

 

 

Teaching During the 2020-2021
COVID-19 Pandemic

 

Teaching during the 2020-2021 Covid-19 Pandemic was a difficult experience for teachers and students alike. With two teenage sons in grade 10 then 11, I constantly worried about both their health and education. It was a trying experience for me personally.

As an freelance art, history and Indigenous social justice teacher I found it extremely stressful at times because when you define an important part of yourself as a teacher, and then suddenly find yourself unable to teach, the stress levels DO rise.

Luckily I was able to continue as many had, I soon learned to adapt and to find news ways to reach my students online. In some cases I found my new methods worked better and gave students a more "personal" view of my painting process... much like "Bob Ross".

In a lot of cases I continued to teach history and social justice issues to high school "Native Studies" students, but I also gave "talks" to teachers within their FNMI Studies AQ courses. Thus helping to further their knowledge and help them qualify to teach Indigenous based subjects within their board.

Here are some photos of my virtual art "classroom".

My "Demo" desktop
Giving one of my students live feedback

 

 

Adrienne Clarkson Public School

First Nations Mural Project

As with most of my programs, this class started with an introduction to First Nations culture and ended with a traditional oral story. Using that story as inspiration, the students created a number of "characters" that would later be used for a wall mural. Being an 8 week program I was able to include additional art lessons on shape, form and line as well as pallet selection. And as I normally do I included more First Nations culture such as the Mohawk language.

This is an example of some of the final designs from ONE of my classes. At Adrienne Clarkson there were 75 students making up a total of three grade 8 classes.

The Initial Design

The orignal intent was to take the best 3 designs from each class and to create an integrated mural. I originally started doing this and was able to fit 4 from each class into the mural on the left. However, I found it very difficult to ignore the other GREAT work created and decided to include a second mural on the right. This is an ambitious project when you consider we will be starting the first week of June and only have 3 weeks to complete both murals. The plan is to have the students complete 90% of the work.

The Final Mural (above two images)

 

 

Markham District High School

March 2020

Grade 11 & 12

I've also done one day portraiture workshops with an emphasis on classical procedures, drawing from life, and the Zorn Pallet. In this case we had a volunteer student to sit for us. I also spoke about the importance of lighting and demonstrated 3/4 lighting technques. The students had many questions about the business of a Professional Artist as well as technique.

     

 

In classroom oil painting demo (started in class - completed in the studio)

 

 

Beckett Farm Public School

2019-2020 Grade 7 & 8

Four large canvases (4x8 feet), 160 students, 4 sessions per week for 3 months. We completed some wonderful art based on some traditional oral stories I told. In the end I brought my son in to help with the black line work. The emphasis was on line, color and translating an oral story to a pictorial format.

My eldest son Jake (one of the three feathers) is helping me put some finishing touches on the panels before completion. This was the last major project that I completed before the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.

 

 

Unionville PS - 2019
Grade 7 & 8

This library mural was created in a large part by the students themselves. Taking their designs, I orchestrated a harmonious design that created a narrative story.

 

 

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Public School - 2019

Grade 7

This rather large program included 120 grade 7 students, four classes twice a week for 8 weeks. In addition to an introduction to First Nations culture, and specifically Kanien'keha:ka culture, I taught design and color. The projects included individual canvases that will hang in the library and a wall mural that will grace the front foyer.

I was also asked to speak at the staff meeting about our project, cultural appropriation as well as other top-of-the- mind topics.

 

 

Keswich Highschool

(December 2018) GraDE 12

This five day program (75 minutes each day) ran from Monday to Friday and encompassed the use of oils on canvas with traditional figurative painting skills. Each day included a short demo, discussion and videos as well as practice. Due to the short time in class it is not expected that the students will complete the project during the artist's stay, but additional time will be needed within class. This prorgam gives the students a basic understanding of the tools and techniques needed to explore this medium further.

Longer class times are recommended for the student to fully benefit from this experience.

 

 

Markham District

Highschool (June 2018)

During MDHS' annual Indigenous Conference I had the pleasure to be invited to teach two 70 minute workshops to these attentive Grade 10 classes. I tried to incorporate as much about art, Kanien'keha:ka culrure and Indigenous culture as possible. But of course the time was limited. I also included a "ways of seeing" drawing exercise.

Near the end I had a discussion with art teachers about Cultural Appropriation in the field of art and had the chance to reference my favourite example of what NOT to do. We all agreed that AmandaPL is a great example of "White Priviledged Cultural Appropriation". You can read more about this within my extras blog called "Buckskin and Feathers"

 

 

ET Crowle PS - Fall 2017

Preparing for Quest


ET Crowle PS - Preparing for Quest In preparation for Quest 2017, the students of Miss Ringler's class were given a introduction to Indigenous and Kanien'keha:ka culture through class discussions and traditional oral stories. Later it was decided that Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson would be used as the source for individual projects (acrylic on canvas) and a larger 3x5 mural on wood panel.

This was 1 of 4 panels that would be inspired by various Indigenous issues and cutlure. The other panels would explore issues around MMIW&G (Grade 7), Social Issues (Grade 8) and Oral Story Telling (grade 6).

 

 

E.T.Crowle Public School

YRDSB QUEST 2017

Grade 5 & 6

This was a six class program in which I would spent half a day with the students to first teach them about Indigenous culture in general, then my Kanien'keha:ka culture in particular through discussion and traditional oral storytelling. After which time we started the design process based on a selected traditional story. It was decided to base this year's paintings off the story of "Hiawatha and the Peacemaker" as written by the famous Mohawk song writer and musican (The Band) Robbie Robertson from Six Nations Mohawk Territory in Brantford Ontario. We decided to go this route since this oral story takes 12 days to recite and I am far from qualified to tell this tradtional Haudenosaunee story in all it's glory and detail.

 

 

 

ET Crowle PS (June 2018)


On National Indigenous Day I spent the morning with Mrs. White's Grade 2 class telling oral stories and reading from my story book, Coyote Boy. As you can tell I'm a "full-body" story teller.

Grade 2

 
 
 

 

 

Silver Stream PS (May 2018)


A little younger than the classes I normally teach, I was suprisingly impressed by their manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They produced wonderful work and enjoyed my lessons on Indigenous culture through oral story telling. In addition to individual projects, I've taken their work and incorporated it into one large mural.

Grade 4

 

Stone Bridge PS (Dec 2017)


I teach line, color and design using a variety of indigenous art styles with traditional oral stories as inspiration. I bring indigenous culture to students who have never met an indigenous person before. I like to think I am making a difference.

Grade 8

 

Keswick High School (Oct 2017)

"All My Relations"
Visual Arts through Indigenous ways of learning.

Grade 10 & 12

 

 

Keswick High School (Oct 2017)

"The Old Ones"
Grade 12

This Indigenous themed art project relates to the difficult and often overlooked task of "seeing" rather than simply "looking" at an object. This important skill is part of the artist’s mental toolbox, and allows the artist to capture more than the likeness of a person or thing, but also the "essence". With the use of the “old ones” I teach my students respect for Mother Earth as well as, I hope, the ability to “see” the minute details of light, shadow and texture.

The ability of students to really experience what is around them in the physical world is being lost as they plug into an electronic world that invades every aspect of their senses. They look without seeing and experience nothing unless it can be found within the confines of their phone or electronic devices.

 

 

KAIROS BLANKET EXERCISE (Oct 2017)

Markham District High School, grade 9
Click an image to expand.

 

Artist in residence (2017)

The Artist in Residence program brings into the classroom, professional artists to work with a class or classes for a entire week. In the case of this particular project, I worked with a Grade 8 class in the mornning and a Grade 7 class in the afternoon. Like all my programs, I integrate First Nations culture and oral storytelling into my lessons.

After an introduction and project explanation, I told a traditonal oral story which I then then broke into sections. I feel that it is important to "tell" the story in a traditional manner so that the students experience an "authentic" telling that they can later incorporate into their art. Once complete each panel can be mounted sequentially to pictorially retell the story.

Below are selected samples of the panels which are 3.5 feet wide and 5 feet tall. The grade 8 class was responsible for the first 6 panels, whereas the grade 7 students tackled the last 6 panels.

Top Three - Grade 8 & Bottom 3 - Grade 7

 

Grade 12 First Nations Art Inquiry (2016)

 

 

Grade 11 First Nations Art Inquiry (2016)

 

Grade 12 FN Art INQUIRY

The following photos are a continuation of the project which started in 2016 with the grade 12 class from Unionville High School. We did these in April, and were destined to be shown on May 3 at the Aurora Cultural Centre. With such a short deadline, you can imagine that the students and teacher were pushing hard to get this competed on time.

Working with 4 other Indigenous artists we tried to immerse the students in as much cultural experience as possible. This included exposure to our art, traditional oral stories and culture. I am please to say that 3 out of the 4 sculptures depicted below seem to be a result of my telling of the Sky-Woman story. Although this could be a loose translation on my part. One depicts a woman holding a pregnant belly (Sky-Woman), a pair of hands hold a turtle shell with a muskrat swimming upwards, and a goose swept up by a whirl wind of air coming in for a landing. Each will incorporate glass as well as wood.

I would like to stress that we (the NDN artists) acted as inspiration and did perhaps give a little guidance during the design process ( I also contributed a small amount of carving to the goose’s wings), but most of the talent and hard work must be attributed to the students themselves, as well as Shane; the chainsaw welding teacher (who should be considered a true artist in his own right) from Unionville High School.

 

 

Grade 8 Art Class (Woodland Style)

 

As a traditional oral storyteller and artist, Deron uses stories as a way of engaging student’s minds and hearts, he then helps to make connections to the art with these stories. Selecting the Woodland style art form for its step-by-step methodology, Deron was able to take his students from a relative state of indigenous ignorance to a position of relative comfort. It all began with the “story”.

 

 

Stone Bridge Public School

First Nations Mural Project

Characters for the mural were based on our Woodland Style paintings that we created in a previous class. I then took these characters and incorporated them into an overall design. Adding a background that would highlight the students work, and create an overall pleasing theme.

 

Grade 7 Art Class
(oral story interpretation through art)

 

 

 

Grade 8 Social Studies
& Art Class

 

This program was a little different in that I was given the opportunity to help teach the entire unit on First Nations culture and eventual European contact. I worked with the teacher in a tag-team arrangement where I provided additonal information to help fill in different areas, gave an Indigenous point of view, and brought things to the discussions that normally would not be included. The culmination of this knowledge was expressed with arcylic on canvas and a celebration at the end that included fry bread!

I will forever be grateful to Ms. White for giving me the opportunity to do this. I found it a great learning experience and I personally feel that these students went away with not only a historical sense of FN culture, but an understanding of the issues and priorities of FN people today.

 

 

 

Coyote Boy: An original Trickster Story

Coyote Boy is currently being used in a number of elementary school classrooms in Southern Ontario as well as the Northern Cheyenne Reservation School in Montana USA, and is available from Goodminds.com. It was also selected for the 2016 - First Nation Communities Read - Recommendation List

The photo to the left/below shows the classroom bulletin board from Northern Cheyenne Reservation School.

In June 2017, Coyote Boy was performed as a stage play by the grade 5s of Stonebridge Public School, Markham, Ontario.