Movers and Shakers at the West TN Unconference

Our WTAEA Unconference at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art was a huge success with great attendance! The theme was, “Movers and Shakers,” as we looked at people in Memphis who are making a difference in our community through ART! Our keynote speaker, Jamin Carter, former Memphis area Art teacher and inner-city community service volunteer spoke about his professional journey from his work in Binghampton to his work with the Urban Arts Commission and his current seminar work with Focus 5, Arts Integration Consulting

The topic of his talk was “Taking Risks.” He inspired teachers to continue striving for excellence and that whether or not we realize it, we are making a difference and that others do see our professionalism. He said we are taking calculated risks and making a difference when we invest our time and talent in the lives of our students.

We had four hands-on sessions that all participants were able to attend on a rotating schedule. They included:

AMY MCSPADDEN,“901 ROCKS!”- Amy told the story of how an idea of painting rocks, hiding them around town and posting to a Facebook page, “901 Rocks!” has turned into a regional phenomenon with over 40,000 members and more following every day! Participants painted rocks and learned how this activity can be used in art classrooms at all levels.

SHANNON ELLIOTT & KATHY DUMLAO, “CUT FOR THE CLASSROOM”- Shannon and Kathy demonstrated how Play can be used in the classroom to promote creative thinking and problem-solving. This was an ALL PLAY version of the “CUT Competition” in which all participants created a piece of art that is concept-based from a basket of materials.

KATHERINE VERGOS RIEDERER and ANNA VERGOS BLAIR, “THE ART PROJECT” - Anna and Katherine presented how they took the idea of an open studio and made it a reality known as The Art Project in Mid Town Memphis. Participants experienced a fun sample lesson and learned how The Art Project could be a great fun alternative for extended learning.

RIVER ARTS FEST- MEMPHIS ARTIST KATEY HENRIKSEN guided participants in a book making and story-telling process that can be used in a combined art and literacy lesson. They also discovered about Rivers Arts Fest Grant Opportunities from its director, Angela Less, and how to participate in one of the premier art events in Memphis whose mission is to, “..cultivate, promote, encourage and develop public appreciation and support of the visual and performing arts for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the citizens of Memphis and the surrounding communities in the Mid-South.”

Participants received a conference bag stuffed with over $25 worth of donated art supplies. Several area businesses and national vendors donated enough door prizes for every participant to take away one! Those donors included: The Art Center of Memphis, Michael’s Supply Store, Davis Publications, Dick Blick, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Memphis College of Art.

Advocating for Art Education-Arts Memphis provided cards for teachers to use to write to legistlators concerning the value of the arts. Participants were given time during the day to complete these.


by Melody Weintraub