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The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho

The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho (TAM) operates in the public trust as a museum of service and as a regional leader in the visual arts. TAM promotes the power of the arts to educate, inspire and enhance the lives of individuals of all ages and abilities in eastern Idaho. To ensure the arts are an integral part of living for the youngest to the oldest citizen, TAM showcases rotating art exhibits, acquires and displays artwork, particularly works by Idaho artists, and provides extensive art educational opportunities. Through its ARTworks education program (originally developed in 2003 to fill the void left by significant funding cuts for the arts in school districts), museum educators take art processes based on TAM’s art exhibits and permanent collection into regional elementary school classrooms to strengthen students’ understanding of and skills in the arts, provide guided exhibit tours with related art lessons, and provide visual arts educational opportunities for area educators.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

Can pairing professional artists with teachers and students inspire and empower art making in their classroom?

Our essential question guides the ARTworks educational activities that take place at TAM and in school classrooms across the region. TAM’s curriculum addresses core art principles, examines art history, and offers challenging art-making techniques with guided hands-on opportunities for personal expression of newfound skills and understanding. Art offerings are designed to encourage discussion and divergent thinking, promote understanding of the viewed artist’s process through individual exploration, and allow for individual expression followed by group discussion of the challenges and discoveries made during the creative process.
In preparing lessons and conducting program evaluations, we address the following National Core Arts Standards:
6. Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. VA:Cr1.2
7. Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. VA:Cr2.1; VA:Cr2.2
8. Anchor Standard 3: Refine and complete artistic work. VA:Cr3.1

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

During the Annie O’Brien Gonzalez Mixed Media Outreach lesson, the following Core Arts Standards Enduring Questions were addressed:

Anchor Standard 1: What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking?
Anchor Standard 2: How do artists work?
Anchor Standard 3: What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work?

At the conclusion of the Annie O’Brien Gonzalez lesson students responded:

“Mixed media is fun because you get to do lots of different things with your art.”
“Annie used nature to inspire her artwork.”
“Artists know all about the color wheel. They know how to make new colors.”
“It was exciting to stamp. I was nervous it wasn’t going to be good. After I practiced it turned out great.”
“Abstract means you can use any colors and shapes.”
“Abstract can make you show a feelings.”
“Annie uses lots of different layers of paint to make her paintings.”
“Complimentary colors make a ‘pop.'”


By the end of the project, I noticed that the lesson we offered evolved throughout the year, a result of weekly meetings we have to reflect on the process we offer and the outcomes. I was surprised how some students were so intent on creating a realistic painting and were excited to learn 3-D drawing techniques, while other students embraced the concept of creating an abstract painting, making changes and creative decisions throughout the process.

Teachers commented
So much fun! I loved that a lesson about an artist was included. The lesson was very effective. My kids loved doing mixed media.

I loved the way Nikki reviewed the vocabulary with my students. It actually gave me the idea of how to review vocab with them in the future. She asked them questions then had them come up with questions at the end to quiz her. That really challenges them to see if they are able to understand the new vocabulary. It was an amazing lesson.

I love that the lessons always vary. I then can incorporate this lesson into my teaching, knowing that next time students will be exposed to a different lesson. I have six art lessons that I have copied from outreach experiences. Thanks so much for coming prepared and being engaged; my students love it!


Transitioning back to in-person classroom visits was refreshing after the prior year of teaching virtually. Being present in the classroom allows for making direct connections with students and teachers. The energy and joy the students bring to the project is so rewarding. While we continue to offer the option of virtual outreach visits, 100% of the teachers requested in person visits. I would encourage other programs to do in-person visits whenever possible.