As the associate curator of education, I’ve been planning The Warhol‘s annual Teacher Open House for the past 10 years. The event features special previews of exhibitions, lectures, gallery talks, art making, and classroom resources, and teachers in attendance receive Act 48 credit hours and information about school partnership opportunities. The event on November 12 kicked off with a well-deserved sit-down dinner and a chance for teachers to chat with their colleagues over drinks. This is where I caught up with Kathleen Slowik, an art educator at Ingomar Middle School in the North Allegheny School District. We talked about past events, and how she implements in her classroom resources and ideas from teacher open houses she attends.
Nicole Dezelon: How long have you been attending the teacher open house?
Kathleen Slowik: I have been attending The Warhol’s teacher open houses for a very long time; I believe, since they began, actually. I remember my peers and I were so excited when we learned of the open house, I was teaching elementary art at the time, my guess is 1996 or 1997.
ND: Do you have a favorite or most “memorable” teacher open house?
KS: I have such a great time each year I attend and look forward to each one. I have often attended workshops with teachers from my school, who enjoy the arts and teach science, social studies, English, as well as my art educator friends, and I always have a fantastic time and walk away inspired. Hearing about the upcoming events, the docent tours, seeing the featured artists, the delicious food, and printing in the studio are always uplifting and inspiring experiences! They keep me coming back with enthusiasm! Some of the workshops I enjoyed most were the year The Warhol partnered with and bused teachers to the Mattress Factory for an Indian dance and dessert; the year the museum had “dress up” in the studio, which was a lot of fun; I loved the Colors of Warhol: Silver and Gold teacher workshop and the Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend exhibition. I have to say each workshop is memorable!
ND: What keeps you coming back?
KS: Having attended for so many years, I can say The Warhol’s teacher open house is always fresh, fun, educational, and inspiring! I always leave inspired, with great ideas to take back to the classroom. It is a great night with great friends, and I walk away with a folder of resources, new enthusiasm, and great ideas for my students.
ND: How have you incorporated content from the teacher open house into your classroom?
KS: The Warhol is a great resource with many rich new ideas. I was so excited about the Bruce Nauman exhibition, I had students create a linoleum block print, using strictly words, in various arrangements, as their composition. I was so excited seeing Warhol’s shoe drawings; I had students create beautiful poinsettia ink blot drawings, drawn from life embellished with watercolor, and a hint of the glitter spray was beautiful for the winter months. I have had students create large pop art “containers” from clay, celebrating Warhol’s work. Following a class field trip to The Warhol, students created a ceramic project, using image transfers to incorporate the work they enjoyed seeing in the About Face exhibition. The teacher open houses inspire me to try new ideas, mix other media into students’ linoleum block prints to encourage students to play with materials and ideas, perhaps accentuate the element of “line” as Warhol did in his work, print over collage, foil, add diamond dust, reacting to their design in a creative way. I also utilize the PowerPoint presentations, developed at The Warhol and introduced in prior teacher open houses. The year “Art of Play” was part of the museum’s programming, my students focused on sports as subjects for their prints, and my students and I participated in the video contest that was in the Cultural District for First Night of that year.
ND: What other resources could The Warhol provide to you as a teacher?
KS: I have so enjoyed all of the resources over the years, and I am so grateful for all that you offer, from the PowerPoint presentations, the multiple project ideas shared, publications for students, grants offered as a contest to partner with The Warhol in the past, The Warhol D.I.Y. Pop app, extensive online resources and image sources; all I can say is keep doing what you are doing, and thank you! All I can think of is perhaps adding a second educator night in the spring, for a second jolt of inspiration for teachers!