SELMA – When printmaker and Selma resident Marc Patterson started his high school art teaching career in Selma decades ago, little did he know that his students’ work would one day wind up in the White House.
Patterson now teaches at McLane High and a retrospective of his students’ work dating back to 2004 will be showcased during an upcoming ArtHop starting Feb. 7. A reception for the display, “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” is 5-8 p.m. at Taylor Hall on the campus of Fresno Pacific University, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave. Works will be displayed at FPU’s Taylor Hall, The Art Gallery, Aimes Hall and student union. Student art and writing will be displayed February, March and April.
“It’s the work of the ArtVenture Art Academy I started at McLane High School. It will be quite a big exhibit of more than 20 projects,” Patterson said. “You will see the beginnings of interdisciplinary collaboration and the exploring of big, socially relevant ideas that engage students, teachers and the community.”
In an artist statement, ArtVenture board member and mentor Bobbi Mason said the retrospective is “what the theory in practice looks like. As the ArtVenture teachers have refined their planning process, the generative use of provocative literature has become an exemplary approach to challenge students’ thinking about the Essential Understanding.”
Some of the students were inspired by Kao Kalia Yang’s book, “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” and by interviews with Southeast Asian community members about their immigration stories. This resulted in the students’ creation of the “Stories of Home: The Southeast Asian Story” project which included 50 art panels illuminating the Laotian’s secret involvement in the Vietnam War and the writing of these immigrants’ stories.
The exhibit was presented at Fresno’s Hmong New Year festivities and a number of the panels went on to be displayed at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. and then later four were displayed at the White House for a month.
“With this pattern of engaging students with meaningful curriculum, it is not surprising that Fresno Unified School District leadership asked ArtVenture teachers to develop professional development workshops to mentor other teachers in curriculum design using meaning-centered art projects. The Relevant Engagement with Art and Literacy Collaborative has become a reality and is in its third year of inspiring other teachers,” she wrote.