New artist-in-residence joins area schools | SierraSun.com
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New artist-in-residence joins area schools

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

When artist-in-residence Nancy Tieken-Lopez was in elementary school, not everything made sense in the classroom.

In fact, many tasks were a challenge and frustrating for her. But when she entered into the art room, she felt immediately at ease in an environment where she could succeed.

Tieken-Lopez is dyslexic, and this learning disorder was a source of discomfort when she was a young student, until she found her talents in art, which seemed to help her solve problems in other areas of her life.

“My elementary art teacher played an important part of my direction in life,” Tieken-Lopez said. “That really helped me motivate towards my goal. When I was young, I felt very proud of creating and I felt like I could do that very well.”

Today, as an aspiring professional artist, Tieken-Lopez is actively pursuing her theory that kids might miss out on their talents if they don’t have that background or outlet at an early age. She is an artist-in-residence for Arts For the Schools at Glenshire and Kings Beach Elementary Schools. Her program is a sequential arts program for children in grades 3 and 5 and begins with artistic fundamentals and builds to include works by famous and emerging artists and examples of art from other cultures. She has been meeting weekly with each 3rd and 5th grade classroom at those schools since September and will continue throughout the school year.

The lessons emphasize the development of creative expression technical skills and building self-esteem as well as understanding the language of art in terms of line, shape color, texture, balance and form. The students are encouraged to build an appreciation of the cultural and historical foundations of art.

A Texas native who was nurtured in the arts by her family and environment, Tieken-Lopez said she was shocked when she moved to California and realized art and music classes were not a staple for elementary school curriculum.

The Arts for the Schools project in which she participates was made possible by a grant from the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Local artist Cathee St. Clair has been teaching fourth grade students as an artist-in-residence at Truckee and Glenshire Elementary Schools. Arts for the Schools, dedicated to enriching students’ lives through art, expanded its artist-in-residence program to include art instruction at the 3rd and 5th grade level, allowing Tieken-Lopez to continue her experience in art education and instruction and work as a professional artist.

Her own art creations are often multi-media and abstract and include sculpting, bronze casting and the inclusion of poetry and music. Her focus is art in the environment – the inspiration of the landscape and the mixture of the nature’s materials is used throughout her artwork.

“My work is abstract,” Tieken-Lopez said. “With the kids it’s a little more traditional. But I do bring in alternative ideas.

“My theory is the process is more important than the product,” she said. “I want them to use their own problem-solving skills.”

She has the students meet guest artists, learn to critique one another’s work, study art of other cultures and famous/emerging artists.

At the end of the school year Tieken-Lopez is planning an art show for parents and community members to see the young artists’ work.

Since the beginning of the school year she has already noticed her students have expanded their knowledge of the arts and art appreciation, validating her theory that the arts plays a valuable role in young peoples lives.

“Those extra enriching programs offer some students the opportunity to succeed in other subjects,” she said. “There’s a lot of kids out there that have talent. If you give them the opportunity to see if they can flourish through the arts, that’s a wonderful gift for them to be proud of.”


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