Global Collaboration Day: Friends Academy Global Draw

Hello There. You have arrived!

This is the place where you will find art made by artists from all over the world someday, but currently, just the USA.
Do you want to take part in the Friends Academy Global Draw?
If yes, then click on this highlighted link to the Google presentation. It is there where you will find all you need to know about joining the art making fun.
Basically, our idea is based on offering up a simple drawing direction to the world and seeing where people take it. Like how we perceive the prompt and allow our creative minds to work with it. The images below were made based on a simple direction to divide a square into 3 rectangles, color the larger one blue and the two smaller triangles any other colors.We named it “out of the blue, a rainbow is born“. Each group assembled their individual designs into a larger whole while keeping in mind how they would tessellate, or connect, to make a cohesive design. View the phots that were shared below. You may see stripes, diamonds, zig zags. What will you create?


Made by Fifth Grade Truth @ Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY, USA


Made by Fifth Grade Logic @ Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY, USA


Heather Stanich
Made by Heather Stanich and Oswego East High School, Oswego, IL, USA. They also sent in process photos of how the final collaboration was born. Being aware of the artistic process helps us understand how our ideas are born. Do you enjoy viewing artists in action? View the process photos below.

Stanich 1

View the assembling in action above. It involves a discussion of ideas and the ability to change and start again.


Shannon Timoney
Made by Shannon Timoney and grades 4, 5, and 6 at Peconic Community School in Aquebogue, NY, USA


Madison Beasley
Made by Madison Beasley and University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA


Donna Tremblay
Made by Donna Tremblay and David R. Cawley Middle School, Hooksett, NH,  USA


Made by Ms. Coopers fourth grade at Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY, USA


More to come. Stay with us! 

Mary Jo



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Aaaaaand… we’ve got a hashtag! Thanks to Karen Blumberg. She is brilliant!

#FACEYOURSELF. Learn it. Live it. USE IT!

Day Two: An outdoor experience in full sun with music and college students chillin’ on the quad. (I’m so hip like a 20 something, I use the term “chillin'”)

first time portrait for you mythological abstract keepin' it real neutral cubist mythological in blue neutral abstract cubist in red realism

What do YOU see?

I have discovered that each portrait does look a bit like each individual. I’m convinced our brain does it automatically. I believe we are programmed to see what we want to see. Do you?

The interactive dials and switches and pom pom punch holes allow you to program your portrait. The choices are:


Basically, there are a number of different groupings you can create. Is anyone out there eager to take on an Algebraic equation to figure it out? It would be considered Algebra, right? You just let me know.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed your visit. Stay tuned for the next siting of….#FACEYOURSELF.



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FACE YOURSELF: The Programmable Portrait Portal


Have you ever been inspired to do something far beyond your comfort zone? Like taking a wild chance or using your body in a way that is just not common for you?
I have.
Lately, I have been curious about human communication and connectedness and all that stuff that makes up the way we interact and the way we feel about interacting. You know, like our interpersonal intelligence.

I am also deeply intrigued by the idea of the mask. The way a disguise can offer you a special power that your body just can’t fulfill on its own. I am convinced that if we walked around being aware of our best selves, we would all be superheroes. Everyday.

cubist in red

I want to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I want others to see themselves as beautiful. So, I decided to put myself out there and draw people. This would force me to be myself and talk to strangers. This would allow me to create art that will, hopefully, help you SEE your natural beauty.

My friend, Joy, introduced me to videos of the Face-O-Mat. It was built by artist, Tobias Gutmann as a portrait making machine. Tobias’ machine was created to comment on how we are obsessed with machines. The videos on his website inspired me to do something with my own twist.

photo 4 (1)

With Tobias’ blessing: “Go for it and Go WILD!”, I built one. A programmable portrait portal, that is.
We named it: FACE YOURSELF.

Here are some photos of Day One:

That’s me, drawing with my glasses on so I see everyone’s face with clarity.



Here are a few goddesses who accepted fame on this post. Thank you to all who shared their beauty with me and were open to a new experience.

warm cubist goddess


Are you intrigued about how it works? Well, then you will need to stop by Stony Brook University on Wednesday, August 26. Visit again to find out where FACE YOURSELF with be in the future.

Stay Tuned.



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What is the role of the Art Display?

Each year the National Art Educators Association holds a conference for educators from around the country to come together and share great ideas. This year’s theme is The Art of Design

The conference, this year held in New Orleans, will take place over 3 days and include thousands of opportunities for shared dialogue and meaning making.


I have a passion to share: It involves the role of the art display. You know, the stunning masterpieces that live on the walls of schools, dress up art galleries and also share space on your refrigerator.

My question is grounded in the choices we make when curating an art exhibition and the message we are communicating through what we choose to display. I like to include process photos:


So much magic happens in the art studio everyday, and I want the world to know it. Every picture tells a story and, along with written summaries and student anecdotes, adding these to our art exhibitions will help educate the public about the powerful role the arts play in the development of the whole child.

This year, at NAEA 2015, I will be presenting on this topic. If you are at all curious, feel free to download PDF: TheInteractiveArtDisplay2015

Hang your child’s art with pride,
xoxo -MJ

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Zooming In


Artist Georgia O’Keefe once said “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.” Her most famous works are large scale flower portraits. Georgia zoomed in on each flower and illustrated their form to help us witness the fine detail and beauty in this tiny living thing.


While observing the life of a paperwhite for a three week period of time, students documented the growth through time-lapse photography as well as observational drawing. Students looked closely and created a contour line drawing each week for three weeks in an accordion-style book and wrote about their observations.


We were careful to place the table line and jar in the same place on each page so that the viewer had context of size and growth from a baby bulb to a 2. 5 foot tall blossom (yes, we are scientists and recorded measurements too).


Enter IMAGINATION. We observed Georgia’s flower portraits and noted on her zoomed-in approach. Using our knowledge of flower petals and our imagination, we developed our own petal and created a personal flower portrait that illustrated our understanding of cropping and zooming in.









We used ink to make our drawing more defined. We work slow and practice mindfulness when using this permanent material.


We noticed how Georgia had knowledge of warm and cool color families. We choose one family to incorporate into our petal spaces and our blossom was born.


We explored mixing the colors that Crayola manufactured for us to invent our own warm and cool creations. If we didn’t like a shade, we changed it. We practice perseverance.

photo (10)

We take pride in our creations.

The next time you spot a blossom, prove Georgia wrong and STOP and see the flower. Feel it, smell it. Savor it. Life is beautiful.




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Embracing Ambiguity: Understanding the Growth Mindset

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a little bit helpless and a little bit unsure? That’s good.

What?! Really?

Yes. It is good. Guess what? You don’t have the answers to all of your problems and when you are able to embrace an awareness of that fact, and let it sit for a while, you are creating the causes for creativity to be born.

When I am faced with a problem, my first response is to solve it. Give me that quick fix so I can attach the bandaid, wipe my hands clean and move on. My mother is infamous for preempting her response with “Here’s what you need to do…” and it drives me insane. Most likely because I see a little bit of that in myself, and because I wish she could just listen and let things be. There is a theory that states when people come to you with a problem, it is helpful to that person if you simply listen and let them know that you understand their feelings. In a TED talk and a new online course, Brene Brown shares that having empathy means being strong enough to just be with someone where they are. No judgment, no sharing advice or “how to”, just an ability to be in that space, whatever it may be, with another for a while. The unsettling, ambiguous and often helpless emotion you may experience is HUMAN.

           So, wait, how is this connected to a Growth Mindset?


photo (9)In Creative Confidence, Tom and David Kelley claim that a fundamental prerequisite for developing creative confidence is the belief that our capabilities for innovation are not set in stone, not fixed. They suggest that as “analytical thinkers, an unresolved issue hanging in the air is uncomfortable.” And in those situations, is it the uncomfortable feeling that drives us to search for and offer the quick fix. Creative thinkers who exercise a Growth Mindset recognize that there are many possible solutions and have the courage to utilize an open mind, thinking big and wide first. This helps them to become aware of a number of possibilities before settling on a single idea. People who have a growth mindset are comfortable to wade in the pool of uncertainty. They are willing to just be where they are for a while.

So, the next time you are faced with a situation that brings up these unsettling emotions that make you feel helpless or unsure, try to pause and notice what you are feeling. Know that these emotions are human. Get pumped for this new opportunity, a challenge to swim in the unknown. Think of it simply as an experiment to see where it will take you. Reflect on the experience. And then tell someone about it.



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Collaborative Art Making with Rangoli

“Saal Mubarak to All! May your new year be filled with good health, happiness and love”.
I was inspired by this proclamation recently shared via social media by a friend and colleague. What came next was a collaborative art making activity that gave students the opportunity to explore symmetry and design as well as promote cultural awareness.

fifth grade Rangoli

This time of year many celebrate Diwali, the Hindu New Year. The colleague and friend I mentioned above gave a meaningful presentation to our lower school on Diwali this past week. We learned that one of the traditions of this festival of lights is making Rangoli and placing your creation at your doorstep to greet and welcome visitors to your home.

rangoli w/color frame

After learning so much about Diwali, we were inspired to create our own Rangoli in the art studio. Traditionally colored sand and glitters are used to create these symmetrical assemblages, but we decided to use nature (and a few artist-made objects too).

forest mandala

Students worked collaboratively to construct their designs. We discussed the Quaker Decision-Making Process and were reminded that EVERYONE has a voice and that it is our role to make sure we all have the opportunity to share our ideas. We discussed how the group is stronger than the individual and that communicating with each other will help the art making experience to be productive and positive for all involved.

placement is key

I heard students discuss which materials to use and where to place them. Objects were re-arranged to compromise the groups design choices. Young artists were motivated to make this a fun and successful activity and positive thoughts and compliments were bursting like fireworks.

In the midst of it all I heard a student share this anecdote : “We all work together on it and that’s the best part.”

nature assemblage

After our assemblages were complete, we took the time to reflect on our efforts and share with the class. We shared our process, revealed hidden meanings and asked questions to clarify ideas.

caran d'ache mandala

The next day, we discussed the mathematics behind forming a symmetrical design. We began in the center and added lines and shapes around the center in an outward motion to expand our design. We shared strategies for maintaining the symmetry in our design.

caran d'ache rangoli

We chose a family of colors to bring our design to life and thought about how they could help support our need for symmetry in our Rangoli design.


Why would a square piece of paper be a good choice to create a circular design on?
What colors would you include in your design?
What image would you place in the center of your design?
What does your Rangoli design say about you as an artist/thinker?

Saal Mubarak to All!
-Ms. Allegra

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