SchoolArts Room

Driven by Curiosity

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Feb 10, 2016

Driving home from the Texas Art Education Association conference in Galveston last fall, I made a 

long anticipated stop at a visionary/outsider/self-taught art center and park in Houston. Houston has 

an esteemed reputation as an outsider art mecca and I was decidedly curious to see these installations 

for myself.

The Houston Orange Show Center for Visionary Art was my first stop. This is a house/installation built by Houston postman Jeff McKissack in honor of his favorite fruit. Working alone from 1956 until 1980, he used common building materials and found objects to transform a lot into an architectural maze of walkways, balconies, performance areas and exhibits decorated with mosaics and brightly painted iron figures.  
Right next door to the Orange Show is Smither Park, a creative urban space that is in an ongoing process of being created by artists and other volunteers. There are enclosed and covered areas and performance spaces, backed by an enchanting, meandering mosaic wall made from all kinds of wonderful things, including found objects and pieces of china.  Now I just need to get back to Houston in April to finally witness their delightful Art Car Parade.
I like to think that I am driven by curiosity; I never get tired of seeing and experiencing new places and objects. Isn’t one of our goals as an art teacher is to foster and encourage curiosity in our students? A sense of curiosity leads to engagement, learning, and self-motivation. Think of Alice in Alice in Wonderland and how author Lewis Carroll had her cry out in amazement as her experiences became “curiouser and curiouser.” Instill that curiosity in your students and you are likely to become “curiouser,” too.