SchoolArts Room

Autumn in Vermont at the 2015 VATA Conference

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Oct 23, 2015

As a keynote speaker for the Vermont Art Teachers Association conference in Burlington and Shelburne, I was delighted to see some fall color. Here in Texas in the fall, most of our leaves just turn brown and fall off.





These first two photos were taken at the Shelburne Museum and the Shelburne Farm. The first day of the conference took place in the Museum's beautiful education center (photo below).
This is the award given to the Vermont Art Educator of the Year. The winner is supposed to add more to it for the next winner. I thought that was a great idea.
I first presented on one of my favorite topics: Art Saves Lives. It is about art based social justice projects such as Pinwheels for Peace and the Memory Project.
When I present at conferences, I try to attend as many sessions as I can. Willow Bascom gave a fantastic workshop on molas, reverse appliquéd and embroidered fabric pieces that were originally used a blouses by the San Blas people who live off the northern coast of Panama.
Willow had lived in Panama so she was very knowable about the culture and had a variety of examples of their uses. She has also written and illustrated a book and other publications about molas.
After Willow's introduction, participants used felt to make their own molas. Felt or paper works better as students can more easily cut the material and it can be glued together rather than sewn.
Willow wrote and illustrated this lovely book and you can order it from her at
Willow also share carved wooden dolls and beaded arm and leg bands from the San Blas people.
The second day of the conference focused on the celebration of the Days of the Dead. I gave an overview then the participants had the opportunity to make all kinds of decorations for ofrendas and to taste Mexican hot chocolate and Day of the Dead bread. I'm so glad that these art teachers are sharing the true meaning of this holiday with their students. It is a time of family reunions, special foods, and sharing memories of loved ones who have died.
Here on the bottom right you can see some of the homemade Day of the Dead bread and a memorial to Frida Kahlo near the center.
Thanks so much to the VATA for inviting me and making sure I saw some fall color!