fierston printing a carp

Arts integration residencies in the schools run from three days to three weeks, with groups from 25 to 300 students. Teachers and I work together to integrate visual arts into lessons that support current state standards. I work with kids from third to eighth grades and specialize in middle schools.

I’m a teaching artist with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland. Teachers and I fund these residencies through a combination of grants and school funds and we have won grant support from AHCMC, the Washington Post Arts-in-Education fund and the Piedmont Foundation, among others.

I’m always looking for new ideas.

Here are a few of my latest:

The American Canvas Project

Students paint a 12 x 16 inch acrylic portrait of a historical figure from the first 100 years of American history.  To prepare, they write and compile a research notebook on their historical figure.  Over eight sessions with me, they learn to use color, line and shape to tell the story of their person’s life in a portrait.

Click here to see our blog documenting the project

These are the fifth graders’ interpretations of anger, sadness and springtime color:

Seasonal Cycles: Keeping a Nature Sketchbook

On monthly trips outside, fifth grade students draw, paint and print what they see and collect from the natural world. They make regular observations of plant growth, learn to create scientific illustrations, estimate height of trees using triangulation, and hold a year-end show on phenology, the study of seasonal change.


Gyotaku: Fish Prints by the Chesapeake Bay

Sixth grade science students create direct prints of Bay fish on rice paper and t-shirts in the manner of Japanese fishermen and artists in this three-day workshop.

Visions of Utopia

Middle school students in English classes use watercolor crayons and acrylic paint to create their own visions of utopia based on their readings in this eight to twelve-day workshop.

Mesoamerica: Artifacts from the Maya, Aztec and Olmec Civilizations

Using air-drying clay, 7th grade social studies students create two related artifacts from two of three cultures in this two-week workshop. Using acrylic paint, they paint the artifacts to resemble the original stone, jade, or metal objects and write a paper comparing the two.

Transformation: Utopia to Dystopia

Students create visions of utopia using merino wool as their medium in this three-day workshop. Before students reassemble and transform their utopia into another art piece, a dystopia, we photograph the original work. This project complements the 8th grade study of utopian civilizations in English and social studies.

Twelve Angry Men

Using styrofoam printing plates, students created a print expressing their feelings of justice and injustice after reading and acting in this play.  This three-day eighth grade workshop concluded with a student art exhibit of prints.