Sunday, February 21, 2010

Safe Space

I try to hold myself back from responding to every reflection, what-if scenario, or interview question relating back directly to my work as an RA, but it's such an all inclusive job that has influenced me in nearly every situation. I come at this week's blog with the perspective of someone who has been in the role of being in charge of/guiding/mentoring groups of 30-50 young females in the dorms. I have had students come and share many confidential things with me, and thus my best guesses as to how i'd handle things in the classroom is a result of how I have dealt with situations in the past.

If a student "came out" to me, I would first thank them for trusting me and reassuring them that what they told me would not be repeated to others without their permission. I would ask them if there was anything i could do for them to support them, classroom atmosphere etc.. If the student hadn't come out to their family and friends, I would suggest they consider why they hadn't, and how they could come to the point of being open to that idea in order to be honest with the most important people in their life. Depending on the school or community, I could ask or recommend counseling if the student was interested, if they wanted to share with someone else.

As far as making sure my art room was a safe space, I would encourage students to carry themselves with an attitude of acceptance. In the dorms, I have done a lot of passive programming (bulletin boards, bathroom stall fliers etc) that educate students on how to use accepting language and how to avoid offending someone-intentionally or accidentally). Hanging a safe space sign could help students identify me as someone they can trust (interesting side note, the Department of Residence at UNI offers training sessions on safe space allies, but they created their own logo...I don't know if it was part of a national trend? but perhaps the pink triangle is changing? does anyone know?). In the chapter we read for this topic, there were many instances of teachers not defending students, or stopping offensive language or behavior. I would hope that I would never fall into that behavior myself and that I would stop harassment if/when it occurred in my presence, classroom, or school.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Through extensive traveling in central and south America, I have often experienced the feeling of being the minority. I'm considered a blond in Chile and stick out like a sore thumb, I've had vendors insist on communicating with me in their very poor broken English because they couldn't fathom my ability to speak Spanish, and I have felt the attention of a pale skinned young woman in a Latino community.

However the time in my life that has stuck with me the most as being treated differently or with less respect occurred on my beloved UNI campus. I am a resident assistant on campus, and hold this title with pride. Part of our job includes being health aids, so I am and have been certified in health aid and CPR for 3 years. I am trained to respond to medical emergencies in a variety of settings.

One day I was studying in the tables upstairs in Maucker Union when I noticed strange behavior from a woman in the CME. She did not appear responsive, and as someone tapped on her shoulder I knew medical help was needed. I tried to come to the aid of this worker, who clearly did not have training and did not know what to do. Quickly a group of adults appeared, called 911 and began to try to figure out what to do with this woman. I tried repeatedly to tell them the appropriate steps to care for her and place her to get blood pumping but everyone was in a panic and ushered me out saying that "the adults have it under control" and "we don't need to create a spectacle".

I was infuriated that they would not listen to me due to their conception that as a youth I could not possibly know how to help, even though I had repeatedly told them I was certified. I was kept at bay outside of the office space until paramedics arrived and immediately wrapped her in a blanket, and had her lay down on the couch, just as I had been trying to direct the adults to do.

Luckily the situation was not dangerously serious, and the medics were able to help her. However that day I felt completely undervalued as a young person and felt a great deal of indignation and anger that they had incorrectly judged me. This was discrimination based on age, and has not been ongoing in my life, nor is it the harshest example I have heard of, but it provoked the upset emotions of discrimination that are vivid to me to this day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Artist Trading Cards

I grew up as an avid NBA card collector. My show and tell in 5th grade made all the boys jealous. Last semester I started reclaiming the hundreds of cards I had stored away; using them as a surface to print on. Now, I have eons of cool, altered, ex-NBA, now-ARTier, cards that make a great starting point for ATCs. Each one has a little piece of me; especially the most recent addition of the King Tut card. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week 4: scoping an audience lesson plan

Of the various scenarios and concepts present in the scoping the audience section of In the Making,1.h "Relating to the Audience: Indignation"stands out as the activity I have chosen. It discusses leaving behind art making that is strictly comforting and pleasant to look at and rather to delve into issues and topics that are unsettling or downright outrageous. I would encourage my students to look into current events; through magazines, newspapers etc. and find a story that evokes a strong emotion to them. Once they have considered, and written down how the story makes them feel, they would make a work of art that reflects those feelings in tandem with the issue that "warants inciting indignation". At this point, I believe it would be interesting to have them create mixed media collage that could incorporate images or text from new sources as well as their own personal drawing and color theory in the form or paint or print or however they feel they can best evoke the feelings of indignation.