Paula Benfer

Printmaking, Batik, Collage/Assemblage

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Teaching Artist Statement

I enjoy interdisciplinary approaches blending a variety of mediums, incorporating cultural influences with creativity. I embrace the joy of all ages with experience teaching K-adult. I have designed classes for regional art centers, residencies in schools, summer workshops for adults or children, clubs and churches, aging populations, and diverse communities.

Explore and Nurture Creativity in the classroom

Through my art, I let the students “get to know me” and build trust. I encourage them to dialogue and reflect with me. I try to select appropriate media, adapt processes to grade levels, and trust the classroom teacher to guide me as to the student needs, interests, and past experiences. I select an approach which allows them to be creative: frequently, I pull from them, so they personalize their work so it becomes a reflection of their own ideas.
The mediums I select are varied, and often blended. I break things down into processes which guide the student learning. I reflect and adapt along the way to make sure students feel guided and confident without interfering.
I use humor and approach students playfully so they are not afraid to try or to “make mistakes. I find something in their work to use as a bridge to take them to more exploration. I treat them like artists and treat their work as art.

Residency Projects

• Acting Like Artists -Teaching children that artists: experiment, plan, practice and communicate their own voices. Varied mediums were used.
• Art from Many Cultures -Exposing children to art from Mexico, Japan, Africa, and Australia: teaching respect for all humanity, traditional art forms, design, and process.

• Animal Totems/ Doodems -Benton County 4H workshop explored MN indigenous cultures, studied the meaning of Doodems, attributed traits of animals to our own personalities, created personal symbols and created using copper tooling.
• I Am the Light of My Community’s Future -6th grade population studied community service and citizenship, symbolism of light and new beginnings, created suns and drew symbols for their community, worked together to create six large stained glass mosaics mounted in school entrances and organized a community dedication.

• Grab Your Hat & Let's Go -Recalling moments and memories through art exploration around the theme of “hats!” The curriculum may be used by partners in homes, in group residences, or in locations where people gather and form social communities. It may be useful to those in early stages of memory loss. Topics may be useful to home health care givers, family members, and friends who are searching for activities that can be done together and feel isolation. View the presentation
• Where Have You Been? -Building on common experiences with “shoes” to view art works, reinforce memories, explore cultures, encourage communication, and stimulate creativity. To be used by partners at home, care facilities, senior centers, church groups, or social groups. It is appropriate for all aging populations, but small children could participate, building relationships. View the presentation

• Memorials and Monuments -Using images of art in public places to consider why memorials and monuments are placed in our culture. Raising questions: of placement, value, meaning, ownership, audience reaction and historic influence. Discussion is encouraged, audiences are asked to consider and view points are open to interpretations. View the Presentation
• Perspectives Through Black American Eyes- Uses historic and contemporary images created by Black American Artists. Audiences share interpretations and reflect on questions that may encourage more information gathering. View the Presentation