WKU International Reach to Cuba

ArtLiteracy Cuba Poster HighRes

International College of Arts and Letters

This comparative cross-cultural inquiry of arts integration with language literacy involves two international partner countries, Cuba and Ghana. The project partners are Dr. Mariama Ross, Associate Professor of Art Education at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana and Dr. Juan Silvio Cabrera, Coordinator of Crearte project and the College Dean of Social Science and Humanities at University of Pinar del Rio, Cuba.

Ms. Sandra Carter, Warren Central High School art teacher and WKU Art Education alumnus is the key partner with WKU Art Education Program as we collaboratively explore the positive impact of the intrinsic relationship between the visual arts and literacy.  We believe art is a language of visual images that everyone must learn to read.  We also believe any language we speak begins with a mental and imaginative picture in our minds. Therefore, complete literacy includes the ability to understand, respond to, talk about, and create visual images.

A semester long pilot study has been concluded in the Fall 2013 semester.  Each WKU Art Education pre-service teachers partnered with one or two ART 1 student at Warren Central High School to create a collaborative art project. Their collaborative art began with understanding big ideas from the book they read together as they problem solve their way into the studio process. Upon completion of the artwork, each student wrote a letter to their Cuban pen pal partner about their experience of collaborative art making and the lessons they have learned.

 Project Read: Art and Literacy Side by Side

Art and Literacy Side by Side is a collaborative arts and letters project based on the meta-research Studio Thinking Project (2004) by Lois Hetland, E. Winner, S. Veenema, and K. Sheridan at Harvard University. According to the Studio Thinking framework, there are eight habits of minds that are the REAL benefits of Art in the schools because they transfer to the habits of learning in other subject areas that will help students succeed. This lateral interdisciplinary connection of Art and Literacy Side by Side project includes creating collaborative art projects, creative relay writing and bookmaking with P-12 pre-service art teachers and select P-12 students.

Project Cuba: “Crecer con las Artes, Grow with the Arts”

This project is an outgrowth of 2013 Potter College Faculty Research Grant, Cuban Art Teachers and the Cultures of the SchoolMs. Sandra Carter and I traveled to Cuba in February – March 2013 to visit the schools and meet the educators in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. The subsequent return to Cuba during the WKU Spring break provided me with a further opportunity to meet the Cuban students and faculty to solidify the arts and letters exchange project. In the Fall 2013, Warren Central High School ESL students also participated in the pen pal project.

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