Artist in Residence at HHS
Artist in Residence at HHS
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Art often involves math; sometimes, it involves science, and it frequently requires an understanding of history. The interdisciplinary nature of art that is brought to the Hope Public Schools through the Arts in Education program is a side effect of a series of classes taught by Artist in Residence Sue Allen Pico.

Pico is an Arkansa artists who is part of a wide range of arts contributors to the program through the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. She is available to the Hope Public Schools through a grant program in conjunction with the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council.

“I bring something to the subject that is not in the textbooks,” Pico, of Shirley, said as she closed a week of classes at Hope High School with Kendrick Adams’ students.

Pico specializes in creating a realization in students that they can create art.

“Everybody has heard the idea that, ‘You can’t draw,’” she said. “I don’t believe that. Talent is overrated; anybody who practices enough can be good. Perhaps, not Michelangelo; but, they can be good enough to draw.”

Pico put that premise into action through the week with Adams’ first year, first semester students.

“There will be a few that will get excited and continue on,” she said.

For the most part, the week introduces students in classes such as Adams’ high school class to a variety of ideas wrapped in artistic expression. The first part of the week, the students created Native American “dream catchers,” a woven art form. Pico integrated the project with tales from her family’s early settlement in Arkansas from the Dakota Territory.

“Art may be for some students the only success they have in an educational environment,” she said.

Integrating history, math and other academics into the creative process helps to build a foundation for students. Pico likes to lay the foundation and let classroom teachers take over.

“I teach myself out of a job,” she quipped.

The second part of the week in Adams’ class were studies in calligraphy and cartooning; diverse, yet related art forms.

“I wanted her to teach something that I hadn’t taught,” Adams said.

Pico also teaches self-discipline while students enjoy the different art forms.

“They have to follow instructions in using the calligraphy pens; they have to do the measuring, because if they don’t, their work will show it,” she said. “If they get lazy, it will show up.”

Calligraphy requires specific movement and focused attention, while cartooning requires an attention to placement and consistency, both of which instill aspects of self-discipline.