Jen Lehe

About Jen Lehe

Jen Lehe is CMA's Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

Slow Down. Find Wonder.

Everything around us is an opportunity for wonder and curiosity. Slow noticing is all you need to unlock this power.

Right now there’s a proliferation of resources for learning at home, and for taking care of ourselves through the challenges of this moment. Paradoxically, efforts to help us through this time can overwhelm.

Recently I had a reminder that sometimes the simplest strategies are what we need. That is why we are sharing our most fundamental, simplest strategy for slowing down and really looking. It can be an entry point into an investigation that can last five minutes or a lifetime. It can also be a gift of being present with just our own senses.

ODIP – Observe, Describe, Interpret & Point to Evidence – is the basis of how we explore art, and it works for looking at *anything.*  From portraits to pine cones to political cartoons, this routine helps you to carefully notice, describe thoroughly and without interpretation, and then consider many possibilities. Here’s the basic process:

1)  Look closely, in silence, for one minute. Start by letting your eye land wherever it is drawn, and then let it pass over every part of the piece. Take in as many details as you can. If you feel you’ve “noticed everything,” try just zooming in on one quarter of the object at a time and work your way clockwise.

2)  Share what you notice (or write if you’re looking alone). Be sure to only share observations, not what you think they mean.

3)  Once you have shared many observations (and listened to the observations of others if you are in a group), begin to weave them together to shape a possible interpretation – What might be going on here, and what makes me say that?

Close by looking again at the object. Notice how it seems different now that you have gone through this process.

Teachers, if you want a more in-depth look at how you might use this in instruction, you can check this link.  You can use this to:

  Cultivate mindfulness
  Support observation and reasoning with evidence – core competencies for any discipline
–  Freshly consider familiar objects
–  Approach a perspective that is unfamiliar or might be uncomfortable to you
  Build habits of critical thinking over snap judgement interpretations
  Notice the world more deeply to inform your own creativity.

By slowing down and looking in a different way, we can nurture curiosity, imagination, and mindfulness, and the ability to suspend judgements and interpretations that can block us from considering points of view that are different from our own. How amazing is that? And you don’t need an app to do it.

– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

 

Back-to-School Creativity Resources for Teachers

Looking for some Back-to-School inspiration? We rounded up a few of our favorite resources for sparking creativity and supporting a culture of imagination.

Although CMA has reopened to visitors, teacher programs – like many of your classrooms – remain virtual. This presents opportunities to get creative about building community when we are apart.

#myCMAStudio – These playful prompts are versatile ways to spark creativity at any age, using materials you are likely to have around the house – like junk mail, scrap fabric, or old magazines. 

This Creativity at Home resource packet was developed by artist, art teacher, and champion for creativity, Jason Blair. It’s full of prompts well suited for elementary-aged kids, and can be undertaken in as little at 10 minutes, or could become the basis of a long-term project.

CMA’s ODIP process (Observe, Describe, Interpret & Point to Evidence) is a teacher favorite for looking at all kind of things – from natural materials to primary sources to news websites’ “front pages.” 

Remember that nurturing a culture of creativity is about more than just prompts for imagination, critical thinking, and making. CMA collaborated with teachers to create these lists of actions that support deep learning. Print them and post them wherever you plan and lead instruction.

Finally, we asked our two teacher co-leads for Cultivating Creative & Civic Capacities for some virtual-friendly, back-to-school community builders. Here’s what they shared:
From Britanie Risner: “Since we won’t be in person, I am going to start off asking them to create a Self-Portrait Without a Face. Include
– someone or something you love,
– Someone or something that makes you smile
– Something that represents how you feel
– Something that you want us to know
“I’m also going to experiment with physically mailing students prompts to create and send/share with classmates. For example, making postcards to send each other.”

From Jason Blair: “The ‘I Come From…’ poem is a powerful experience to create a sense of community and belonging. This poem is inspired by a collaboration with artist Stephanie Rond. As we begin a year of challenging, unknown, and at times even scary, this can be a way to develop a space of risk taking, vulnerability and perspective taking that can set the foundation for the C4 journey. This can be done in person or virtually. In person, give the students time to write their answers. Read one at a time.
I Come From…
• 1 Favorite article of clothing
• 2 Best memory
• 3 least favorite memory
• 4 What keeps you up at night
• 5 What calms you
• 6 Makes your blood boil
• 7 Defining moment
• 8 Favorite time of day
• 9 Best feeling
• 10 makes you smile
• 11 makes you cry
• 12 3 words that describes you
• 13 (a powerful adjective)_____________
• 14 (a color) ___________
“Tell the students to write only their answer to the lines as you read them. Then, ask them to fill in the final line, “I am all (write powerful adjective)______ and (write color)________ ?” Talk to the students about comfort level and risk-taking prior to this experience. Once the students are finished writing their poem, again, talk about vulnerability and lead by example by reading your own I Come From… poem. The way you read the poem is as follows.
I come from…
Read answer to #1
I come from…
Read answer to #2
And on and on.
The poem ends by reading this line.
I am all (#13 powerful adjective) and (#14 color) and it has made me who I am!
“After, have the students snap like a poetry reading as opposed to clapping. The intimacy of the poem lends itself more to snapping as a sign of appreciation and letting the reader know, you see them, you hear them, you value them and their journey.”

– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

 

Show Us Your Butter Art

Butter art

We’re missing the State Fair, and we bet you are, too. Why not create a little of that Fair festivity by trying your hand at creating a butter sculpture inspired by art from Columbus Museum of Art? Here’s Elizabeth’s creation, inspired by Barbara Hepworth’s “Family of Man” in our sculpture garden.

Visit the galleries for inspiration, then create your butter masterpiece at home and share your #buttercreativity with #myCMAatHome on social media. We’ll share our favorite butter re-creations. Who knows, this might become a new family summer tradition!

Check out this video for tips on making a butter sculpture. 

Want more ideas to get creative? Check out #myCMAStudio, a digital version of our drop-in Open Studio program. This month’s themes are all around food.

– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

Cultivating Creative and Civic Capacities

On March 5, a remarkable group of public school teachers from across central Ohio convened at the Columbus Museum of Art. We explored how creativity can help us not only to solve problems, but to better identify and understand them. We didn’t know that less than ten days later CMA and the schools would suspend in-person experiences, and that we would all be facing a fresh set of problems in need of better understanding and solutions. 

One thing that makes this group so remarkable is its shared commitment: this is the group of educators who comprise the Cultivating Creative & Civic Capacities collaboration between the Columbus Museum of Art, Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, and Battelle. 

Nearly 40 teachers from several districts, elementary through high school, have come together over the course of the year to explore how to teach for an unknown world. Through experiences at the museum and in their own classrooms, we are all investigating how to cultivate imagination, critical thinking, and agency in a complex world. 

At no moment in my life has it been clear how absolutely crucial it is to foster these dispositions in our youth and our teachers. Moreover, it is clear that the work of creative and empathetic world-building should inspire and empower teachers to articulate and manifest this bold vision. 

When CMA launched C4, we did not know that a global pandemic would soon spotlight the tenuousness, complexity, and interconnectedness of our lives and social systems, and demand a radical reimagination of public life. However, we did know that we were already confronting complex global and local challenges demanding completely new approaches. We knew that we needed creativity – the process of using imagination and critical thinking to generate new ideas of value. We knew that we needed to illuminate how creativity and civic-mindedness interact to shape the worlds we want to live in. 

To find, understand, and address the challenges of the world we must wonder, imagine, and act guided by questions of “why,” “for whom,” “for when and where.” In other words, we must act at the intersection of the creative and the civic.

We don’t have “the answers” but we’re investigating the questions together. So much about our investigation so far this year has been about learning together – physically together – as collaborative partners. Then March yanked the collective rug out from all of us. Like all of you, we asked How we could connect while apart? How might we turn this challenge into an opportunity? What do we need at this moment of uncertainty, fear, distance, and civic crisis?

As artists have always done, we stepped into the ambiguity with a spirit of purposeful experimentation. We launched our first virtual gathering by closely looking at a work of art in CMA’s collection,  Lunch by George Tooker, which evokes isolation and social power. Using the chat window, we wrote a collaborative poem inspired by the work. 

We then considered “repair” as a creative and civically-relevant act. Jason Blair, a public school art teacher and co-lead on the C4 project, showed us examples from kintsugi, the Japanese art of resealing broken pottery using gold so that it becomes more beautiful for having been broken. He also showed more whimsical examples of transformative repair, such as Dispatchwork, the brainchild of artist Jan Vormann in which people all over the globe use Legos to fill in cracks in buildings and sidewalks. We then challenged the group to take a “noticing stroll” around our homes or (safely) in public spaces, searching for broken things to repair in ways that give them new value. You can browse their repairs on Twitter. Some of our repairs were restorations or upcycles, acts of sustainability. We fixed zippers instead of replacing sweaters. We turned wooden pallets into herb gardens. Some transformative “repairs” were designed to put some joy into public spaces, like a tree wrapped in festive rainbow ribbon and a guerilla gardening project in a crummy curb-side patch. We asked and acted on questions at the intersection of creative and civic: “What if? How might we? Why? For whom? What else?” 

Next, we have challenged ourselves to prompt others to play in the creative and civic space: Inspired by CMA’s participatory, in-gallery engagement and past C4 experiences, teachers will create bingo cards, menus, and other playful tools to engage an audience in creativity toward positive civic ends.

There is much repair, healing, and reimagination ahead of us, both in response to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and in response to all the challenges (visible and invisible) we were confronting before COVID19 hit the shores of our species. If we are to get through this, and be stronger for it, we will need to collectively cultivate and activate our creative and civic capacities. I am proud to work with educators committed to doing just that.

– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

 

Celebrating Teachers

Teacher Appreciation

CMA’s 2017 Leaders for Creativity teacher fellows, Patrick Callicotte, Emily Reiser, and Becky Coyne, making a creativity public service announcement.

At CMA we embrace artists as models of creativity. Artists embrace the ambiguity that is a given in life, they ask “what if?” and “how can this be different and better?” They experiment and persist through vulnerability to courageously bring new ideas into the world. This describes teachers, as well. Amazing artists and amazing teachers stimulate our curiosity and connect us to something bigger than ourselves. They help us see things we’ve never seen and help us wonder our way into the future.

Across our communities, teachers continue to foster creativity while learning new ways of being – and educating – in these strange times. As ever, teachers set an inspiring example of how to turn a challenge into an opportunity. In these past weeks, we have seen incredible innovation, courage, and imagination. We’ve seen teacher-led drives to provide their kids with supplies and meals, safely-distanced parades through students’ neighborhoods, grassroots resource-sharing for online instruction, social media exchanges about how to support the social-emotional needs of children and families, and critical reflection on what matters most in education. We are seeing creativity – critical imagination applied to building new worlds. Teachers are modeling and cultivating creativity even as many of them grapple with technological challenges, the logistical and psychological strain of caregiving in a crisis, and the heartbreak (yes, I’ve heard just this word from numerous teachers) of not knowing when they will see their students next.

As many parents are discovering as they navigate crisis schooling at home, learning is not “content delivery.” Learning is an ecosystem that requires intentional nurturing. This week, and every week, let’s remember that teacher appreciation is about gratitude for so much more than the noble decision to enter the field. It’s about respect for an incredibly challenging profession that demands empathy and alchemy, expertise and humility, courageous curiosity, remarkable patience, and so much more. Teachers, thank you. There are many, many hugs and high fives waiting for you on the other side of this.

– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

Learn at Home Creativity Challenges

Learn at Home Creativity Challenges

At Columbus Museum of Art we love collaborating with teachers. It is so exciting to see the remarkable ways that educators support purposeful learning, and we love to amplify the amazing practices happening in contexts all over our communities. In this time of #learnfromhome, we’ve been sharing just some of these exciting ideas to cultivate creativity with #teach4creativity and #myCMAatHome – if you are a teacher, we invite you to use those hashtags on twitter to find ideas and to share how you are sparking imaginative and critical thinking.

We are also sharing a resource packet developed by artist, art teacher and CMA’s first teacher-in-residence, Jason Blair. Jason has been one of CMA’s thought-partners for years, first by joining and later helping lead our Teaching for Creativity initiatives. 

When Ohio schools moved to online instruction, Jason was ready with these dynamic ways families can foster creativity. Each week we will share one of his creativity challenges on Twitter, and you can find the whole resource packet here

While Jason’s audience is children learning at home, you may find these challenges are a great family bonding experience – or a fun way to add interest to your next Zoom happy hour! 

What is a creativity challenge?

What: Creativity challenges are short prompts inviting imagination. They are often playful or contain unexpected juxtapositions (e.g. Design a feast for dragons). Creativity challenges are generally meant to be completed quickly (5 to 10 minutes) so that no one feels too intimidated to create. However, you might also think about how to build on a challenge prompt, especially if the creators want to take the idea further.

Why: As a recurring routine, especially when coupled with regular reflection, creativity challenges foster a culture of creative thinking and problem solving. They are quick and often fun; whimsical prompts set an unintimidating tone to help people “dive in.” Over time, they help people build comfort with ambiguity. While playful, challenges prompt us to do a lot of wondering and figuring out, and push us to represent ideas in different ways.

How: Begin with a collection of prompts (some Creativity Challenges can be found at makingcreativityvisible.edublogs.org) and open-ended, non-precious materials such as clean recyclables and scraps from craft projects. Keep work time short to emphasize that this is to be a draft rather than a finished product. Over time, you and others will get the hang of what makes a good challenge and you can devise your own.

For more about creativity challenges, including downloadable lists of prompts, check out CMA’s Making Creativity Visible resources site.

– Jen Lehe is CMA’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships, overseeing programs for learners throughout their lives. Jen directed the IMLS-funded Making Creativity Visible initiative and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. Jen holds an Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Photography from NYU. When she’s not at CMA, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.