Paula Benfer, Visual Arts - Printmaking, Batik, Collage/Assemblage

Paul Benfer

Paula Benfer

Teaching Experience Grades k-12 and Adults

I blend a variety of mediums, incorporating cultural influences with creativity. I enjoy interdisciplinary approaches. Art can stand alone, or focus benchmarks. I respect students. I’m flexible, adaptable, and accountable.

Here are some of the ways I like to explore and nurture creativity:

  • 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…

“Fiber as Metaphor”(6th grade social studies curriculum art standards)
This lesson addresses issues of immigration and uses the art form of batik (wax/dye)

  • Introduction, descriptive review of my work, and batik
  • Interdisciplinary reflection, “I came with only the shirt on my back.”
  • Children’s literature, picture books, artifact games about immigration
  • Collection of classroom stories of ancestors, clothing examples
  • changes in our town, our school.
  • similarities/ differences: common ground
  • Using batik to make “spirit flags”, exhibit as individual, class, or school

“Light in the Community” (cooperative school effort for a permanent stained glass mosaic)
These lessons used art to reinforce classroom learning about citizenship and public service.

  • Introduction, descriptive review of my work using printmaking and batiks of suns and moons
  • Interdisciplinary games focusing on symbolism, student activities using light and talking abou t their community.
  • Examples of community service.
  • Symbols selected by students for community, planets, etc.
  • Designing murals using student images.
  • Cutting stained, gluing, grouting, and finishing murals
  • Creating a student stained glass container for “their light symbol”
  • Community celebration/dedication/open house/ publicity

“ Regionalism, Symbolism, and Parody” (used at 4 th to HS grade level through Printmaking, Painting, or Collage)
These images could “stand alone” or be collected in a book, or attached temporarily as a class quilt.

  • Introduction, descriptive review of my art using batik, printmaking, and assemblage.
  • Introduction of Grant Wood as a regionalist (I was raised in Iowa, “Grant Wood Country”)
  • Discovering parody through “American Gothic”, explore symbolism and regional symbols
  • Creating a composition
  • Executing personal interpretations, practicing critiques, volunteer peer voices
  • Writing artist statements for exhibition

“Animal Totems/Doodems” (any level, many mediums may be used, like printmaking, batik, collage, or copper tooling)
This art lesson fulfills some of MN’s benchmarks to include instruction about local indigenous tribes.

  • Introductions descriptive review of my art using batik, printmaking, and assemblage.
  • Activities from many which use animals as totems/doodems.
  • Exploring traits of individual personality., selection of personal totem/doodem to match.
  • Create a composition of the animal selected
  • Use an art process (see above) to create the animal with selected medium
  • Frame animal, practice peer critique, write an artist statement to display with work.

All projects can be adapted to fit the needs of the class and goals and preferences of the teachers. 

Contact information:

Phone: 763-267-7504


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