Team Results from the La Crosse Regional:
West Salem is moving on to State as the Overall Champ. 
La Crosse Central moves on as the Critical Thinking Champ. 
Onalaska beat out all other teams in the Quiz Bowl.  
Individual students from Tomah, Viroqua, Onalaska, La Crosse Central, and West Salem will advance to the State VAC Competition.
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  • In the drawing category, does an "internal system" mean more that one, or can a student just focus on the heart.  She is reading system as plural.  
For drawing, the prompt is involving plants. It is simply an illustration of the inside of that plant.
  • Drawing lists a maximum size.  Can they work a lot smaller than the maximum size requirements?   I have a student who wants to work with an 9x12 or smaller and the max size is 18x24.
Students can work smaller. The caution is that their piece may not have the same impact of students who work to the maximum size.
  • Can MDF board be used for Painting (very similar to masonite)?
1/4" or ⅛” MDF or masonite board can be used.
  • Painting...Do the students have to draw from life?   Set up an interior space and take a photo?  Or can they find a photo from a magazine that shows interior space lit by natural light and paint that?
I personally would prefer seeing my students finding the space and taking a photo, so they can control the composition and light. It doesn't specify the source of the imagery, but creativity is important for the competition.
  • I have a student who wants to do an interior space that has been lit by fire.  They were wondering if they buy the rights to a photographer's image can they use it as their own work?
 I really think that students should be finding and photographing their natural light interior space . In the tradition Pissaro. he would have been painting directly from his source. This gives students creative ownership of their piece.
  • I had a student ask me about the ceramics prompt.  We are a bit confused by a "scientific study".  I know there are lots of different types of scientific studies out there.  Does it have to be a specific type of scientific study?  Should they be labeling things, or should they focus more on a visual based scientific study?  If you could help clarify this that would be helpful.
The idea of scientific study is to observe a subject and sculpt it in clay. The student will not need to create labels, but the sculpture show how a scientist would pull apart or away layers of the subject to reveal more. In the revealing more, the human element can be exposed. Looking at the Kate McDowell's work it recommended.
  • It says that we cannot use glaze and no paints are on the material list.  Does that mean we are just suppose to have the students make their sculpture out of clay, fire it, and just enter the bisque ware without any color?  That seems really weird to me, but that is how I interpret it.  Let me know what you think of this and what we are suppose to do.
The natural color of the fired clay is used for this prompt. Red and white clay is a great option here. Our grade schools use these clay bodies. If you look at the ceramicist from our artist list, you will see that she works with forms and clay color. There are colored porcelains as well.
  • Is the Ceramics Prompt, basically a mythology project?  When it says anatomically correct...does that mean that if a student wanted to put fingers where the ears of a bunny goes, that is not what the prompt is asking?  Could you provide an example of what it is reference?
We were reference Kate MacDowell when we wrote that question. She would be best for look at for a visual reference. She adds human parts to animals, like a dissected bird with a human skeleton inside. From what I have observed, she places things logically.
  • In the printmaking prompt, can students add man made structures like a swing  for the life cycle of a tree?
I think that trees can have many things added to them through their life cycle, like broken limbs from storms or holes from animal, Why not a swing.
  • Can acrylic gel medium be mixed with the ink for the printmaking prompt?   (does it count as a printmaking media?)
That should be fine as long as it is printed.
  • The sculpture prompt mentions "any suitable sculpture material for the main structure" .  My student was wondering if she could use fabric as some sort of sail on her sculpture.
A fabric sail would fall under system for movement, so fabric would be fine.
  • For sculpture...can a student use flammable material in her sculpture for effect?
The material list refers to "Wood, plastic, metal or other suitable sculpture material for the main structure." Stay with these materials. Flames at competition could cause problems. I know at our regional, the pieces are on display on fabric covered benches. Fire would not be good. The Strandbeests are made from simple materials. I may need more information about the idea to really get to an answer.
  • For sculpture...does she have to take the video or can she have someone else take the video so it's better quality? She doesn't really do much with video and is not confident with her skills in that area.
As far as the video, have her work with someone to learn the process. I teach video, so I was the resource to help my students understand how to create their video on their own. It a great learning opportunity.
Personal Adornment:
  • Is it ok to use card stock to help support a brim of a hat?  Can you use starch?
Is stabilizing structure for display or to wear?  A student wants to make a cowboy hat type project
card stock or starch can work for stabilizing the hat. The hat should be able to be worn easily without combs or ties to secure it to the wearer
  • So the card stock could be covered in fabric to form the brim? Yes
  • I have a student who is interested in using duct tape dyed with dirt or greens for the "fiber" of the personal adornment prompt. I don't think this fits. Do you?
I don't think that Duct Tape would be considered a fiber. Fabric could be fiber, but duct tape is an adhesive. Duct tape could also be the stabilizing structure.
  • On personal adornment, it mentions any stabilizing material.   Does this mean something like wire or cardboard as an underlying structure to glue fabric, or fiber material to?  Or does this mean something like liquid starch to stiffen the yarn or fabric?
For Personal Adornment, wire and cardboard would function well for stabilizing structures.
  • I have a student who is interested in using the study of biolumiance in the creation of her hat.  Is she able to use battery operated lights to create the illusion of luminance?  She was also wondering if the metal she is planning on using for her support structures can be a part of the work itself.
The direction of this prompt is about about dying fiber. Biolumiance would not fit this prompt unless it could be achieved through dying.  The metal could not be anything beyond a structure due to it not being a dye-able fiber.
  • Personal Adornment Question: Can printed fabrics and fake flowers be used? 
For personal adornment stick to dye-able fabric, fiber  or yarn only. That includes no fake flowers unless they are hand dyed and student. made.
Art History:
  • Art History: Paper Max Size is 18 x 24.  Can a student cut up paper and make a collage of her drawings and keep it under that size as part of the creative visual diagram?
For art history, be cautious. I would hesitate to collage with an adhesive not on the material list. The images could be drawn from a collage.
Computer Graphics:
  • Does "Scientific Process" include or be interpreted as a scientific experiment?
Scientific Process is referring to a naturally occurring event such as photosynthesis, digestion, a star being born, etc. A scientific experiment can study a scientific process, but it is not necessarily that process.
Traditional Photography:
  • Traditional Photo- In the materials section it references Black and White film. The kids are creating paper negatives with pin hole cameras and camera obscuras, where does film come in? I have a student who is a little confused on the film incorporation here, if you could clarify I would be most grateful.
You are correct. No film needed.
Digital Photography:
  • Regarding the final graphic, are students allowed to digitally render for the final collage (in addition to the scans & digital photos?
When you say digitally render, do you mean draw with a program? If this is you intent, this would be using a digital tool.
  • I have a student doing digital photography who wants to know if they can use images of light painting within their image
I think that light painting would neatly fall under experimenting with lighting.
  • Digital photography....Is their collage just printed on a normal sized photo paper? 8 1/2 x11?
Good size. Most people will print at 8.5 x 11, but some may print bigger.

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​Visual Arts Classic Workshop

Feb 3 or 4, 2016, 10:30 –11:30 AM

Prepare your Visual Arts Classic team with a docent-guided tour of the 

newly reopened Milwaukee Art Museum! Students will explore the history 

and context of works of art that either relate to or are by artists in the 

competition theme. (Please note: some, but not all of the artists in the 

theme are represented in the Museum’s Collection.) 

Teams are welcome to spend time self-guiding the rest of the Museum at 

the end of their guided tours.

 Grades 9–12

 1 hour

 $5 per student (Teams will pay the museum directly.)

 Space is Limited to 50 students per day. Register online or call 414-224-


o When registering remember to mention that you are part of the 

Visual Arts Classic group. When registering online there is a box at 

the bottom that you could put this information in to.

o Each coach is responsible for registering their own team and 

managing all communication with MAM. 

o This is an optional event that is designed to enrich the Art History 

element of VAC.

If you have any additional questions you can contact 

Beth Schlieger (VAC Contact) at or 

Amy Kirschke (Museum Contact)
Art & Science
You should be familiar with each of the artists and topics on the list below:
Artist List:
Leonardo da Vinci (including Golden Ratio)
Rube Goldberg
Beatrix Potter
David Macaulay
David Goodsell
Camille Pissarro
Albrecht Dürer
Kate MacDowell
Theo Jansen
Ernst Haeckel
Alfred Hitchcock
Fritz Kahn
We had a very successful day for our State VAC Competition, this is the second year we have held it at Edgewood College. Working with the professionals there, like Bob Tarrell, along with the VAC coaches that have stepped up and volunteered for leadership roles at this event made it all run smoothly. The best part of the day was seeing the amazing works that the students came up with in both their long-term and onsite events. This year we had 44 schools compete with approximately 300 students involved at the State competition level. The overall first place team was Luck, coached by Kyle Clemins.

Within the images you will find examples of artwork inspired by our 2015 theme: Earth, Wind, Fire and Art. One of the prompts that was one of my personal favorites was the onsite challenge for the sculpture students who created structures inspired by artists like Patrick Dougherty and Andy Goldsworthy within the natural settings surrounding Edgewood College. 
Taking On New School-wide Assessment Initiatives
Elizabeth Schlieger, VAC Chair
It has been an interesting year for my colleagues and I in the world of assessment. Our high school is involved in a transition from a form of assessment that utilizes formative and summative assessments that are translated into a letter grade to a Standards Based Grading System (SBG). I opted to be part of our SBG pilot group, just like I opted to be part of the grading team when we switched to our current formative/summative system. For me, it is essential that I am part of this change so as to assure what is being developed works for the arts as well. Below is an overview of what I have learned so far about the SBG assessment system.

The theory is fairly easy to buy into. Develop a grading system that is about communicating with students in a way that will facilitate learning directed at identified curricular standards. Most teachers will find that a SBG system is consistent with the research practices of Marzano, O’Conner, and Guskey and what they define as effective grading practices. It is the practicality of developing a system that does this while fighting the standard question—what’s my letter grade?—that becomes the challenge.  At the beginning of this process I also felt that there was a need to translate the standard grades, which are recorded with a number from 1 – 4, into a letter grade at the end of the semester because of the implications secondary grades have on post-secondary school. It has only taken me 3 months to no longer feel it is necessary. In fact, I believe that it gets in the way of one of the main theories behind SBG—communicating student learning on identified standards. Retaining letter grades is just about an inability to let go of the past and a language that is no longer sufficient in communicating out to students what their learning is.

 The next obstacle is, which standards and how many? This is a seemingly overwhelming task in a sea of State and National content standards, no matter what your content is. Our district has given us a guideline of 6 or less, which helps. Thankfully the recently released National Visual Arts Standards (NVAS) help as well in narrowing this down and developing a language that can be effectively translated into a SBG rubric that can be utilized by both the instructor and the student. In addition to clear standards, the NVAS have been established with different levels within secondary education; proficient accomplished and advanced. It is just a process of deciding which standards fit with which course and at which level. Easy right? But then the real work begins.

Each time we adjust our assessment we have to look at our entire curriculum, the lessons we use as part of the learning process, and ultimately we need to reflect on if we are connecting with student learning in its desired capacity. Some positives that have come from being part of this pilot include that I have had to evaluate how I use each moment of instruction within my classroom, making my instruction more effective in the process. I have developed an additional feedback tool to go along with the basic SBG assessment that includes self-reflection and instructor feedback on specific elements of projects to help students understand how they apply to the standards, which essentially pulls the student into the assessment process more.  I have developed additional learning tools that require students to engage in more content writing, so I am finding a better balance between studio and reflecting/critique for my students. In general I feel more connected to what my students know, when they know it, and how I can individually address those students who still need more help in showing that they have mastered the essential standards of the course.

So far it has almost been like developing a new language, but when your goal is about more effective communication of student learning I guess this makes sense. I’m still learning and still adapting.

If you are interested in finding out more about SBG in the secondary art room please feel free to contact me at

Elizabeth Schlieger

VAC State Chair

As I write this column, it is now a week past the Wisconsin Art Educators Association State Convention held in Milwaukee this year, as I sit and reflect on the experience. First, I think it is significant to note that it has been about eight years since I have been at the WAEA convention, but once I received the email this summer about this year’s theme, Art Connects Us, I immediately contacted the chemistry teacher I co-teach a class with and asked her to join me in presenting. What a great opportunity, a forum in which to share something I am passionate about teaching that relies on a non-traditional collaboration within the secondary school level, with a group of people that are just as passionate about learning and making art. A place to share how we, as educators and artists, can find new ways to expand how students think about art and its connectivity to not only our current culture, but all cultures throughout history. Art is tied to science, math, literature, history, technology; which brings me to the Visual Arts Classic (VAC).

Walking in to the first morning of convention, I immediately started to reconnect with the educators that I have developed working relationships with through VAC. Relationships built through constant collaboration; first as a coach, then as a Regional Chair, and now as the State Chair. Feeding on each other’s strengths, supporting each other as we all learn in the effort to supply an alternative opportunity for our students to excel at something they too are passionate about. Other teachers that have committed their time not only as an advisor for their school teams, many without pay, but who also donate endless hours of their own time to refine themes, research artists and develop prompts. This collaborative spirit not only benefits our students, but also feeds us as educators.

Reflecting on both of these experiences, I am excited to report that many of our prompts this year are combining experiences and strengths in areas other than what some would say are traditional forms of art. With our 2015 theme of Earth, Wind, Fire and Art, students will find themselves needing to engage with teachers outside of the art room to gain access to the tools and knowledge needed to complete projects. I have already begun collaboration with our metals and woods teacher, physics teacher, and business teacher making sure that I can send my team members in their direction for additional support.

It is not enough to simply talk about how the many connections within our world can make learning more significant and engaging, we need to provide those opportunities and real life examples to our students as well.



Color Experience: Art and Science presentation can be found at:



Elizabeth Schlieger
VAC State Chair

As I take on my new role as the Visual Arts Classic Chair, there is little time to rest and reflect as we are already in full planning mode for our 2015 season, Earth, Wind, Fire and Art. However, part of being an effective leader is doing just that, taking time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past in order to improve future endeavors and experiences. Fortunately, I come into a program that has many successes, which leaves time to work on one of the main challenges, one that exists in all of Art Education—advocacy. Specifically, I am looking at ways to help art educators who have already recognized the benefits of the Visual Arts Classic program for enriching their students’ art education, but continue to struggle with funding their efforts.

When I started the Visual Arts Classic team at the high school I work at 8 years ago, I did so in an unpaid position. Fortunately, our school has a process in place to start a new team or organization, which includes steps to becoming a paid advisor. This, along with an administrator that supported my belief in this program, lead to a paid position as an advisor, just like other curriculum enriching teams like Science Olympiad, Math Team, FCCLA, Forensics and FFA. I mention this process because as a whole I am shocked by the large percentage of VAC advisors who remain unpaid and work with a minimal budget. Advocating for your program and yourself is not always easy, but it is essential. Know what the process is for developing paid extra-curricular positions in your district and engage in the process. Being paid is not the only way to legitimize a program, but I strongly believe that this is part of the path to a successful program. I would also encourage coaches to start having discussions with their administrators about developing a budget for supplies that exists outside of their classroom art budget.

As coaches engage in this process, it is important to be able to support how Visual Arts Classic involvement provides an academic enriching experience for students that is unique to the program. As I am currently delving into the new National Core Arts Standards and their focus on creating, presenting, responding and connecting I find myself thinking about ways VAC fits into these areas and how it is pushing students toward that upper level of high school advancement. Specifically, I look at the days of VAC competition where students are immersed in a collaborative environment of creation, evaluation, discussion and presentation. One of my goals for my first year as VAC State Chair is to develop materials to help teachers and coaches advocate for this program and its funding because of the valuable art enriching experience it provides to students.