Recipient of the 2015 Living Memorial Scholarship, Julie Neussl Harrison, Alabama Kappa Chapter, tells her story:

Julie teaches art to more than 750 students ages 4 to 8 each year. She used the scholarship to tour art museums in London and meet with children’s book author and illustrator Laurence Anholt. “His assistant arranged for me to visit his private studio, view his illustrations and tell me about firsthand experiences he has used to create his books,” she said.

Julie recently returned from her trip to England, where she visited Anholt, author of “Camille and the Sunflowers” and other popular children’s books. She also toured a local school art program and visited famous London museums, including the National Art Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. She will provide her students with a detailed account of touring an art museum, talking with a famous illustrator and learning about British students and their development in art.

“Teaching at a Title I, low-income school, I have learned that many of my students are not immersed in culture. We do not have art museums in our city, and I am the only full-time art teacher in our county,” Julie said. “Art is a window into human thought and emotion.”

Q: HOW HAVE YOU BENEFITED FROM YOUR TRIP TO LONDON?

A: Seeing how another culture lives and how they value art can be life-changing. During my trip to London, I was able to see so many examples of art. First, I learned how author and illustrator Laurence Anholt creates the images for his children’s storybooks. He was able to show me sketches that he creates on tracing paper and how they are arranged in the final copies of the book. Secondly, I was in sheer amazement of the architecture, statues and original art that is treasured and displayed throughout London. I walked in magnificent cathedrals (Salisbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey) with stained glass, carved silhouettes and vaulted ceilings. I stood in Trafalgar Square and was in awe of the oversized statues. I viewed work from Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. Finally, I was welcomed by an art teacher at Lakenheath Elementary School. Mr. Renfrow shared his lesson ideas and techniques for working with a large student body enrollment such as mine. He showed me a way to help students use white glue by attaching a dabbing top rather than the traditional squeezing method.

Q: HOW WILL YOU INCORPORATE YOUR EXPERIENCES INTO YOUR CURRICULUM?

A: In 2012, I began using my own teacher-made DVDs to supplement my art lessons. Each week, my husband would make videos of my demonstrations of art techniques. I would show these large, up-close videos to students as they worked on new projects. I am going to develop a video of the experiences on my trip. I want my students to see what it is like to land in an airplane. I want them to see inside the National Art Museum. I want them to hear the description of making book illustrations from a live illustrator. I feel this video will be able to let them live the experience with me. I also plan to make a photo storybook, capturing the beauty of the photographs I took on the trip. 

Q: HOW WILL THIS TRIP ENHANCE YOUR STUDENTS?

A: Art is all around us. As learners, we can interpret art and gain understanding as to the time period it was made. We can also learn about the artist who made the work. I hope to share the stories of Laurence Anholt in depth with my young students. I want them to be able to create works of art that mimic the technique or subjects depicted in their original paintings. I plan to show, in particular, van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers” from the museum and relate it to the story “Camille and the Sunflowers.” Children will be able to create paintings of vases with flowers. I would also like my students to create sculptures. Sculptures were throughout the city of London. Beautiful stone houses and fences lined the streets. I know my students will enjoy “building” their own art similar to these.