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The Imagination Tool Box Conference

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a creativity conference at The Walters Art Museum. Artists, Teachers, Museum educators, and local businesses gathered to discuss how we can inspire the next generation to be more innovative and use 21st century skills like collaboration, communication, and creativity.

I thought this conference was important to attend because my passion as an educator is engaging and connecting students with real world creative experiences. Watch the NAEA’s new National standards to teach our future generation Visual Arts/Media Arts/Design and 21st Century skills…

The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Michelle James, creativity coach from The Center for Creative Emergence, speaking on how to draw out our own creativity and our student’s creativity. Highlights from her talk included how to best be creative….the power of storytelling, the positives in thinking on your feet (improvisation), how to embrace mistakes–don’t be limited by them, and how teams work best when they create something together and have buy in. She brought up the fact that as children or beginners we are all creative and willing to explore…not inhibited by much, but, as we are educated and adjust to society norms…our creativity becomes harder to find. She mentioned if we look back at our passion before age 7, we may find our soul’s work or what will be most fulfilling for us. This rang true for me as I was drawn away from creating when I first decided on my communication major in college. I remember feeling jealous of the fine artists walking around campus and wished I could leave the theories behind. I eventually found my way to the UD VC program, where I was able to create and solve problems. Throughout Michelle’s talk, we interacted during her discussion and used visual creativity, motion, music, and dance to emphasize how everyone is creative in different ways (different styles of learning). This seems critical to remember as a teacher AND a mother!

The emcee, Jamaal Collier, aka Mr. Root, helped facilitate and move the event along with his clever improv, beat boxing, and freestyling. We also heard from 12 other Maryland artists, teachers, or organizations on how they foster communication, creativity, and connections with the community. I was most inspired by Heather Bradbury’s talk on the business of design and how MICA’s BAD graduate school program teaches how to work as an artist with the Art-o-mat product. Perhaps I will pursue a partnership for my students as I delve further into teaching design. Another presenter that I am hoping to partner with soon was Joanne Miller, an artist in residence and environmental photographer. She enjoys finding student’s passion in exploring nature through photography and often partners with local school systems or art teachers to create fine art photography and curate a show.

Other artists/organizations that presented that peaked my interest include Language+ Art Workshop, AFTA, Crayola “Creatively Alive” Grant, and Tim Gregory presenting about movement culture.

I have to say, my favorite part of the conference was the interactive and group exercises where teachers came together to solve a problem using different types of creativity. We got to work together to solve a global problem like littering, invasive species, dirty water, or homelessness through fashion design (Project Runway…see the photos from the fashion show above). This and other exercises we did gave me some ideas for collaborative projects I can do with my students.

From this conference, I now have some fresh ideas of how I can connect or engage student’s with their personal creativity and their community. I hope to share these resources in my “tool box” with my colleagues and my students as I begin to plan for the upcoming school year.


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Design of honor

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As maid of honor in my sister’s wedding, I’m having lots of fun with my sister’s wedding. I designed the Save the date, Wedding invite, Shower invite, and am working on the Bachelorette party…lots to do! We are trading services… my design work for my sister’s babysitting! I think my husband and I are up to 4 nights out ;) .


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Student Work I am Proud of

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These 20 images represent a variety of projects I have done with my students in design courses and fine arts courses in no particular order.

Invitation Color Palette Project


Invitation Color Palette Project




Favorite Product Ad Design



Favorite Product Ad Design

Baltimore's Voices Book Cover



Baltimore's Voices Book Cover


Pop Art Lyrical Letters Poster

Pop Art Lyrical Letters Poster

Celebrity Page Layout Project


Celebrity Page Layout Project

Self Portrait Print-making

Page layout project Lead Page Design

Page Layout Project-Illustration

Inspired by designer Paula Scher

Inspired by designer Stefan Sagmeister


Building a Better City Collaborative Mural


Logo Redesign/Animation Project




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Letterpress Revival

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Last night I had the opportunity to attend the speaking event at MICA where the acquisition of the historic Globe Poster collection was announced.

Globe Poster

In addition, Jim Sherraden, of Nashville’s Hatch Show Print gave a lecture entitled Preservation Through Production. Read more about Hatch Show Print here.

A historic letterpress poster designed by Hatch Show Print in the 1870's.

Poster by Hatch Show Print

I have to admit, I have only recently become very interested in letterpress after learning all about the print making process in one of my grad classes last fall (post coming soon). I think you can only truly appreciate the art of letterpress or print making when you are involved in the hand process of designing, carving or prepping a plate, inking, cranking, and curating prints.

This talk, however, truly inspired me and proved that “print is not dead” (Ellen Lupton). In fact, it seems that letterpress has been undergoing a revival or renaissance in the past decade, as Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print and Jamie Mahoney of Bowe House Press have said, “designers need to evolve from the computers.” I agree with this and hope to implement print making and/or letterpress into my curriculum in order to teach students to appreciate all that goes into type-setting and the historical significance of print making. Check out this book project done by students at Bowe House Press, using Hatch Show Print’s woodcuts. I love the idea that “the designer is the printer and the printer is the designer”. The work of Hatch Show Print, especially Jim’s mono-prints, brought about a deeper understanding of the print making process and has inspired me to continue to develop and study my print making techniques.

Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print

Monoprint by Jim Sherraden

The craziest part of the night last night was the fact that I ran into one of my undergrad professors at UD, Ray Nichols of Lead Graffiti, at the event. I guess I was not too surprised to see him there considering his love for letterpress. In fact, it was Ray and Bill Deering who first introduced me to the art of letterpress while studying abroad in London. Seeing him at the event brought up memories of my trip to London about 10 years ago, most memorably, a workshop with Alan Kitching, who teaches letterpress at the Royal College of Art. I hope I am able to create memorable experiences like that workshop for my students (print making lesson ideas post coming soon).

Ray and I at the event. Glad I was able to make it, prego and all!

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Designing Our Nursery

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We are excited to welcome a baby boy into our home any week now and decided to go with a teddy bear theme for the nursery. I was inspired by my nephew’s nursery below and especially loved the art work my sister in law did with fabric. I also admire the seamstress in my mother in law who helped customize the curtain and pillow!

Here are some pics of the almost complete nursery and art (just missing the rug)!

Baby Van Horn's nursery

Thanks to everyone who helped us put this together! We are very pleased with the finished room. Ready for the baby now!

The pillow and valance are a great addition and help pull everything together! Thanks Vicki!

A close up of the fabric teddy bear art I designed!

"Bear Hugs" wall art I designed with fabric and paint!

We love the vintage bassinet that was cleaned up and passed down from Chris' family.

A couple pics of my nephew Chase's nursery designed by interior designer Courtney Macfarlane.

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