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Dianne Simpson

Dianne Simpson

Arts Education Artist Archive
  • Visual Arts and Crafts


    Growing up in the mountains of South Eastern Kentucky, Dianne learned many traditional crafts working with her grandmother, mother, aunts, and neighbors. Soap making, in the fall (hog killing time), paper flowers in the spring (for Memorial Day), quilt tacking and embroidery in winter were just a few. She has always been eager to learn how things were made or how they worked. Dianne took a basket weaving class and practiced developing her own designs - some of which she sold to the state parks gift shops. A little later she purchased her first loom. Using the knowledge she gained from basket weaving, it wasn't long before she was developing her own weaving designs. Dianne found that she could do so much more with the flexible fabrics than with the rigid reeds. Dianne uses a combination of techniques in weaving her designs: plain, overlay, and inlay.

    Potential Residency Project

    The projects that I do in the educational setting can be customized to the grade level, class or unit of study and to expand the understanding of life in the Appalachian area and culture. These projects can integrate core content from Arts and Humanities (media, art processes, principles of design, and the purpose of visual arts within cultures), social studies (Kentucky and US history, elements of culture), and mathematics (mathematical thinking, 2D and 3D concepts, and pattern discovery).

    One project that I like to do is to have the students design a basket, starting with a sketch or blue print of their goal with dimensions and colors. Then step-by-step I work with the students to achieve their goal. I like to include the dying of the reed in the process. This project is geared toward a high school age group and would take 20 days to complete.

    All of the projects that I do are a hands-on approach to learning about culture history, elements of art, and principles of design. In an average residency, each student will make an individual basket and participate in making a group or individual wall hanging using a loom. As the baskets are being made, a discussion of Cherokee patterns and designs, and their influence on Appalachian baskets will hopefully influence the patterns the students use in their basket. Depending on the length of the residence and age of the students, the students may design a basket for a particular function using mathematical formulas. By allowing the students to weave with both rigid and soft material, students receive a better understanding of the weaving process and visually understand how weaving can create both 2D and 3D art pieces. Because weaving, both basket and loom are very hands on processes, students that are considered slow learners may actually do better than the honor students of the same age. The results are awesome, both the finished projects and the students' self-esteem.

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