* The Star * February 2002


Achitecture class brings children, adults together


Lisa Lambert


Alice Cotton, a local illustrator and teacher, will lead a three-part course on architecture February 9, 16 and 23 at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd.


Home-schooled children, art students and those who are "just curious and want to learn" are invited to take the course, which will cover an introduction to Oregon's historical architecture, classical design, and Victorian ornamentation. Registration is $25 and the sessions take place between 10 a.m. and noon.


Cotton is an experienced teacher and the author/illustrator of When Buildings Speak: Stories Told by Oregon's Historical Architecture


who has written about architecture for the Star.


"I work with a lot of age groups," Cotton says. "I've designed and taught curriculum for little kids to adults.


Cotton recently left teaching fifth grade in the West Linn School District to pursue her art full-time but found that she missed working with people so has returned to leading workshops as an artist-in-residence for Gilbert Heights Elementary and at Portland City College and Portland State University's Urban Development Departments.


As a classroom teacher, she noticed that students became more excited about learning when they were given creative projects to complete. They might drag through math worksheets but became lively when they worked on a piece of art.


"I thought: 'This is silly. Let's put it together,'" Cotton says. "I created a curriculum that combines art and academics. People do their best work when they're creatively engaged. Period. The genius in them shines through."


The February architecture classes will feature the same sort of synthesis because, as Cotton points out, architecture combines most disciplines. In the classical unit, for example, students will design and make their own Greek columns following the methods of ancient Greek architects.


"There's no measuring," she says. "It's based on the proportions of their own bodies."


They will learn about math, physics and history, as well as self-expression.


Cotton decided to offer a two-for-one registration discount to encourage parents to enroll.


"I'd like to reach out to the general public," she says. "I'd like the students and parents to come together so the parents can take the lesson home. I know home-school parents are always looking for things to do with their kids. This is a resource to work with their kids and also have fun with them."


Although Cotton will encourage people to help each other, each student will complete his or her own design. Students will also create resource books to use as references if they want to pursue what they've learned. All of the courses will include slides and photos and the Victorian-centered session will also feature a hands-on project.


Cotton, who was an art major and math minor in college, knows about pursuing learning for fun. Her love of architecture has inspired her to check out tons of books" from the library and investigate different areas of the field. She has seen her illustrations of buildings become more precise since her love of architecture has blossomed.


For her, teaching not only means sharing her personal interests and spending time with others. It also means helping people learn about art at a time when arts education is shrinking.


"When you have budget cuts, art classes or music classes are the first to go. Those should be the last to go," she says. "I love students of any age. This is a great way to spread good in the world."


For more information, contact Alice Cotton at www.artemisillustration.com, call (503) 254-3173 or send an E-mail to: artpub@artemisillustration.com.