Lisa Vandegrift Davala's profile

Name: Lisa Vandegrift Davala


Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) IVARO International Documentary association (IDA) DACS Filmbase IAA U.N.E.S.C.O. Tax Exemption For Artists, under Section 2, Finance Act National Museum of Women in the Arts Archives on Women Artists, Washington, D.C.

Region: Sligo


Member since:09-08-2013


Artist, film maker with a strong background in visual, architectural, musical and movement theatre disciplines. BFA Painting from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA, The Aegean School of Fine Art, Paros, Cyclades, Greece and Atelier Potash (Mime), Montpellier France. Have devoted a consistent portion of my professional work life to working with primary and secondary school children both in Ireland and the US. Projects include: More than 5 projects (all my time and resources were donated) with Lincoln Elementary, PA, USA around artists books/literacy/wholebrain benefits to overall education, 2002-2006. "Celestial Crcus"(working with at risk teens to produce a permanent installation for Crayola’s Museum 2003)

Professional Organisation

Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) IVARO International Documentary association (IDA) DACS Filmbase IAA U.N.E.S.C.O. Tax Exemption For Artists, under Section 2, Finance Act National Museum of Women in the Arts Archives on Women Artists, Washington, D.C.


Professional Statement

During a child’s education, the value of bringing working artist’s into schools is immeasurable. "Whole brain" education impacts not only the creative aspect of a child’s life - it also has an enormous effect on a child’s academic performance, test results, maths skills and social adjustment. I have not seen my practice as being directed to children as much as very consciously being inclusive of them. Early in my career I had the privilege of being mentored by the sculptor Reg Butler who said that students benefited far more from a working professional artist being in the classroom, than from a more academic approach from a non-working artist. Kids know what is real - if given the opportunity.

During one of my first programmes at Lincoln elementary in the US, a young boy crawled up on my lap and said "Its a good thing you’re here!", I said "Why is that?" He replied in astonishment "Well... because all the others are dead!" "Who is dead?", I asked. He said "All the artists...they’re all dead!". This is the view that text books , media and stereotyping has given. You can imagine the conversation from there as I assured these children that far from the notion that all art ended with Picasso - there were indeed many living artists today. They said the were very happy to hear that, but their question to me is "So why don’t we know about the others?" That is what we all need to fix. Below is an overview of the efforts I have made regarding this work.

 In the U.S. in the early 1990’s I led a workshop with 4-5 year olds encouraging them to respond to an original Picasso lithograph, the resulting art was exhibited with the Picasso as “Picasso and Friends” at the Narthex Gallery, near Philadelphia, PA. As the resident artist and curator of this gallery, I created a number of exhibitions of children’s art resulting from workshops students from 4 – 12 years of age. In 2003 I was commissioned to create a series of sculptures for the ceiling of The Crayola Factory Museum at Three Rivers Landing in Easton Pennsylvania, which I entitled “Celestial Circus”. This commission took the form of an Artist’s Residency over six months during which I apprenticed 15 high risk teenagers, living in-care to the State. My goal was to provide training for these boys and girls, while at the same time giving them the opportunity to accomplish something which they would not have otherwise experienced. Both the final sculptures and paintings (now on permanent exhibition) and the program were completed successfully. From 2003-2006 I presented more than five programs at Lincoln Elementary School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. Many of these projects used the format of the artist’s illustrated book, which has been an area of specialty in my work. I researched an old story called Djura’s Sleeve, reading it to the second grade class, and then asked them to divide up into “scribes” and “illuminators”. I explained that they would need to re-tell the story in their own words, discussing it among themselves, dissecting and elaborating, debating the meaning of the parable. Meanwhile the “illuminators” had to confer back and forth with the scribes to understand the story, choosing parts to illustrate, all the while working on the construction of the book. I used this project as an opportunity to discuss the different parts of a handmade book, from title page to colophon. As the new “standards based” educational system in the States requires that all arts education show cross-curriculum relevancy, this project was a success on many levels, and the previously sceptical school principal was won over immediately - commented that even she never knew what a colophon was!. Later I lead a one-day project which was a collaboration of similar tasks executed by each age group on a long scroll. The school’s principal was again amazed when I explained that this could be read as a pictogram of childhood development. In 2000, Crayola Dream Makers Foundation published a number of my own Artist’s Illustrated Books in their Crayola Dream Makers Publication, so that teachers could use them as examples to inspire their own classroom work). Other projects at Lincoln included murals and an enormous book worked on by the entire school body of over 350 children in a single day (Lincoln at the Beach). For the Gifted classes at Lincoln who were studying the Far East, I brought a collection of Oriental art including ceramics, antique kimonos, figurines, calligraphy brushes, allowing the students to handle and wear the collection, learn to use the calligraphy brushes and create their own Oriental calligraphic paintings. Photos and examples of many of these projects can be provided as can references from the class teachers.

In Ireland I was chosen as Roscommon Artist in Schools, 2008 & 2009 collaborating with the entire Abbey Cartron (Elphin) primary school to produce a book, puppet show and film "The Cattle Raid of Cooley"(DVD) and working with 5-6 year students at Ballinagare primary school to make a 50 minute documentary "The Ballinagare Initiative". Sliglow and Sliglow2 2009 & 2010 where public light installations made in collaboration with over 1000 people of all ages on Culture Night Sligo. More than half of those attending were very young children. In 2010 I completed a film which was funded by Sligo Co. Council/Peace III/Percent for Art in which a portion of the cast were primary and secondary school children as well as students from IT Sligo  ("...for peace comes dropping slow...")

Media and techniques

Primary medium: Film

Secondary medium: Painting

Creative Context

Primary context: All contexts

Secondary context: All contexts


Sligo and Roscommon County Councils, Crayola
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