Art Literacy

art literacy excerpt2
Clementine Hunter


In November of 2016 I read about a symposium that addressed the challenge of educating immigrant children.  The symposium was held at the Roosevelt School District, in Roosevelt, New York.  Not long after this symposium was held, I read that research indicates children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from cultural enrichment.   These two bits of information were connected in my mind and from that connection grew the idea for Art Literacy

Art Literacy is a showcase for artistic expression, and an invitation to create art.  The picture at the top of the page, of Clementine Hunter, and the excerpt below this paragraph, are typical of material students will find in the book.   A total of forty-three feature images are presented.  At least one smaller image accompanies the feature image.   In the case of Clementine Hunter, there are two feature images and two companion images. 

A caption that describes Clementine Hunter’s personal history:

clementine Blurb

A smaller image that helps to introduce Clementine Hunter to students:

clothesline website
Clothesline, by Clementine Hunter.  The Picture is Credited to the Ethel Van Derlip Morrison Fund.


With every picture, there is an invitation to act.  Students are asked to write a response and to create a visual work of art.  They are reminded of art’s essential nature:  It is a genuine expression of an individual’s perspective and experience.   

The kinds of images featured in Art Literacy range from a Sami family (Lapland) posing in front of a traditional residence, to children playing along the seashore in Zanzibar.  Subjects covered include Stone Age cave art and NASA space missions.  

There are quotes from James Baldwin, and there is poetry from Rabindranath Tagore. 

The question is asked at the beginning of the book, What is art?  By the end of the book, students may be prepared to answer,  Art is a form of communication, a way for people to share their perceptions and insights.

A supplemental guide to Art Literacy has been created.  This consists of keyed sheets that offer background information on some of the covered topics.   The sheets can be copied and distributed to students who want them.

Collages introduce the five thematic sections: Animals in Art, Fantasy in Art, People in Art, Places in Art and Things in Art.  The collages are visual demonstrations of the book’s operating theme: Let imagination be the guide as experience and perception are explored.

A representative collage, from the section entitled Fantasy in Art, is shown below:


collage fantasy elsas pig2 website

Art Literacy is for sale on Amazon.  However, the long-term plan is to set up an apparatus through which the book and accompanying material can be distributed, at no cost, to students.  


art literacy front cover website


A. G. Moore    June, 2017






Sister Judy Mannix

scorpion costa rica
Sister Judy told me about some of the critters she encountered while she was in El Salvador. One of those was a scorpion. The picture above is of a Central American Bark Scorpion. Not sure if Sister Judy’s scorpions looked exactly like this.

(I have adapted this post from an older one, on another website)

I first spoke with Sister Judy Mannix in the winter of 1997.   I’d called the local parish and offered to volunteer.  Sister Judy answered my call.  And thus I came to know one of the most remarkable people I have ever met.

Before you read any further, scrub your mind clean of preconceptions about a person who chooses to live the religious life.  Though she is obviously a woman of deep faith, Sister Judy does not impose that faith on anyone.  It was several months – as  she was handing out Easter tokens in fact – before she had any idea what my religious practices were.  Although we worked together in Parish Outreach, doctrine was never an issue with us. 

The center at which we worked was a small storefront office in the middle of a troubled neighborhood.  This site was Sister Judy’s brainchild and represented her approach to a problem: bring the services to the people and get to work.  We opened our doors and word-of-mouth did the rest.  There were unpaid heating bills, poorly clothed children, undernourished families.  The list of ills was probably representative of every distressed community anywhere.

With Sister Judy’s guidance we addressed the issues.  But we also learned to do something else.  And in one incident I witnessed, Sister Judy demonstrated what that something was.

It was maybe two in the afternoon; a woman of indeterminate age came to the office.  She sat down and was vague about the reason for her visit.  A strong smell of alcohol – and other things that suggested a carelessness about personal hygiene – surrounded her.  I was at a loss and called Sister Judy from the back office because I didn’t know how to help this woman.  But Sister Judy did.

Although she had been running ragged all afternoon dealing with fuel companies and social service agencies, Sister Judy just stopped.  She sat next to our client.  Suddenly we did not have a client.  We had a guest.  Sister Judy saw a need I did not understand.  The woman craved company. This Sister Judy gracefully gave her.

Was it twenty minutes?  I don’t remember.  Nothing material was accomplished in those minutes.  Sister Judy and the woman chatted casually, as one might do with a friend.  At the end of their chat, the woman wandered away and Sister Judy returned to her intensive work schedule.

There was no discussion of religion, or doing good, before, during or after that woman’s visit.  But the whole episode demonstrated for me once and for all what Sister Judy was about.  She had turned herself into a vessel for good and as a vessel, bent willingly to the requirements of her environment.

In the past, she had traipsed across the mountains of El Salvador while civil war raged.  She taught school in Malaysia.  When I knew her she was establishing an outreach center for immigrants on Long Island.  

As to money:  every business should have Sister Judy supervising its books.  There would be no random, unexplained expenditures with her on the watch.  She has what I can only describe as a singular talent for thrift.  She sees herself as a trustee of funds.  Every penny is measured and dispensed with scrupulous care.  No valid request for assistance is denied, but every request is scrutinized to be certain that it is indeed valid.

Sister Judy changed my life, and she did it by example, not by sermonizing.  I will never be brave enough, energetic enough, thrifty enough or spiritual enough to emulate her.  But now at least I know the goal, and knowing that, I can head in the right direction.

Sister Judy is a member of the Good Shepherd order, which has its home base in Jamaica, New York. According to the 2010 issue of the Catholic Islander, the newsletter of the Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Sister Judy is currently working at the Good Shepherd Center in St. Croix.