About sgorham

I live in Maine with my two fabulous children and have a great, but challenging dog named Griffin. I have worked at the University of New England since 2002 and enjoy teaching courses such as Painting I, Landscape Painting, and The Painted Book. I love to create, play piano, hike, kayak, cross country ski, and walk.

Frustrations with iMovie

So working to assemble and edit the info from last weeks art experience has proved more frustrating than satisfactory. I am sooooo glad that I am doing this though because I can really understand now how to help the students. I will do this same exercise of practicing  with multiple platforms such as StoryForm, and perhaps youtube. I look forward to completing my Painted Book Goes Digital movie to present to our Digital Humanities class next week.


Staging Altered Book Text


From Bean’s article Chapter 6, Informal, Exploratory Writing activities, I have been inspired to develop a journal element in my Painted Book course. I have taught this course for 6 years and have never depended on in class, or outside of class writing exercises to generate content for the pages of the books. Exploratory writing exercises can be very beneficial to “discover, develop, and clarify” ideas. Particular exercises that Bean describes that could work for my project might be the guided journal, what I observed/what I thought, writing dialogues, and occasional thought exercises. Paring with these exercises students would to do free expressive sketching. These sketches would start image making that coincides with the writing.

Imperative though to the process of creating is freedom and the entire page layout must not be figured out ahead of time. So many students want to have all of the answers before beginning a creative work. This tendency inhibits spontaneous development of a work of art. Much of the work happens in response to the work that is happening on the page. The writing and the preliminary sketching is a groundwork for engaged creativity.

The Bean and Me

So the teacher asked this of us this week: Complete blog reflection on Bean and your project: How does Bean’s chapter inform your thinking about elements of your planned project? On what resources are you drawing as you work on your project?

Bean, more formally known as John C. Bean, wrote a book entitled Engaging Ideas in 1996, and we were asked to read Chapter 5; Formal Writing Assignments and relate that to projects that we might do in our courses next year that integrate the digital. I read the chapter, as the good(ish) student that I am, and found it had little to do with my “field” of teaching. But since I am interested in challenging the notion of the objective in creation and learning, I reread the chapter with a different lens. In my course,The Painted Book,  my students will not only be creating original altered and handmade books, they will be engaged in the process of creating and writing a blog, and documenting through video and photographs, how their process developed.

What I gleaned from rereading Bean’s article were the fascinating, alternative and creative, ways one can approach writing assignments or reflective responses to subjects. I particularly like the teacher prompts that ask students to write a response in the form of a letter, or a poem, or to create a mini-play. I would like students to think in terms of the beginners mind and have them be able to explore the formation and development of ideas. In my assignments I would like students to not only create original works of art I would like them, like detectives, piece out and explain the train of thoughts or stepping stones that brought them from their original inspiration to finished product.  This teasing out of their process will be explained in their blog and the product will be their end goal.

Assignments for Digital Humanities with the Painted Book

Preamble: The course, The Painted Book, will be split into classes devoted to traditional altered book and bookmaking techniques with assignments focused on integrating digital elements. These following assignments will be integrated into regular class meetings and will be followed by art making, and exploration with book making.

Digital Assignment 1: Open Word Press Blog account. Respond in the form of a 1st blog post to Chapter 1 of text; Why Greatness Cannot be Planned, the Myth of the Objective by Kenneth Stanly and Joel Lehman.

Digital Assignment 2: Create Blog post in response to latest Why Art Matters and the article; Unteaching; The return of exploration in image making. Blog writing by Sarah Gorham

Digital Assignment 3: Idea Generation: Where do ideas come from and how do we follow them. Create a Visual Map of your life experiences as a guide to your project development. Seven degrees of Separation. How did you get here from where?

Digital Assignment 4: How did you get here & from where? Create a video or photographic log of how you created your Final Painted Book Project. This assignment may take several weeks and lots of editing. You will work with an Art Buddy from our class and help each other with video and documentation. Does sound play a role in your process? Is their music when you create- will you include this in your video or as a link on your page? Do you want to do a running commentary or will words and images suffice to explain how you got here?  Include your Visual Map somewhere in this Log.

Digital Assignment 5: Presentation of our Final Painted Book Projects.


Booker and Visualization Tools

In September 2012 Matthew Booker contributed his article, Visualizing San Francisco Bay’s Forgotten Past, to the Journal of Digital Humanities. He stated in his conclusion, “if we cannot even visualize what that past looked like, it becomes much more difficult to imagine its future.” Using the metaphor of “accretion” which is a geology term meant to describe the process of discovery through exposure of layers, or as the dictionary defines it as the process of growth or increase, typically by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter he explains how discovery comes through exposing the various layers to understand how something works.  Data visualization tools such as wordle, national archive photographs, the spatial history lab of Stanford, Booker provides text with visual images to elaborate his ideas about changes in San Franscisco Bay salt ponds over time.

This would be a tremendous asset to many undergraduate courses aiding students to clearly demonstrate their research, or writing, or creative works in a more interesting an approachable way. A couple of these could bring interesting methods to depict visual information in courses that I teach. I will need to do some further research to find visualization tools that specifically could be beneficial for my Altered Book projects, but two that are listed here could be the, http://piktochart.com/ and wordle.net.

PiktoChart was established in 2011 by a young couple in Malaysia. They now how a thriving business with over 3 million users and 40 employees. They offer a blog spot and other tools to develop visual their tag line is “All you will need to make information beautiful. Designing has never been easier.”  This could be great for a blog for my students and a user friendly site with tutorials for easy application. Non-profits and educational institutions can buy special packages such as.

Classroom PRO $120  for 4 months (30 accounts)

  • All templates
  • Image upload limit increased to 400mb
  • Hi-Res image exports
  • High quality PDF exports
  • Piktochart watermark removal
  • More privacy options
  • Integrated export platform

They are hiring looking for a

Candidate Happiness Officer (Recruitment)…LOVE IT!!

The other was wordle.net. I tried it and it is fun. I can see students using this for a page or two in their altered books. It is a fun way to bring a lot of text together in a different perhaps more stimulating way. But my criticism with this is that the words simple become a visual, and image, and lose their impact as part of a story where the content matters. The flow of the words in a paragraph become simplified to the basics.

An altered book site that I am investigating and am very excited about is:


More on this next week.




Organizing for the Masses

In reading the Palmer article entitled “Thematic Research Collections,” I was bored, but pleased. In undergraduate education this tool of collection could be a very useful source for collating and organization of broad thematic inquiry. This potential streamlining of sources and content would be an enviable aide to the process of finding information for a given topic. Perhaps one of the downfalls of this sort of prioritization and “creators select” materials is that the scope of the collection is faceted to the aims of the original creator. A positive is that, much like Wikipedia the sources and “collection” can be expanded by other contributors. This sort of one stop shop for information will certainly cut down on time spent in the library catalogue searching each avenue of information.

As a source for undergraduate research and scholarship I think these sorts of collection driven environments that take advantage of “contextual mass, interdisciplinary platforms, and activity support” will aide in supporting and enriching the varied directions of research in the humanities.


I spent my requisite 30 -45 minutes initially looking at Omeka.net and then was absorbed into other peoples websites and found myself intrigued with the variety of websites that were created on this platform. I think that the Omeka site has a lot of great information about how to assemble a successful website. I wanted desperately to check out this following website that is listed as one of the Showcase exhibits. Frustratingly the link was inactive.

Robert & Monnoyer: French Botanical Artists of the 17th Century from Dumbarton Oaks: http://robertandmonnoyer.omeka.net/

My second choice for studying was ALSO inactive, super frustrating!!

Museum On the Move, http://museumonthemove.omeka.net/

My third choice

Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century http://gildedage.omeka.net/

This site is great!! Still in the process but a good collection of resources for those studying or researching art at the end of the 20th century in NYC. I found of particular interest the links to the carious galleries and clubs. A very popular 19 and early 20th century activity was for artists and writers to meet weekly at a venue and paint, sketch, discuss and otherwise gather together to do things artsy. It was fascinating to have all this info in one location and very informative and provided openings for further inquiry.

The Women Writers Project website is a vast inclusive collection of resources for those who are interested or teaching courses in Women’s writing and history. The “goal is to bring texts by pre-Victorian women writers out of the archive and make them accessible to a wide audience of teachers, students, scholars, and the general reader.”  I looked through a few of the texts and was very excited to have access to them rather than having to dig thru archives myself. It is an excellent resource and initiative.



How to assimilate this into that

I don’t need a personal cyber infrastructure. Maybe someone does, but I sure as heck do not!  I can barely get my teeth brushed everyday and I am not convinced that having a PCI would help me get all that I need to get done in day done.  Perhaps, just perhaps, having a mini personal cyberstructure that did not keep my eyes fixated on a 13 inch plasma screen nor my bottom rooted in a chair 10 hours a day, would help me take ownership of my presence in technology.

I agree with  only a small aspect of Gardner Campbell’s article, A Personal Cyberinfrastructure, and that is that we should pull the crutches out from students and have them take over more ownership of their web presence. My website is created by Other People’s Pixels. It is an artist website where they give us an infrastructure but the entire design of the site is up to the artist. Yes I could spend an additional 900 hours working on it to make it look fabulous, but I am in charge and I lots of ways to change and rearrange. I can get to it when I have time. Which consequently is never!!

In the DS 106 assignment log I chose the assighownment BLACKMAIL, it had almost 5 star rating.  For this assignment you are supposed to take a picture with your phone camera and distort it someway so that is recognizable, but not completely recognizable. I often take pictures “by accident” and like the result, and I particularly love it when kids take pictures because they take photos from a different vantage point, and usually with novice intentions. They are funny, awkward, simple, confusing but often compelling. This is a great assignment for students to then take that image and use it for a beginning of a surrealistic painting or drawing. Many famous artists distort reality using their imagination such as Rene Magritte, Salvidor Dali, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso.  Students that in particular might have a hard time stepping outside of reality in their imagination can use technology to advance their thinking.  It is easy to step out of a car and take a photo, it is art to show a perspective that makes people think and react.


Response to Stepping up the look

February 21, 2016

Color and curb appeal before words. First impressions are vital. As a visual learner I am very much drawn into a page by the layout, the images, the color. I like to see images and changes in font style and color. From these careful considerations I get a small insight into the person behind the page and this encourages me to look deeper. This encourages me to read.

Looking thru my wordpress blog page for ways to improve my site I came across the comments page. I had no idea I had comments on the blog that I have been making for this Digital Humanities course. I had 44 comments!!!  Considering I was very slight and controlled in my Shareaholic-ness I was surprised that my words were making their way to the public sphere. I started through them, honestly did not read all prior to deleting, and found mostly spam. I did though receive some “real” comments,  or perhaps they were just advertisements disguised as “real,” that stated my blog page was easy to look, inviting, and well written. This was somehow reassuring. My personality, my voice, even with so few weeks in the public blog environment, was making an impact of sorts.

Web 2.0
web to͞o point ˈō/
noun: Web 2.0
  1. the second stage of development of the World Wide Web, characterized especially by the change from static web pages to dynamic or user-generated content and the growth of social media.

I am happy to work within a template, and appreciate the relative freedom that Web 2.0 has allowed. It is reassuring that I do not have to design a whole page myself, and was able to plug in pictures here and there and further accessorize my site to fully represent who I can be in this given interface. I am able to present to the public, limited as it is, an “idea” of who I am. I want to shape the readers experience, by first giving them an impression of who I am in spirit, a spirit that lives separate from the words, and second using language to present opinions, ideas, arguments.

Is presentation really that powerful. Can a color really be inviting? Can images create experience? Because I chose an orange background does this make me more trustworthy or appealing? What if orange is someone’s least favorite color have I turned off a potential follower. I do not want to worry about this. Images are capable of speaking volumes.

Reading the Article The 5 Resources Model of Critical Digital Literacy helped with my understanding of the importance of digital literacy and responsibility. The “the learner needs to” list among the 5 resources listed engages how users develop awareness of the impact of presentation and creates parameters within which we can analyze digital literacy. My page falls under the Persona resource wanting to create a site that is personal and embodies both presentation and creativity within the digital exchange.






Response to Kirschenbaum, Fowler, and Jester

Side bar conversations, thoughts of the quiet introvert, a fleeting ephemeral image or idea remain hidden unless spoken or written in text. Fowler in his article, Writing-Intensive Approaches in a Typographic Design Studio Class: Using Writing as a Tool toward More Intentional Design states “the act of writing makes thoughts concrete.” When a student can say in a written response to a Van Gogh painting that “Van Gogh screwed up,” then and only then a conversation begins. The intentionality of writing, or blogging, or tweeting about a work of art allows participants to participate in a dialogue of critique. Matthew Kirschenbaum in his article, What is a Digital Humanities and What’s it Doing in English Departments, discusses how Twitter and tweeting allowed a scholarly ” side-bar” conversation at a Digital Humanities convention in 2009 to occur. The use of this digital medium creates a network topology that is quickly rising as a popular and now “backed” at times skeptically by administrative bodies. The Dhers are becoming more and more publically visible and users are able to collaborate and network and communicate with greater ease.

Using digital methodologies and use of writing in courses has strengthened both the use of digital humanities and the courses. Using art to unbox language from the compartment of an individuals mind allows intentional creation and improved focus.


Response to Unsworth and Swensson Articles

To be honest I have read the articles two times and I really do not know what the articles are saying so I will be writing my official Blog will arrive after the “classroom” discussion.

In general the first article seems to be trying to describe and organize ways of seeking, analyzing, and finding digital information. I think what makes the most sense to me is the idea of discovery thru conversation of mutual interest. I think it is so important that we network and enter into dialogue with our colleagues and with students and in that dialogue new ideas and avenues of thinking are excavated. The author states that “the power of a primitive function executed across a very large pile of networked information is very great–greater, in part, because it brings you results that you don’t expect but do find significant”  Yes so returning or turning towards the basics can yield powerful and unique results when searching for information.

I can imagine using some of these listed primitives (Discovering,Annotating,Comparing, Referring, Sampling, Illustrating, Representing)  in my Painted Book course. I imagine that discovery is the primary primitive method, followed by illustrating.

More to come……