ArtStarts in Schools Logo

Carolyn Sullivan

Discipline: Visual Arts
Homebase: Burnaby
Languages: English

I am a commercially trained professional photographer, photographic artist and digital media instructor. I have been doing curriculum development and digital media training with the Vancouver School Board for years. Today, I coordinate the Artist in Residence program for the Vancouver Board of Education. I have also worked on many artist in residence grants as the artist for schools through ArtStarts and the Vancouver School Board. Throughout my residencies I have intertwined three instructional components: Technical, Creative, and Curriculum, each custom designed with the teacher. TECHNICAL: With my strong technology background in photography and digital media, I can instruct the technical components of photography, digital media and web video through the use of pocket and phone cameras, iPads, DSLR cameras and computers. CREATIVE: I want students to engage and explore photography beyond clicking the shutter. I like to encourage students to explore the elements of art using photography, then interpret what they see. CURRICULUM: I have developed workshops for children from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I have also directed photography art integration projects within science, humanities, and social studies. Many photographic projects have also involved field studies.


I have worked with Carolyn Sullivan on three projects over the last few years through the invaluable use of grant money. One was an ArtStarts grant. With Carolyn's knowledge and expertise, we created photo journals depicting the routines in our school, themes around friendship and inclusion as well as staff and PAC directories. These photo journals are still being used today in our classrooms as well as every year at our Welcome to Kindergarten gathering. Carolyn has taught me how to integrate various subjects into art as well as how to view art through a variety of subjects. I witnessed all of my students, along with students with special needs and other output challenges, see their world in new and detailed ways with a different, clearer focus and engage in our lessons in ways that I have never seen before in the 25 years that I have been teaching. Her lessons have uplifted my ability to see teaching and learning opportunities in all of my subjects through a new lens of digital photography and iPad use. Anna Liguori, Grade 3/4 Teacher, Garibaldi Elementary
Carolyn establishes a very good rapport with the students. They listen to and respond to her instructions and suggestions. Students over the years have benefited from Carolyn's expertise through working on a photo-mural project for the third floor of the Banfield Pavilion care center and the creation of three hanging photo montage banners for the Artistic Legacies grant. Carolyn also came into the classroom to document students progress through a second Artistic Legacies grant in 2013-14 as they completed their Open-Hearted Painting Project. Susan Jones, Photography 12 and Advanced Placement Studio Art Teacher, Vancouver Technical Secondary
We created photography tiles, created a slideshow and had cards printed at the VSB print shop. There is no way that I could have covered the amount of material that Carolyn did. She brought an incredible amount of experience with photography and the students now have some skills that will last a lifetime. She taught us about the history and process of photography as well as the storytelling process. We sold these items at our Centennial Celebration. The students were most proud of their work and this project allowed others who struggle with academics to truly shine in photography. The kids who excelled the most seemed to be the ones who struggle with daily academics in class. Jennifer Lynn Billingsley, Grade 5 Teacher, Beaconsfield Elementary

Project Examples

Photojournalism, Documentation or Storytelling with Camera/iPads

Capturing photographs in an essay form reinforces visual literacy, and allows the students to develop some depth in a subject. Self inquiry, integration in the curriculum, personal stories and social issues can all be the starting point of this project. Students learn and develop the technical applications of the equipment the school or students has like camera or iPad plus editing to showcase their story. Comprehension, application, critical thinking and problem solving skills will all be reinforced as students work on cooperative learning skills. Tangible outcomes can vary from an individual student's printed photo to a group project like a murals, book , slide show, gallery show.

Photographic Art and the Elements

Studying the Elements of Art and capturing them in photography reinforces visual literacy. The simplicity of learning about the individual elements brings out the imagination and allows the students to really see and understand the elements are used in all forms of Art. Students will explore the elements in their outside environment close to the school or on field studies, as well as create and photograph live art, assemblies within their classroom. Using a photographic sketchbook the students will create mixed media and drawing exercises that can be adapted into the project to reinforce the elements, and strengthen the vision of the elements in design. Photography integration with a curriculum area of study can easily be included and encouraged. I can also include mindful exercises with in this project. Tangible outcomes can vary from an individual student's printed photo to a group project like a mural, book and slide show. The grade level and the length of the grant will determine how many of the elements we can cover. This project is great for student self inquiry, for tactile learners and for students with special needs and other output challenges. Plus it allows for development in cooperative learning.

Browse Artists in the Classroom Directory