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Sara Graham

Discipline: Visual Arts
Languages: English
Contact Me: Email , Web

While my independent studio practice has evolved over the last twenty-three years, I have produced a collection of diverse bodies of work that share a concern with the images, issues and ideas that surround and make up the cities we live in or those that we imagine. I maintain an ongoing interest in how people and communities shape and are shaped by the numerous systems and networks within the everyday lives of cities, in how people move within and around cities and especially in the visible and invisible infrastructure that lie, below, above and behind the built and unbuilt forms that together create urban environments. My primary aim as an instructor is to encourage and facilitate the development of students by creating a supportive environment for creation and learning. I believe that my job is to design and provide courses that are challenging, interesting, current and relevant both with respect to the individual needs and interests of students and with respect to how their developing practices relate to larger cultural trends and issues outside of the studio.


Sara first approached me early in the school year to see if I was interested in collaborating on a cross-curricular project together. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to learn from such a creative artist. We began to design a plan based off our curricular outcomes and student interests. Our learners were inspired by our classroom read aloud, City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. This story is about an underground city whose power source is rapidly failing and leaves them in darkness with few working lightbulbs left. Sara led us on a remarkable journey that was ultimately titled Shadow City. She scaffolded lessons to meet the needs of our diverse learners and demonstrated patience and empathy every step of the way. Every week the learners would learn a new skill and get time to explore with their Shadow City. It was in this way that she had a seamless way of incorporating both structure and flexibility into the vision of the project. To celebrate the end of our project, our learners set up their Shadow City in an empty classroom and invited all the students from the school to come visit. They used flashlights to walk through the city landscape and explore the connection between light, shadow, perspective, and scale. In my 13-year career as a teacher, I have never received such amazing feedback from colleagues, parents, and most importantly from the learners themselves on how impactful this project was for them. Lauren MacLean, teacher, Meadowbrook Elementary
My time with Sara was profound. Sara’s joy for working with children, enthusiasm to collaborate and plan alongside our classroom experience, willingness to take initiative by offering suggestions and making connections beyond our classroom walls was invaluable. Her ability to conceptualize and vision truly took this educational experience to the next level. I wholeheartedly believe this artistic journey transformed our learners thinking in ways that will stand out for them in their educational journeys. I know having the opportunity to work alongside Sara has shifted my own teaching practice and has deepened my values of integrating the arts into the classroom. Harpreet Esmail, teacher, Meadowbrook Elementary

Project Examples


"Copperbrook" is a fictitious mining town that ties the curriculum with mining and minerals. After a visit to the Britannia Mines, and learning about tunnels, we began exploring a tunnel system. The watercolours focus on creating a complicated tunnel system, then exploring 3 dimensional drawing to create the illusion of depth. Then adding colour to depict the different levels and ages of the tunnel system.

Mineral Land

"Mineral Land" developed from the curriculum's Big Idea of how we shape the local environment , and the local environment shapes who we are and how we live. We explored parts of a city, buildings that make up a city, mapping project that lead to the creation of a 3-D model of the fictitious city called Mineral Land. I worked with the same class for an entire year to explore the concept of community both socially and physically. This was a multi media project, that included pop-up book, emotional mapping, mental mapping photobook, and "gallery installation" of the 3-D city.

Shadow City

"Shadow City" was inspired by the novel entitled "The City of Ember" that the class was reading. The story is about Ember, an underground city threatened by aging infrastructure that has frequent blackouts. I thought it would be interesting to create a city was in darkness but only viewed through the activation of light (flashlights.) I began the project by showing how shadows are created through the manipulation of a light source and through the placement of objects. I emphasised how the best shadows are created from an interplay of light and interesting forms, therefore the structure that they would be making needed to have interesting holes and comprise of interesting shapes. We started with constructing a test building that was the same for everyone and I demonstrated how combining cut paper, paper folding and mylar could create different patterns and shadows. The students then created their own building and added details to create unique buildings. We tested with flashlights so that the students could see over time what their building looked like as shadows and if they needed to add more holes or forms. I also showed everyone how to create a simple shadow puppet that would be able to interact with our shadow city. Finally, using all of the scrap paper and found sticks we created trees and different aspect of nature to populate our city.

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