Tim Walsh: Paintings and...






After finishing graduate school in art, I taught drawing, painting, or photography in various venues (college, community center, penal institution, public school) for twelve years. I then became an English as a Second Language teacher (in public schools, community colleges and universities, community-based organizations, a refugee camp in the Philippines, a binational center in Mexico). I received a Ph.D. degree in pedagogy in 2001. In 2016, I retired from the paid teaching profession, but I continue to teach irregularly, as a volunteer.
I teach to learn and to serve others. In all of my teaching, I try to help learners to link their visual and linguistic experience. Below, I’ve included some photographs of projects and activities that my students and I have completed over the years.

Working in my studio, youths of Mexican heritage are learning to make traditional Mexican pull toys. They are also designing an illustrated manual to teach other children how to make these colorful toys, based on models created by Mexican artist Hanni Sager.


Students in a beginning English As a Second Language literacy class for adults in San Francisco took photos of one another on a field trip, then modified the photos, adding drawings of their own, to create brief letters to someone they knew. Each student in a group of three created her or his own letter, and read it orally in class. This author focused on illustrating and listing a group of items, creating a domestic setting for the figures--one that didn't exist in our classroom.

Children (and their teachers) in a bicultural institute in Mexico made kites and decorated them, after viewing images of traditional Mexican masks. We discussed their projects in English, their emergent second language.

Children and adults in a California public school worked with me to create this ceramic tile mural (3 views here). Participants followed the theme ("Where are we going?") and created a "permanent quilt" (they had viewed a textile quilt in their local museum) that depicted what each person thought he or she would be doing in twenty years. Students wrote about the project in their journals. and the mural was installed permanently on an exterior wall of the school.


I designed and painted a mural for a binational center in Guadalajara, Mexico, on the theme of the international migration of the monarch butterfly. Here, American and Mexican novice assistants work together on final details of the piece.

Immigrant students in a New York middle school created a newspaper of their own, then developed a "manual" for newspaper publishing, so that future ESL students--or students in "mainstream" classes--could understand the learning process. They used Polaroid cameras to illustrate each step of the process, providing an important literacy aid to their readers.


One of 32 Chinese middle school students whom I taught to use materials I'd designed to color and personalize images, and develop English literacy in the process of doing so. Each learner in this program in Nanjing selected line drawings that she or he enjoyed the most (out of eight the class had completed) for a final photographic portrait. This boy chose "What do you like to do at night?" and "What do you like to do outdoors?"


In a project I devised as a teacher educator in a New York graduate school, a high school English as a Second Language teacher in East Harlem used and evaluated materials I'd created, encouraging her immigrant students to draw their memories of a piece of literature, then write about them. This student embellished the simple line drawing of an airplane with visual details from a story of immigration studied in class; then, she wrote about the content of her drawing.



An example of a Vietnamese refugee kindergartener's work. This child was about to be retained, until he and I found a way to show his teacher in an upstate New York school that his knowledge of drawing and coloring were highly advanced, and that he could learn to use that knowledge in reading and writing. In working with both children and adults in various settings, I've found that visual literacy and textual literacy are closely related. Nevertheless, visual literacy remains undervalued by many people in positions of educational and political authority.


Students in a New York City fifth grade worked with me to create shadow puppets. They used the puppets to create dramatic skits on the theme of "solving a problem." Both native speakers of English and ESL students worked together to present their work.



In an ESL class that I taught in New York, children from South Asia, Latin America, and Europe listened to an Indian folk tale ("The Two Parrots"), re-wrote the story, then created a dramatic production of their own. They designed a set, made costumes, then performed the piece. The drama was recorded on videotape and shown to their "mainstream" classes.


Over the years, I have received numerous grants for my efforts in teaching. Among the grantors have been:

The City University of New York
Ministerio de Educación, State of Jalisco, Mexico
New York City Teachers Consortium
The Dutchess County (NY) Area Fund
California Department of Education
The Polaroid Corporation


(2009) Art Activities for ESL Learners and Teachers. The 39th Annual NYS TESOL Conference. White Plains, NY.
(2007). Aesthetic/Social Literacy in Adult Education.A workshop presented at Service Employes International Union Local 1199, New York, NY.
(2006). Read My Voice: Linking Art, Literacy and Language Learners. 8th Annual Conference, Pennsylvania Chapter, National Association for Multicultural Education. Scranton, PA.
(2003). Art, identity, and teaching second language literacy. The Tenth International Conference on Literacy and Education, London, England.
(2002). Which content?: Drawing, teaching and ESL literacy. The 32nd Annual NYS TESOL Conference. Saratoga Springs, New York.
(1998). I see what you mean: Art activities for language learners (and teachers). New York State TESOL Conference. Buffalo, NY.
(1990). It’s my picture…. Annual conference, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. San Francisco, CA.
(1985). “Using Art Materials in Teaching Basic Skills,” Annual conference, Mexican Teachers of English as a Second Language, Guadalajara, Mexico.


Master of Fine Arts, Painting, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Doctor of Philosophy, Multilingual/Multicultural Education, New York University, New York City
Master of Arts, English/TESOL, San Francisco State University, San Francisco

© Tim Walsh 2017 contact:timwalsh@timwalsh.us