Project Spotlight: Anderson Ranch Visiting Artists Series Curriculum

CSA Education was awarded the opportunity to work on a really unique and creative project for Anderson Ranch Arts Center in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Anderson Ranch is a year-round visual arts not-for-profit organization for aspiring artists and renowned artists from across the country. 

Anderson Ranch approached CSA to help them create a curriculum for classroom teachers for Anderson Ranch’s LatinX Visiting Artists Series. The series for 2022 features a printmaker and a new media artist. A key request from Anderson Ranch was that we incorporate an interactive element into the curriculum above and beyond more traditional elements. The challenge, and a fun one, was to figure out and implement what that was going to be and what technology would best serve to deliver that piece of the curriculum. For each artist unit, CSA created:

  • A Unit Outline to highlight objectives and standards, vocabulary, and the topics of the lessons in each unit
  • Three sequential Lesson Plans that provide background on the artist, examples of the artist’s work, and incorporate hands-on activities for students that relate to the artist’s work
  • An interactive Unit Module that serves as an engaging way for teachers to introduce each artist that consisted of video interviews and interactive activities students could engage in

A significant element to the project was the extensive collaboration between the client, Content, and Design teams at CSA. This allowed for a free flow of ideas and a solid building of trust, essential for success. The teams worked together to produce two cohesive units, combining additions and suggestions from both groups. This resulted in a dynamic product that CSA is extremely proud of and the client was ecstatic with. Following are some details about the various components.

Unit Outlines

Per the scope of the project, the CSA Content team created various planning documents that included an overview of the unit, history and background information about the artist and their work, learning goals and objectives, and materials. The outlines were aligned to Colorado State Standards and written for 5th grade.

Working collaboratively, the Design team prototyped and laid out the materials, making sure the materials were easy to read, followed a logical pattern that was repeatable, and highlighted key elements of importance per Editorial guidelines. In addition, the Design team analyzed and evaluated Anderson Ranch’s existing branding and visual dialogue. The analysis and evaluation informed the layout and design of the printable PDF lesson plans to assure brand continuity and integrity through the development of color palette, typography, graphical devices, etc. 

All the work done creatively for the Unit Outline also informed the look and feel for the Lesson Plans and the interactive piece. 

A collage of Unit Outlines

Lesson Plans

The CSA Content team was tasked with writing and designing three lessons for each artist. This part was a lot of fun, but also challenging as each artist’s work was very different from each other. It was important to establish repeatable “patterns” that could be carried forward as new artists were added to the program.

Each lesson was required to be engaging and center around the artists, their inspiration(s), processes, and their works. Lesson plans included an overview, learning goals, background information, relevant vocabulary to support the lesson, discussion prompts, step-by-step hands-on learning activities (that were feasible in an average classroom), and an extension activity for students interested in going beyond. The lessons were for grade 5, with modifications for different grade levels and abilities. The lessons were designed to be taught in a series, in a determined order. 

While the parameters were challenging, this is where CSA’s collaboration with the client team was utilized the most and greatly effective. CSA and the client were able to bounce ideas off of each other and brainstorm to reach an end result that met all the criteria.

A collage of Lesson Plans

Interactive Unit Modules

When a client comes to CSA and says they want something interactive, that really does open the door to a lot of questions. There are just SO MANY ways you can achieve “interactive” in today’s tech-heavy world. 

Before we did anything, we first had to meet and define what interactive meant to the client. From there, we discussed how we were delivering the interactive piece, the parameters around that delivery, and the costs and time to implement that part. We eventually landed on using PowerPoint (PPT), which allowed us to create an independent file that was platform agnostic. Plus, PowerPoint has very robust capabilities. However, we had to be careful, as some of those capabilities don’t always play correctly or can cause technical issues. There was a lot of additional research done during the creation of the interactive piece.

There was one interactive unit module for each artist. As we were integrating interview videos into the slides in addition to interactive activities, CSA provided interview questions that the client team used when interviewing and producing the artist videos (see below). This interview was an essential part of the module, as it guided a lot of the content.

Each interactive module included AI-generated narration; various imagery of the artists’ work and elements that related to the work and/or creative process; animations where applicable; on-screen text and up to five interactive elements; clickable multiple-choice items; puzzle items, etc. 

Again, there was a high degree of collaboration between Content and Design teams as we discussed what was, and was not, possible.

Below you will see some screenshots of the PPT slides and some of the videos incorporated into the slides. 

Meet the Visiting Artists

Ricky Armendariz – Printmaker

Ricky Armendariz is a printmaker and painter originally from El Paso, Texas. He uses traditional paints and non-traditional power tools to carve or burn images into his paintings.

A collage of Ricky Armendariz's work

You can learn more about Ricky Armendariz in the following video. 

Rafael Fajardo – New Media Artist

Rafael Fajardo is an artist, designer, researcher, and educator who has been creating video games as an art form since the early 2000s.

A collage of Rafael Fajardo's work

You can learn more about Rafael Fajardo in the following video.


Overall, CSA is very proud of the work completed for Anderson Ranch Arts Center. In addition to the technical expertise we were able to bring to the project, we are also thrilled at the opportunity we had to showcase and apply our creativity, and proud of the communication and teamwork between CSA and the client team. It truly was a collaboration that resulted in a beautiful, successful visiting artists series. The client was so happy they have already begun planning for the next set of visiting artists and CSA’s involvement with them. CSA looks forward to future projects with Anderson Ranch that will allow the team to grow their relationship and produce additional creative projects. To learn more about CSA’s curriculum development and creative services, please visit our website, or contact ib*****@cs****.com.