Episode 44: Flavia Zuñiga-West & Sydney Snyder: Adding Voices

Adding Voices began as a free virtual conference for art educators of color and allies, founded by Flavia Zuñiga-West. Soon after the first conference, one of the presenters, Sydney Snyder, came on board as a co-organizer for future conferences and editor and contributor to the Patreon resources. Their newsletter for patrons is almost a misnomer – it’s more like a beautifully designed virtual magazine with clickable links, curated images, articles and carefully developed lesson plans that include pre-learning resources for art educators and contextual information about the artists they feature.

It was such a pleasure talking with Flavia and Sydney and seeing their dynamic. I love how both Flavia and Sydney resisted becoming teachers despite it being sort of in their bones. It was wonderful to hear more about their art practices as well as their paths to teaching and creating Adding Voices. 

We got into questions of conceptual work versus craft and why they’re often pitted against each other. We talked about identity and the planting and harvesting of self. Flavia talked beautifully about her children and the process of parenting and teaching as akin to sculpture, gently shaping these individuals. This episode is a bit long, but it is so worth it! 

Flavia making art!

Flavia Zuñiga-West is a full time middle school Visual Arts teacher at an independent school in Los Angeles, CA. She has been teaching for 9 years and is a speaker, advocate, and mama of two. She has worked with the American Alliance of Museums and has taught art in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. She earned her MA in Museum Studies from New York University and her BFA in Drawing & Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Flavia utilizes frameworks such as critical multiculturalism, critical race theory, and Black feminist theory to develop pedagogical and curricular strategies for art education. She is the founder of the Adding Voices Conference, the first ever conference to focus solely on issues of culturally responsive pedagogy in the visual arts and to create a community for art educators of color and allies.

Flavia is a curriculum writer, presenter, artist, and advocate who co-authors Adding Voices Patreon with Sydney Snyder, which offers a newsletter & curriculum focusing on anti-racist culturally responsive art pedagogy. Most recently Flavia was a keynote speaker at Moore College of Art Design discussing the practice and theory of Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Art Classroom. 

Sydney with her “Poojazzles”

Sydney Snyder is an artist and art educator living in Los Angeles, CA. She oversees a TAB/choice-based studio at an inclusive model school where learners of all physical and intellectual abilities work side by side all day. This is Sydney’s third year teaching in a TAB studio and tenth year teaching art in a school setting. Sydney also works as a co-conspirator at Adding Voices with founder Flavia Zuñiga-West, creating curriculum resources, editing newsletters, and organizing events. She brings her experience in inclusive model education and adaptive arts to the resources shared through Adding Voices. 

In her own studio practice, Sydney currently enjoys working with glitter, yarn, felt, and dye to create happy, soft, colorful, and sparkly works. Sydney often shares free curriculum resources for teachers, parents, and young artists on her website under “Teaching Resources.”  

A peek at Flavia’s cornhusk work


Sydney’s handmade pom poms