To me, teaching is a form of collaboration. Students should want to be in school to investigate and learn and the instructor should be willing to work with them individually to open pathways to teachable moments. My approach is to present course material in a variety of ways to promote an atmosphere of active production and self-discovery while gathering information and obtaining new skills. I strive to exemplify this through my own creative activity.
This approach begins in the classroom by demonstrating techniques, discussing craftsmanship, and encouraging critical thinking. I believe in the knowledge and know-how of materials and an awareness of design thinking to be able to realize ideas with skill and intent. However, I also believe in individualized approaches to art making and that rules can be broken. I want to see students enjoying making art, learning, and relishing in creative development.
I seek to foster a personal awareness of the artistic paradigms that have shaped traditional and contemporary creative practices: to be aware of art history and the cross-connections of medias within art; to go out and look at art and compare one’s self to what has been and is being done; to find alignment with other artists and art genres to actively endeavor to discover one’s voice as an artist. In an effort to establish a sense of openness to this pursuit, I often try to connect with a student’s particular field of study or personal interests to draw parallels between those concentrations and the projects presented in class. Ultimately I want students to see the possibilities of not just the objects or installations themselves but the scope of which they can apply these problem solving skills to their livelihood and place amongst peers in the field.
Part of this thrust is to create an environment of openness and experimentation. Creativity leads to mistakes and failure; I encourage students to investigate ideas and materials through trial and error. I provide them with the groundwork and encourage them to ask questions for themselves. The goal is to advance intellectual thought and technical skill; to develop and maintain a personal sense of responsibility to one’s education.
My teaching emphasizes artistic engagement, asking students to look beyond and into the community and the world at large for inspiration. I promote collaboration both within and outside of the program and the institution. I seek to facilitate opportunities for students to work with visiting artists, host workshops, attend conferences, take field trips, and participate in community events. I want students to pursue experiences that are not necessarily taught but discovered; to work with a range of people and peers that engages them in an exploration of art as a lifestyle.
As an educator, I feel that it is important to measure students against standards, meeting deadlines, and critical awareness. So my classes operate on a weekly/monthly schedule of demos, lectures, and due dates. I make myself available to schedule weekly/monthly meetings with students as a group and as individuals to plan and discuss activities that are centered around the execution of professional and creative goals. Mentorship is important in this respect. I enjoy working with students one on one. I work to help them locate and secure opportunities that advance their artistic and professional development. This has been exercised through the roles of Faculty, Advisor, Coordinator, and Program Director and is imbued in the workshops that I have organized, the scholarships that I have created, and my willingness to connect with students as individuals. I place great value on mentorship and my role as a mentor. I want students to succeed.
Finally, I teach by leading an example of a continued record of exhibitions, teaching workshops, and professional development. I promote a practice of creative investigation, life-long learning, and productivity. I want students to see, in me, that living and making, as artists and designers, are reciprocal and that the “work” is not merely objects or items of an occupation, but a lifestyle.