Teaching | Teaching Statement

I am interested in an educational process that demonstrates the value of creative processes, teaches students how art frames and shapes our understanding of the world, and builds student confidence in their problem-solving abilities. I support students in this process by framing the classroom endeavor as practice-based research. Course projects are grounded in core concepts and medium specific methods yet framed around the student’s interests as articulated through analysis and brainstorming assignments. Projects are supported with examples that highlight key themes in the particular medium’s history as well as demonstrations that model techniques. Critical thought is strengthened by connecting projects with canonical art historical moments and assigning reflective exercises that emphasize observation and analysis.

Practice-Based Research and Creative Exploration

I nurture students’ critical inquiry by helping students to formulate questions of personal interest and guiding them through a project-based research process designed to answer those questions.  Projects emphasize explorations of core principles, connect to important historical themes and emphasize iteration and a critical articulation of knowledge gained through the process of making. I assist by providing pertinent background via theory and examples of other’s work while also encouraging students to develop and test their own problem-solving methods. Final projects emphasize refinement of particular moments of interest or growth discovered in prior exploratory assignments. Framing my classes in inquiry stimulates growth for all students and allows for classes with students of differing skill levels to learn from one another.

As an example of this process, I will describe the elements of my video collage project which is part of a sophomore level course that helps students transition from analog to digital media. This project introduces students to artists working with appropriation and collage through video and animation. The project has four parts. Students first pick a poem from a curated list and create a collage that translates the imagery and affect of the poem into one image. They then develop a storyboard which translates the rhythm of the poem into a moving image-based form. They learn how to work with the video capabilities of DSLR cameras and shoot their own footage. They then composite their footage and animations in After Effects. The project introduces them to the rise of collage and its diffusion through other forms of temporal media. It asks them to hone their media skills by focusing on rhythm and pacing while providing complete creative freedom over narrative, structure and content.

Embodied Learning and Technique

Making is an embodied experience that teaches through process. Conceiving of a project and building that project teach different skills which inform one another. In support of the production process I teach technique and craftsmanship. These forms of training teach perseverance and patience and provide a foundation to fall back on while wading through the, at times, messy articulation of ideas. Having spent many years as a fabricator, I believe that technical instruction and craftsmanship play an important role in art education. I teach students to use these skills to articulate ideas. I also teach students that there is meaning in choosing to reject both at times.

‘Connection‘ is the first project in a wearable computing class that teaches students how electronics function, techniques for working with conductive thread and electronic components, as well as a conceptual framework for working with electricity as art making material. Students are asked to use the connectivity of a circuit to think about how electricity can highlight social and conceptual bonds and interactions. The project requires that they practice working with conductive textile and electronic materials in the service of an idea and is the first in a series of 3 quick projects that simultaneously prepare them for larger scale projects and ask them to practice working with new materials and construction techniques.

Critical Reflection

I encourage growth and problem solving by coupling art making with reflective analysis. Most of my classes include a journaling assignment. We begin the class by coming up with a list of elements and principles by which to analyze an artwork whether it is time based, interactive, or 2 or 3 Dimensional.  Term long journaling exercises ask students to use the vocabulary created collectively in the beginning of the class to analyze how the artist made the work and to articulate what specific choices the artist made that the student is attracted to. These analyses are shared with classmates in class in order to build the classroom community, enhance discussion, and introduce students to the varied viewpoints and interests of their peers.

Connection to Historical Movements and Ideas

Projects are grounded in lectures that help students trace the evolution of important ideas in the medium of instruction. For my upper-level media arts survey class on the political, cultural and artistic developments related to media art forms from the late nineteenth through the early twenty-first century students begin with a GIF triptych making project. This project uses the triptych form to make a connection between the medieval innovation of the triptych painting and the early internet innovation of the GIF as evolutions in media that translated earlier forms of artistry into more accessible and easier to distribute forms.

My Pedagogy

Practice-based research instills confidence in students’ problem-solving and way-finding abilities while embodied learning and critical reflection gives students a toolkit for articulating their goals and identifying the techniques which best suit them. My desire to teach students these methods comes from my experiences as a practicing and exhibiting artist. My courses and educational framework stem from a desire to share the pleasures of art making as a practice of creative problem solving, idea generation, and skill development.