I like to think of my class as a collaborative research team in which materials and ideas collide, enmesh, and expand. In the studio we are perpetually conducting experiments—the classroom serves as the arena in which we share the results of these experiments with one another. Within this framework, every student’s background, voice, and vision are an important and necessary contribution to the dynamic and education of the whole team. Thus, my role in the classroom is to act both as facilitator and active participant—I share my knowledge and experience while engendering the participation and expression of each student. I teach technical skills and emphasize developing a critical vocabulary about art, but more importantly, I encourage students to make art by using those skill sets in tandem with personal initiative, reflection, and intent. I am less interested in training experts of techniques and media and more concerned with encouraging explorers of materials and ideas—students who begin to understand their work habits, interests, and budding artistic practice, hence discovering a personal methodology for creating art.
My goal as a teacher is to create a space that not only supports art making but the discourse surrounding art making—from historical and contemporary issues in the field to the student’s role and potential as an artist in society today. To this end, I approach my classes as studio-seminars, incorporating cross-disciplinary readings, slideshows, screenings, news, and current events into each class period for discussion. As a group we analyze and critique readings and art, thus developing a language for talking about the work of our peers as well as contemporary artists. Through writing artist statements and leading critiques about their artwork, students learn to effectively communicate ideas while developing the ability to reflect upon their decisions and choices throughout the art making process.
I support my students’ creation of art by cultivating a culture where respect, risk-taking, and hard work are valued. Moreover, I seek to empower them as capable and confident artists who have the skills to access the information and resources they need to realize their artistic work. Whether in a gallery looking at a video projection or sitting on the subway staring at a blur of advertisements, I hope my students employ a more critical stance towards visual information and the world around them. In the end, I consider myself a successful teacher when students realize their potential and responsibility as creators of images, objects, and events in the world.