Educational and Artistic Philosophy           

 

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

 

I am an artist, an activist, and a teacher…Artist defined as one who practices or cultivates a skill….Activist defined as an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause ….and Teacher defined as one who facilitates understanding and instruction. Working at this intersection I promote participation through an exploration of sustainability in our lives, relevant to human creativity ,wellness and vibrant cultural progress, to create spaces for critically reshaping our tools (perceptual and material) necessary to manifest art as a lived experience.  Issues of accessibility and social responsibility are a primary consideration in fostering an environment that values self-reflexivity and diverse modes of knowledge acquisition. As an educator I work to understand the psychophysical connection people have to the spaces they inhabit, or rather the culture of how we understand ourselves in relationship to the world and the problems we face.  I aim to imbue the value of each student’s personal lived experience as it relates to art as a daily practice and desire to understand how I can facilitate learning that enacts freedom, possibility, and transformation in each student’s world.

I believe students should be challenged to exceed their own expectations by setting a standard of excellence that is both high, yet within reach. Whether teaching technique or other art- theory or critical thinking courses, I both practice and emphasize rigor and a heightened sense of mental presence with the belief that students will become better equipped, well-versed, inventive, and engaged citizens within the field of art and our society. I aim to challenge students by structuring stimulating classes and coursework, cultivating student engagement, and providing an environment rich in critical engagement and rigorous creative thinking. It is my greatest hope that students will transfer this work ethic to all their endeavors—academic and otherwise—as a personal mantra for self-improvement, engaged living, and personal sustainability.

 

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand. –Chinese proverb

 

In any environment where we are all learning together no one individual holds the key to all knowledge. I believe that we are all both students and teachers. Though I play a significant leadership/facilitator role, I value the student mind. I offer opportunity for investigations and experiential intelligence and place importance on the participation of each person in our learning community. By creating a supportive, collaborative, and fertile environment for student’s growth, as well as my own, I open a dialogue for self discovery.  This alternative social structure for class, establishes a platform wherein students are asked to join me in experience towards knowledge production.  As an educator, I find that when students are assisted in making connections to answer their own questions, investigations and material experiences, they recognize the potential power and depth in the creative process.  Additionally, learning about individual students’ experiences and material realities in order to develop trusting relationships and address how their life experience affects their questions and learning is a priority in my classroom and as a mentor. 

 

From a technical perspective in a Visual Arts curriculum, one must have both a conceptual and a practical toolbox for understanding and creating. In my current classes on Conceptual Materials Approaches and 3-D Design, I focus first on understanding the practical aspects of material form and function (wood, metal, concrete, stone, paper, natural materials, non-traditional art material etc.) followed by an in depth study of tools (both power and hand) and fasteners (joinery, nails, adhesives, tape, rope, string etc). These exercises are followed by explorations of space and the articulated object’s relationship to the body and within the built environment. After gaining an understanding of the possibility of materials, we study histories of functional and conceptual sculpture, installation, and craft to provide inspiration and direction to their own personal inquiries through the sculpted/fabricated form. I seek not to provide students with answers to their questions of how to make “good” or “interesting” art but to provide them with all of the tools possible to both generate and answer their own questions through the creative process.  

 

Art possesses the capacity to embody both a question and an answer to most any issue. I am dedicated to both practicing and cultivating interdisciplinary research through multiple methodologies and modes of learning centered on the creative process and critical thinking. Inspiration can emerge from exercises as diverse as listening, writing, sketching, academic style research, and conversation. Through encouraging an integrated practice-based research and knowledge acquisition within a critical framework, we can generate and consider questions of collaboration, community, power, self-reflexivity, and artistic practice. This offers an opportunity for the media to emerge from the questions. 

 

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