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Teaching statement, courses and student work.

Teaching Statement

 

"In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
   -- George Orwell

"Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth."
   -- Pablo Picasso

"No experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others."
   -- Rainer Maria Rilke

 

As an educator I try to inspire learning and curiosity by creating a classroom environment were students can develop their imagination, creativity and innovation. I work to stimulate their imaginations and to help them understand that creativity is a process that strives to create original ideas of value, while innovation is simply putting creativity into practice. I encourage students to work hard to improve their craft, learn new technical skills, enrich their knowledge of history and theory, and continue to investigate what it means to be a working artist. I bring an interdisciplinary approach to the making of art, and I ask my students to consider how images, ideas and technologies can and often do change the world, and how they have a responsibility as did those in the past, to always consider the effects of what they make and do.

I help students develop the skill of learning how to learn, to be ambitious, and to not just stop with new techniques, but to develop independent critical thinking, as well as a thought process that allows them to solve problems both in and outside the classroom. Learning technical skills can be very deceptive, as it is easy to want to know the latest technologies without understanding the history and theory behind their development. The use of technology that encourages freedom, rather than control, is important to me in my own research, and is expressed in my teaching as I have students use free and open source software as much as possible. The philosophy of free software is a good model for learning about the empowering potential of art and technology through collaboration. Free software means free as in freedom, not free as in no cost. To have the freedom to look at the code and understand how it works, to have the ability to make changes, and to share those changes with others is exactly how successful education works.

Collaborative exercises, group discussions, and critique, encourage students to explore their shared values and beliefs which helps them to develop trust and empathy with one another. Both trust and empathy are necessary in creating a community where students can successfully take risks, explore, and experiment. With experimentation there is the risk of failure, but a successful classroom community will support and embrace such failure as part of the creative process, encouraging everyone to learn from mistakes.

Through hands-on exploration and an iterative process of individual and collaborative projects my students develop their creativity and the skills to remain flexible, adaptable and learning long after they leave their formal educations behind. The basis of my teaching is made up of traditional and new ideas about how best to become an artist and critical thinker. I emphasize to my students the importance of observation, drawing and design. Today almost everyone uses digital technologies at some point within their creative process, resulting in an idea that affects us all. This idea can be stated simply that once media is digital, it is also computer data. The implications of such a simple statement should not be underestimated. I want my students to fully understand that when a digital image is being altered in an image editor such as Photoshop, the media is being changed, and so is the computer data. This data is maleable and allows for automation due to the fact it is modular and variable in nature.

Critique is one of the most important methods of assessment used in my classes. Students learn the verbal skills to describe and analyze their own work and the work of others. I often remind students that creation is a separate process from critique, and they can not be done simultaneously. An important part of the learning process is for students to develop their intuition and critical thinking, and to realize that they are not just sitting in a room of peers, but are active participants in an ongoing 65,000 year tradition of making art.

I am committed to diversity and recognize the challenges faced by women and other minorities. I consistently work to give these students a positive and welcoming experience both inside and outside the classroom. I actively include diversity within my classes by consciously including examples of both women and minority artists and scholars in my lectures and presentations. My indirect teaching experience has given me the opportunity to mentor a variety of students working to overcome the challenges of first generation college students, international students, LGBTQ students, students of color, and women.

We live in an amazing moment in time, where people carry mobile devices that we refer to as a smartphone. Twenty-five years ago, you needed to be a newspaper publisher, or a film or tv studio to do what this mobile device can do with an Internet connection. One of the challenges of our time is that these technologies promise free expression, and yet ironically they seem to only produce the tightening of already existing corporate and government control. It is through the understanding of the history and theory which has led to this present moment in time that students become fully prepared as artists and designers for our rapidly changing future.

For me teaching and research exists in a symbiotic relationship and my arts practice is a personal inquiry into fundamental questions about our values, ideas, fears and dreams. I am interested in how the humanities and technology shape our individuality and communities, and how the arts and humanities can inspire us to ask who we are and what our lives might mean.

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