I believe that conceptual ideas are equally as important as craft. An individual’s artistic development further substantiates the connection between concept and craft. I continuously adapt and adjust my pedagogy to be reflective, reactionary and considerate of the fluid nature of contemporary art practice and education, both of which I view as holistic and responsive to internal and external influences.
An honest and enthusiastic interest in the arts begins with students feeling that they have a contribution to make to any discussion, and I foster understanding in my classes through a compelling presentation of course material and taking the time to get to know each student’s interests and personal challenges. I try to incorporate what I know about each student into my lesson plans, through relevant contemporary artworks and demonstrations. Classroom discussion has a foundation in mutual respect for alternative points of view, and I offer a variety of learning tools such as readings, visiting artist lectures, hardware and software instruction, and opportunities to visit exhibitions and curators in order to nurture a well-rounded discourse.
Critically important is the possibility for students to have a chance to study both historical and contemporary art at length. Undertaking this study is imperative to the development of their eye and challenges each student to articulate their ideas in a thoughtful manner. I gear my earlier assignments towards developing patience in seeing and making. For example, introductory photo students have assignments where they print the same photograph using each print correction filter. They also have a time of day assignment where they photograph the same scene multiple times over a 48 hour period. Introductory video students are encouraged to make a silent piece for their first video in order to learn the importance of visual pacing. This notion of patience can be difficult in the digital era, where recording video or taking hundreds of photographs can happen so quickly.
Like many studio art courses, I employ a collaborative process of peer review as one example of critique. Each student presents his or her work to the class and articulates the artistic, conceptual and technical attributes of their project. The class contributes to this process with their diverse cultural and historical points of view. This fosters a sense of meaning in the imagery and presentation that leads to each student discovering their voice. I teach students constructive methods for sharing ideas and criticism utilizing a description, analysis, interpretation, judgment model that encourages engaging, productive critique and carries over into an approach to writing critical essays.
I have had the good fortune of being influenced by a set of mentors who challenged me to think critically, to set high academic standards, and to value trust, both in myself and while receiving criticism from peers. I keep those lessons close and try to instill these same characteristics when I am instructing students that have socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic challenges at a variety of skill levels. University study is where students are taught how to think critically, and my role as their mentor is to encourage a lifetime of learning, questioning, relating and enjoyment.