I am an artist as well as an educator. Neither identity
overshadows the other, as they are inseparable and enrich one another. As an
educator, I strive for my students to synthesize and translate knowledge.
Knowledge brings about understanding. Understanding enhances the pursuit of
knowledge. Through active engagement in their visual culture, I push my
students to become creators of the world around them instead of passive
As an educator, my goal is to foster an environment where my
students can gain the necessary skills to truly appreciate art, create art and
become producing artists if they so choose. My classroom is a construction of studio
practice, discussion, lecture, and hands on learning. I approach my own studio
practice with the same interdisciplinary style as I do my teaching. Knowledge
is inherently interdisciplinary; ways of seeing, skills, and methods build upon
each other and are applicable across media and subject. The balance of hands-on
discovery learning, student-oriented critiques and group discussions that
emphasize social and personal awareness are the fundamental to a beginning
artist. Under my instruction, students can take in information, process it, and
manipulate it through their own lens.
My students are encouraged to approach art as a form in
which to explore interests, issues, and themes that relate to them and their
world. The Carolina Core painting experience is about exploration of materials,
subject, and tools. As I teach about these materials, subjects and tools
throughout art history and implement them via projects, the experience
encourages students to investigate how a variety media can speak differently to
a concept and which medium is best to communicate their ideas and how different
mediums have served in such ways.
Technical skill must always be the balancing factor to
conceptual knowledge. Without technological knowledge, a student will face
barriers to successfully executing their ideas. By embedding the instruction of
skills needed within conceptual prompts for assignments, students get excited
about the work first, which is then the driver to work through the challenges
of learning a new skill. It is part of the student’s responsibility to employ
the techniques that best suit their work, thereby promoting a self-reliance in
making important decisions.
Throughout my experiences as an educator, I have learned
much about the practice of teaching. One of the most important aspects I have
learned is that each student is unique. Individual students are driven by
different means and to different ends; therefore, there is not a “one size fits
all” approach that will match all students’ needs. What might work for one
student may not work for another – even an approach that worked for a student
at the beginning level might not work for that same student as they mature. Considering
this, I employ a range of different pedagogical methods and work to better
understand the needs of individual students and employ varying methods at
different points in their development.
Through openness, laughter, support, and conversation, I
promote a climate where my students understand they are free to express
themselves through their work. One of the most important aspects of my pedagogy
is fostering a creative atmosphere that prompts the students to ask questions
about their work. For example, in a recent assignment I structured the prompt
in such a way that the students had to situate themselves in the position of a
cave man or woman to create a cave painting. They created the materials they
would use authentically to the period and crafted their own cave wall.
Immediately after, I juxtaposed cave art with contemporary graffiti art and
prompted them to create a culturally relevant version of their cave story in
downtown Columbia, SC. In this environment, my students quickly realize they
are free to explore how materials and processes can be merged and that
different materials carry with them different connotations.
I bring my professional experiences into the classroom, not
just as theory, but as the practical knowledge and skills gained through
mentorship and professional practice. Having a strong base of knowledge and
experiences are a good starting point for my philosophy of teaching, however I
feel that a willingness to be flexible and let my philosophy evolve is
important. My teaching is informed by my personal and professional growth and
therefore I strive to be well versed in new developments in the field, to be an
ongoing participant in the art community, and actively exhibiting my artwork.
With this evolving knowledge base, I can assure my students they are receiving
the best possible education I can offer.