I view myself as an artist as well as an educator.
Theseroles are equal in importance and in many ways directly enrich each other. Asan artist, I strive to synthesize and translate knowledge through the universallanguage that is art. As an educator, I strive to encourage and foster the needto pursue such knowledge and guide them through this translation process.
Through appreciation and active participation in our visual culture, I push mystudents to step out of the role of viewer and into the role of creator. As an educator, my goal is to foster an environment where mystudents can gain the necessary skills to truly appreciate art, create art andbecome producing artists if they so choose. My classroom is a construction of studiopractice, discussion, lecture, and hands on learning. I approach my own studiopractice with the same interdisciplinary style as I do my teaching. Knowledgeis inherently interdisciplinary; ways of seeing, skills, and methods build uponeach other and are applicable across media and subject.
The balance of hands-ondiscovery learning, student-oriented critiques and group discussions thatemphasize social and personal awareness are the fundamental to a beginningartist. Under my instruction, students can take in information, process it, andmanipulate it through their own lens. My students are encouraged to approach art as a form inwhich to explore interests, issues, and themes that relate to them and theirworld. The Carolina Core painting experience is about exploration of materials,subject, and tools. As I teach about these materials, subjects and toolsthroughout art history and implement them via projects, the experienceencourages students to investigate how a variety media can speak differently toa concept and which medium is best to communicate their ideas and how differentmediums have served in such ways. Technical skill must always be the balancing factor toconceptual knowledge. Without technological knowledge, a student will facebarriers to successfully executing their ideas. By embedding the instruction ofskills needed within conceptual prompts for assignments, students get excitedabout the work first, which is then the driver to work through the challengesof learning a new skill.
It is part of the student’s responsibility to employthe techniques that best suit their work, thereby promoting a self-reliance inmaking important decisions.Throughout my experiences as an educator, I have learnedmuch about the practice of teaching. One of the most important aspects I havelearned is that each student is unique. Individual students are driven bydifferent means and to different ends; therefore, there is not a “one size fitsall” approach that will match all students’ needs. What might work for onestudent may not work for another – even an approach that worked for a studentat the beginning level might not work for that same student as they mature.
Consideringthis, I employ a range of different pedagogical methods and work to betterunderstand the needs of individual students and employ varying methods atdifferent points in their development.Through openness, laughter, support, and conversation, Ipromote a climate where my students understand they are free to expressthemselves through their work. One of the most important aspects of my pedagogyis fostering a creative atmosphere that prompts the students to ask questionsabout their work.
For example, in a recent assignment I structured the promptin such a way that the students had to situate themselves in the position of acave man or woman to create a cave painting. They created the materials theywould use authentically to the period and crafted their own cave wall.Immediately after, I juxtaposed cave art with contemporary graffiti art andprompted them to create a culturally relevant version of their cave story indowntown Columbia, SC.
In this environment, my students quickly realize theyare free to explore how materials and processes can be merged and thatdifferent materials carry with them different connotations.I bring my professional experiences into the classroom, notjust as theory, but as the practical knowledge and skills gained throughmentorship and professional practice. Having a strong base of knowledge andexperiences are a good starting point for my philosophy of teaching, however Ifeel that a willingness to be flexible and let my philosophy evolve isimportant. My teaching is informed by my personal and professional growth andtherefore I strive to be well versed in new developments in the field, to be anongoing participant in the art community, and actively exhibiting my artwork.With this evolving knowledge base, I can assure my students they are receivingthe best possible education I can offer.