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Teaching Philosophy 2020
As a maker, educator, and co-learner, I have worked in a variety of diverse and challenging positions. I see the roles as separate but equal, one practice informing the other. My teaching philosophy revolves around three categories ; making, teaching and learning. I see my role as a mentor, guide and co-learner, rather than a critic or judge. I have been an educator for most of my life and believe in leading by example with intensive listening and respect, open dialogue between faculty, staff and students.
I personally thrive in environments that foster freedom of thought and ideas, and I enforce these parameters in my daily practice by reading, writing and creating art. I look to research and literature such as the anthropologist Jane Desmond’s “Displaying Death and Animalting Life”and Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s book, “The Undercommons, Fugitive Planning and Black Study,” to keep my language and understanding of inclusiveness at the forefront of discussion. The open exchange of ideas between students in this safe environment cultivates an animated energy present in the very nature of the space. In my 15 years of teaching, it’s clear communication is the starting and ending point of any successful endeavor. The free exchange of ideas between teachers and students is only the beginning. Collaboration between teachers and administration and support staff is the scaffolding that allows students to evolve into critical thinkers charged with purpose. In positions of leadership I work to advance access through community outreach and curatorial activism.
With a scientific approach to teaching, I encourage investigation and critical thinking to join peers through collaboration that involves conversation and critique. My pedagogical style is best gleaned through my work with La Estacion Gallery where I lead 2 gallery interns through the process of preparing a non-traditional space for a variety of performances, workshops, sound experiences and video presentations. The interns execute all aspects of redying the exhibition space from patching holes in the wall to building pedestals, installing track lighting and curating the flow of viewer traffic. I set in motion clear outlined goals and expectations that are transparent, then modify and evolve units to find the right balance of material experimentation, cultural awareness and personal expression.
Working with materials with one’s hands is a time-tested way of both understanding and shaping the environment. Ceramics, glass, metals, fibers and other material oriented methods present students with an opportunity to experience power. Power to mold from the base up a vision, a plan and articulate the desired outcome which develops into freedom for making. The knowledge it takes to build something from “the ground up” is not simply learned by obtaining the correct information. Designing an object to serve a purpose and the ability to look at an object and describe what it is made of, or how it was constructed is a valuable skill that is easy to appreciate, yet takes layers of cognitive and creative skills. When students learn to make effective decisions by facing artistic challenges, they are building cognitive, physical, and social development. This is where my teaching and artistic practice go hand in hand. The more I am in a classroom surrounded by the energy of creation, the more empowered I become to take risks in my studio. There is value in experimental spaces where materials are tried out and examined. This type of media manipulation and exploration fosters creativity; it involves training the hands to manipulate, and learn through practice and muscle memory as much as intellectual understanding. I believe aesthetics and craftsmanship are necessary prerequisites for art-making, and that fluency with the advantages of a specific material will lead to freedom of expression and conceptual usage.