My teaching practice is designed to help students develop their innate capacities for expressive communication. I focus on art practice as a means to explore the larger field of visual culture that now touches and affects almost every aspect of human experience. The convergence of electronic art, media and technology is dynamically transforming our society, and it is the role of the educator to act not only as authority, but facilitator in directing students towards appropriate information in order to develop their individual talents and strengths. Students take the skills they learn in my classes (the development of visual and technical skills; how to understand content and meaning in images; the historical, social and political contexts; and an ability to conceptualize, develop, execute and discuss their ideas) to produce work that best communicates these ideas.
Creating connections between studio art practice and other fields of study or areas of interest is imperative, pushing students to think beyond their own experience in order to engage with a diverse and networked world. I have always been attracted to interdisciplinary practices and innovation in my own work, and have found that students benefit from a diversity of perspectives that critically engage their projects. My courses have attracted students from a wide range of disciplines, including computer science, human computer interaction, architecture, mechanical engineering, marketing and business.
As an educator, it is essential to detect where a student’s strengths lie, and encourage those skills while improving others. I believe that students learn best through a variety of presentation types of course material, and when these ideas and techniques are applied. Reading, elaboration through lectures and demonstrations, projects, student-led discussion and presentation all function as tools to address every type of learner. Hands-on projects, both individual and group, help apply their knowledge of what has been discussed in the classroom. Any group of students will benefit the most from honest, constructive criticism and support in the development of their projects, so I encourage peer learning and collaboration where appropriate. I strive to foster an intellectually open and equal environment in the classroom with fair discussion and constructive criticism of projects. Both moderated and more immediate, informal feedback can be valuable. I make sure to allow time at the end of class during office hours and via email to address additional needs.
With teaching digital media, I have found that too often students feel computers cancel the need for a strong foundation in art and design. In my courses, I stress the use of technology as a tool to apply art and design concepts and principles. I incorporate visual examples, history and ethics as important aspects and influences to digital projects. I prefer to use multiple types of student assessment, including studio projects, presentations, research projects, group projects and reading and writing assignments. Assignments should offer students an opportunity to engross themselves in the material, formulate their own opinions, think critically and relationally about course concepts and theories, and ultimately consolidate the cumulative aspects of the course in their projects.
One of the most important concepts I hope to impart to students is that learning is a process that never ends. My own education in painting, printmaking, poetics, philosophy, sound installation and digital media has informed my philosophy that subject matter is interconnected, and that everything we learn gives us a holistic understanding of our world, from which to develop our worldview. The process of making, experiencing and understanding visual culture is tied to our personal and social knowledge. By focusing on a range of ideas, I encourage students to see visual art practice as part of understanding and navigating the world at large.