The Visual Arts allow an artist to work through complex and critical problems utilizing a variety of approaches. Whether it be in the initial formulation of an idea, sculpting, throwing, glazing, or a plethora of other finishing techniques, the artist is continually reflecting and reacting. It is by way of self-reflection while creating these entities that our demand of critical attention reveals deeper meaning. In contemporary society, promoting life-long holistic learning through content, context and informed instruction allows for students to focus on strengths and weaknesses while navigating and strategizing future projects. I strive to lead a classroom that creates an inviting and stimulating environment where students feel free to take their work outside of their comfort zone and push forward to new levels of thought and experience. This environment engages critical thinking, relevant projects, obtainable goals, and is a nurturing/motivational atmosphere. Students are also exposed to diversity through in-depth lectures, projects, artist and individual interactions, given a firm appreciation and understanding towards equity and inclusion.
I help guide students to reach their goals without a rigid or overly strict mandating of the “singular” direction or answer. I believe that art is a personal expression of One’s self and can reflect what a person is and is not at that moment. I challenge students to make informed critical and appropriate decisions, while they are making instinctive aesthetic choices. Creating art that is individualized gives a personal connection and ownership to their work that they may not find otherwise. Student assignments do have a solid foundation as well especially in the introductory/beginning courses, so that they can effectively “know the rules, before they break them”.
The students also learn critical art thinking through readings of introspective works, writings, reflections, exposure to artists and mediums, and difficult ideas as a means for expanding their conceptual understanding. This creates an open dialogue that the student can use to inform and grow upon while they learn about their inner self. Implementing these components is made possible by balancing the theoretical approach, actual studio practice, personalization and conceptual depth. Assessment and comprehension are visible through research, critical discussions and a concise analytically informed conversation with the student. Connecting the students to their work captivates their attention and interests while allowing me to discuss concepts that they may not have thought about or did not know how to address. Refining this approach each time allows me to better understand the inner workings of the student’s mind.
Assigning projects that are sometimes open-ended may have very different meanings for each student. A holistic approach to historical theory and practice when also blended with its contemporary counterpart, allows for these open-ended projects to take on more reverence and power. Connecting our current climate, culture and societal-norms to historical contexts creates individualization and important discussions. In addition to concept and theory, a refined skill-set is extremely important.
The Visual Arts is an area that encompasses all other disciplines and provides a unique perspective in which to teach students critical thought, technological aspects, multi-disciplined fields while bestowing an outlet for creativity and revealing a view of their inner self. Providing a situation that interests students with organized and informed ideas allow the students to take risks, develop skills, address aesthetic concerns, push conceptual ideas and perhaps, most importantly, make a personal investment in their work. I lead students to higher levels of thought, experimentation and reflection, self-confidence, maturity, respect for one another, and the ability to participate in critical discussions in a global society.