Personal interactions are at the heart of my teaching; I focus on the conversation, the dialogue that occurs between a faculty and a student or a classroom. The dynamic of that situation is vital to the success of a course, a concept, and the lesson at hand. Art in and of itself is a finicky, fickle creature that is attractive, powerful, engaging and necessary. Teaching about a subject such as this cannot be tackled from one “sure-fire” method, especially when art frequently is tied to something very personal and profound to the artist.
My approach to teaching is to be empathetic but challenging. There is a definite “dance” to this situation. There are times that I take the lead, teaching technical aspects of art and design, pointing out right and wrong. But there are the moments when a give and take occurs, the exchange of ideas and the inevitable question of how do you distinguish “black and white” in the world of art and design, particularly as educators push for students to think for themselves? As students learn, develop and grow into adults and independent thinkers they need to be pushed in different ways, whether it is to understand and consider the way a material will effect a work’s overall form, if a color is going to pop too much against another or if the methods used to produce their artwork affects the environment in a negative manner. My job as an educator is to encourage these considerations and help them to eventually come to conclusions on their own. To not only push them as artist and designers technically, but to hope that they grow to become higher‐level thinkers. Those that can think conceptually about how their work will affect the society that we live in, how we interact with art and design on a daily basis and where they fit within that context.
As the dance continues, I consider myself successful the moment that I no longer have to “lead”. I can step back and witness my students engaging in a dance with their artwork, their peers and society. They are able to ask the questions and take the actions that are necessary to continue their professional practice without my guidance.