Two of the most important attributes that I can instill in my students are a sense of rigor and a desire to explore. These two things are paramount to future success as an artist. I believe in teaching students how to look critically at the world and conceptualize their ideas in various ways. It also behooves conceptual thinkers to have the technical abilities to realize their visions. Students will learn a technical skill more readily if they have a need for it at the moment. For this reason, I base technical information on what projects are currently being thought about conceptually. Even from the very first project in beginning classes, I put concept at the core of every graded assignment. At the same time, I teach that having a visually engaging project is important.
For the first several years of school I encourage students to explore a vast variety of media/subjects/styles. This is the drive for exploration that I seek to instill in students. Even throughout this breadth of exploration, I encourage students to look for threads that can connect the seemingly disparate projects. Although having unwavering narrow requirements usually does not help students who are in school to become artists, I do feel it is important that I establish core concepts that need to be mastered in a course whether they are conceptual, technical, or both. Outside of those core concepts, students should explore their areas of interest. A broad range of classes, including from outside the discipline of art, is beneficial to students. I encourage students to bring what they are learning in other classes into their art-making practice. A cross-disciplinary approach to art is a breeding ground for the best ideas.
The other part of the equation of success is rigor in the form of self-motivation, hard work, and dedication. I try to foster the sense of focus that will help developing artists. By the time students are at an advanced level—seniors and graduate students—they are ready to examine a topic in great depth instead of the breadth of earlier projects. Exploring one subject, media, or idea for an extended period of time is almost the only way of making breakthroughs and bringing new information to the forefront.
Aside from the technical and conceptual skillsets, I feel it is important to teach professional practices that are necessary for a prosperous long-term art making career such as forming peer groups, seeking opportunities, and having self-directed assignments. Still, the reality is that most art students will go on to do something other than art; this is why I feel that critical thinking, participation, and creative problem solving are so important to all students. These are the tools that will help students go on to be successful in whatever direction their lives take them.
Conversation and discussion are important aspects of teaching in an art setting. I do not want my viewpoint to be monolithic but a lead in a myriad of voices. This is part of the reason I factor participation so heavily into my classes. Being able to interact and engage in a group setting will help students in so many aspects of the art world as well as the world at large. The idea that an artist can just make work in the studio without regard to what happens outside it is outdated, so students need to be prepared to participate more fully before leaving academia.
I try to inspire students through my own intense research practice and love of the discipline. Teaching is a way of giving back some of the passion and energy that can flow when looking at, thinking about, and making art. It can be a self-sustaining cycle. Teaching is a way of constant self-renewal. When working with students you look at culture, art, the world, and yourself through different lenses. Instead of looking only to your peers for insight, you have a rotating group of fresh minds to inquire into the nature of everything.
Studio I: Photography and Intermedia
Studio III: Photography and Intermedia
Visual Research I/Independent Study
Photography I, II, III, and IV (sophomore and junior)
Advanced Photography/Final Project (senior)
Introduction to Electronic Media (sophomore)
Creative Processes (foundations)
Introduction to Computer Imagery (non-majors)
Color Photography (junior)
Advanced Color Photography (junior)
Performance Art (all levels)
Performance and Installation (junior/senior)
Introduction to Web Design (All Levels)
Computer Graphics I (foundation)
Computer Graphics II (sophomore)
Time Based Art/Video (all levels)
History of Photography (sophomore)
Research Methods (senior)
Advocacy, Activism, and Engagement in Art (all levels)
World Studio—Study Abroad in Germany(all levels)
A Critical Approach to Art-Interdisciplinary Critique
(Fine Arts Department Capstone Class)
Visual Research I/Independent Study (all levels)
Selected Teaching Skillsets
All aspects of digital and chemical photography (color/black and white), large format printing, sound, video, performance art, studio lighting, alternative processes, basic web design, robotic tripod heads, drone imaging, underwater imaging, Adobe CS, Google Sketch-Up, printmaking/bookmaking, photographic/digital media history and theory, proposal and grant writing, professional practices, installation art techniques such as carpentry and electrical wiring, interdisciplinary practice and critique