The most valuable lesson that an art student can learn is to pursue their own art, defining and refining ideas while developing the material skills and craft necessary to execute them. Curiosity and confidence in ideas and process combined with a critical awareness of the various contexts within which the work operates, enables students to engage in continuous examination of their world. I attempt to create a challenging but supportive atmosphere in class. My teaching combines encouragement of exploration with providing students the conceptual and technical tools they will need to produce, understand, and improve their work. I structure my classes in a manner that encourages dialogue in the context of teaching students necessary formal and critical skills.
In introductory classes, I place a strong emphasis on exposing students to a range of ideas, and skills necessary to conceptualize, produce and refine their work. For example the first two assignments in my introduction to three-dimensional intermedia are designed to familiarize the students with expanding thier ideas around the full range of materials that they can use to make sculpture and how to work in collaoboration with each other. This sets of the tone of the course. My goal is not to produce technical virtuosos but rather to provide the students with enough material and critical skills to begin making work that merits critical discussion. Simultaneously I introduce other artists and their work and a range of contemporary ideas through video screenings and slide presentations.
In my advanced classes I expect the students to work more independently. I encourage students to express themselves as individuals or in collaborative efforts in order to address issues that concern them deeply. It is essential that students develop critical skills and abilities to assess their own and others’ art in conjunction with their production. Reading and understanding art history, theory, philosophy and other artists’ writings while examining existing art cultivates critical awareness.
I assign readings in all of my classes. I also incorporate regular individual and group critiques that further develop the students’ understanding of their own and others work. I encourage students to participate in these critiques in order to develop their conceptual skills and the ability to clearly articulate their ideas.
I also encourage my students to take advantage of as many exhibition opportunities as possible in order to experience the challenges and satisfactions that showing brings. My students regularly exhibit their work at UCSC in the quarterly Open Studios event, in the annual Irwin Award exhibition and the solo Senior exhibits. A number of them have gone on to graduate programs at Yale, Hunter, Cal Arts and Rutgers in order to continue their art studies and practice. Others are now practicing artists.