Throughout history, artists face challenges that evolve. Automation and the post-Fordist economy are leaving many people vulnerable. This situation can be particularly precarious for artists, yet auspicious as well. Artists and creatives seek “success” although each of us measure it differently. Art education should show students how to think critically, sustain a creative practice over a long period of time, and to, as James Baldwin puts it, “...make freedom real.” The possibility that I can help students achieve a sense of agency (the awareness of what is possible) drives me to be a selfless educator.
The idea of illumination, to enlighten and to make clear, is at the heart of my teaching philosophy. The classroom should be a supportive, accommodating, and safe space for inquiry. It is not the teacher’s job to simply deposit knowledge in the mind of the student for regurgitation. Learning is a collaborative effort where the experiences of the teacher and students are valued. In art education, it is important to bridge gaps between an individual’s lived experience with concerns of art making. Art is successful when it articulates content that leads to further inquiry. The ability to articulate meaning can come from a sense of agency and facility with materials. I value the proficiency of techniques so that artists-in-training can build a wide-ranging visual language, especially for beginning students. The proficiency of techniques can make the student desirable in the job market as well. However, good craftspersonship does not always translate into “good art.”
I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA and was privileged to have after-school enrichment programs in high school that combined my lived experience as a person of color with art making. Approaching theater, visual art, slam poetry, personal and cultural history simultaneously taught me to critical about the world around me. This interdisciplinary approach to learning which valued my concerns resulted in my critical understanding of world struggles and action. Throughout my years of education and living in New York City, several educators have shown me what was possible in the arts and in the world. Learning has been and continues to be liberating.
I use seminar-style discussions in the classroom in order to democratize and work through ideas. I show how to use various creative methodologies and techniques to suit each individual’s needs. To broaden students’ intellectual and conceptual background, a number of readings will be assigned and discussed. In addition to exploring the various theories surrounding art, I place emphasis artist talks, artist biographies, and studio visits with working artists. I think it is important to investigate not only the art that people make, but how artists live.
Honest and challenging critiques are a top priority in my classroom. I will mentor and empower my students so they can articulate their work to the fullest potential. The demystification of cultural labor, emerging technologies, academia, and art history should allow greater freedom in the studio. I aim to enhance my students’ capacities to think critically. The works of art they produce should illuminate the human experience.