Through the assistance of three friends, I’ve been refining and codifying with words and reason what it is that I do in the teaching-studio environment. One leaning me toward more academic less my poetic impulse, Two to hunt for research backing to substantiate, and Three just for freaking posting a NYTimes article on resilience which lead me straight to what Two suggested. I’ve yet to figure how to link it directly to the research documentation, but at least I know the theories of research that corroborate my practice — social theories of attachment, resiliency, change, responsiveness and flexibility. Oh yea!
ummm. They haven’t proofed this pseudo final version and anyone who follows my blog knows that I may be of sound logic, even poetic, but I certainly can and do butcher the English language. Yup.
Art Foundations Teaching Philosophy
Mania of making, mania of the mind, both are worth harvesting, expanding, directing and releasing. As artist educator within foundations, my role in this process is to cultivate a sensitivity to listening. I see this listening as rather all encompassing and enabling of an awareness of self, others, materialities, processes and practice, traditions, physical, social and historical contexts, passions, subject matter, methodologies, and so on. This kind of perceptiveness requires me to equip students with a capacity to dwell inside and alongside of things and thinking so that making becomes a reflection of their listening. Access to the rhythms that come from deep listening allows what might otherwise remain submerged and unseen to manifest in ways that become meaningful. I have taught in the sciences, faith and the arts—each a creative endeavor and fundamentally parallel in the need for this sensitivity to listening, connecting, and acting upon.
Deep listening, connecting and making actually requires a high degree of risk taking, openness to critical feedback and dialog, as well as, exposure to failure. This artistic risky behavior, openness, and exposure are cultivated through a series of communal and curricular factors.
Beginning in the very first studio, it is critical to build in forms of interaction that emotionally tether the students to one another and to their sense of belonging within the program. A resiliency that allows the studio experience of experimentation, tight timelines, heavy workloads and critical dialogue to be pushed further than when students’ function as isolated agents is foster by the development of strong studio peer attachments. Attachments are initially accelerated when classroom norms are disrupted through a series of non-graded tasks that bring the students into opinionated mini monologues about the arts, extremely close physical proximity via a small team task, team performance of task, and laughter, followed with a larger group critical dialogue exploring the discrepancies between team intent and viewer perception. These forms of connections, teams, tasks, and dialogues set the stage to implement an intense curriculum and work practice that peaks curiosity, promotes artistic risk taking, critical dialogue, and physical engagement.
Built into the scope and sequence of the curriculum are the practices of successful artistic deep listening, connecting and making—research, idea development, capacity to harvest from personal passions, critical reflection and discourse, collaborative unpacking of discrepancies between intent and outcome, deconstruction and adaption of working processes, work ethic, time management, opportunities for multiple iterations of a single concept or materiality, attention to craftsmanship, and professional presentation of work. Traditional attention to design elements and principles and craft are attended to but in ways that supports and emphasizes the habits of perceptiveness and process.
These deep listening, connecting, and making habits are not only the key to successful art careers but they are highly portable and will transfer to other potential job/life activities that the artist may embrace to support their artistic practice.0