art foundations – teaching philosophy

Mania of making, mania of the mind, that excessive compulsion to question, push, make, and create, is 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, design and the arts—each a creative endeavor and fundamentally parallel in the need for this sensitivity to listening, connecting, vesting and acting upon.

Deep listening, connecting and making actually requires a high degree of risk taking in critical inquiry, experimentation, and practice, while simultaneously learning an 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 investigation, 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, of community, 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, synthesize thinking with historical and current contexts, 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. [Basis – Constructivism, Psychological Resilience, Mindfulness, Experience]


  1. Teaching Curriculum [project sheets, crit guides, etc] Portfolio
  2. Teaching Student [eye candy] Portfolio
  3. Current Courses [blog]
  4. Previous Courses Taught plus web presence developed


  • developed for WASH [Workshop in Art Studio + History]

WASH facebook  |  WASH spring 2013 [course Pinterest albums]  |
WASH Fall + Spring 2012  |  WASH spring 2010  |  WASH fall 2010  |
WASH spring 2011  |  WASH fall 2011   |

— the bigger picture (my life philosophy) —
community engagement (experience + philosophy) —

ome of my students’ older video work [not in Picasa teaching portfolio] shown below.

— older student material —

Exploration into uncomfortable

my student’s current assignment is to make an uncomfortable video. OMGosh Emily succeeds at making me uncomfortable and totally grossed out!! Go Emily! Yuk!(in this case based on project parameters, yuk and gross are totally complementary).

most I am not going to post because they made me weep with sadness (which means they successfully made me uncomfortable). ok well, maybe not weep, but definitely teared up repeatedly. you’ll have to visit their blogs if you need a good cry…links are located on my WASH class blog. my student’s are really quite amazing.

Turn audio on for this one. OMGosh Janna! EEEeeek.

Here is Sarah‘s, such a simple solution. Very nice, especially since I personally find peas disgusting. Did she secretly know I hate peas?

Exploring Monologues
I loved one of the first monologues I watched. This is by Jeremy. Jeremy is rather quiet in class; as the projects become more conceptual, he seems to be thriving! Perhaps the silent thinker type. Enjoy. I did.

Thank you Carlos. Thank you for making me laugh so hard; and validating that I am fulfilling my job in the way desired (working ’em like a dog and through the weekends)! You can see they have no fun with all the drudgery of the work I assign them.

Sarah! This video posted on her blog caused a little concerned phone call from her parental units to her. Good acting Sarah! No she isn’t the drunkard or druggard type, simply acted well. But it is a parent’s job to be sure.

Lauren! She wrote her own manifesto for this work!


Exploring Words via Improv
Today in preparation for a series of student monologues, we did improv 60 second monologues without saying the word, “uummmm.” Students, flying solo, stepped to the stage at which time they were given a word. Here is one of my personal highlights. More to come later because they were just so funny.

here is the word ANGER!

Way to go Keenan! Awesomeness.

Martin and SPAM

Maggi loves her clouds

Object Human Hybrid exploration
a few of the top contenders (photos shot by lee and krystal)

Katy (source object: drink umbrella)

Tony tests the functionality of the cardboard umbrella

Zach (source object: magnolia seed)

Danielle (source object: magnolia seed)

Kevin (source object: starfish) photo by Geoffrey Rascher

Jeremy (source object: starfish)

Sarah  (source object: contact lens case)

Sarah  (source object: contact lens case)

Krystal (source object: door knob) photo by Geoffrey Rascher

students present their first WASHer 3D project. we ran the crit like American idol with three professors as the judge. i was definitely NOT simon. each student walked the stage fashion showish and performatively. then they had to stand there in front of 50 or so of their new best friends and be crit by the judges (one – performance, two – craftsmanship, three – relationship of object to body).

Emily  (source object: cap of acorn)

they had guts to stand their. i went all codependent and totally uncomfortably crit them, ouch, HONESTly. normally in small group crits hard truths can be buffered in discourse. body language says it best. as much as i knew my body was doing this for the life of me i couldn’t make it stop closing up. i suppose i could have gotten a little smaller if i’d curled up on the floor in the fetal position. it wasn’t an option.

there are definitely pros and cons to doing it this way. i think i had to go home and cry in the shower afterward. obviously this wouldn’t have been a problem if all the projects had been awesome.

Mark and Word explorations

students spent a week or so exploring mark making and then brought a quote of their choosing into the work. the goal was to express the quote in a way that mimics actual speech in creating breath (space) and emphasis, etc and yet maintain readability.

each work is 2 to 3 feet by 3 to 5 feet in size.

no computers were harmed in the manufacturing of these works. though students printed source text from computer they used xerox copier for scale shifting and scissors, cutting out the paper and then exploring physical and visually all there options for arrangement. though this seems an archaic method, the physicality and the ability to move tweak adjustments extremely well. computers come later and one must remember they are simply just a tool.

Jasmine made this texture using ink on the bottom of her shoes (i like that!)

students then blow these up with an architectural printer (at fedex, office depot, etc) for about 5 bucks (on bond paper)

See the rest






Brian’s above inking technique….drip and blow.

Lauren made the above marks with a paint brush attached to a toy coke can that wiggles when you clap your hands…she kept clapping and periodically reloaded the brush with ink (see draw with a coke can post for video).

My other Lauren created the negative spaces containing the text with tape.



Edith made the above marks with paint brushes attached to a block of wood on the end of a dremel.