Teaching Statement

Teaching statement

My destiny was to be a teacher from birth. Both my parents were teachers, and some of my earliest experiences in the classroom were in theirs (my brother, after a few years of teeth-gnashing in the corporate world of system analysis, became a high school math teacher).

As an educator, I started not in the field of art, but in outdoor recreation, helping my dad with his boating business by teaching people how to kayak and canoe. That, coupled with a stint as an 18 year old art student thrown in to teaching Saturday School classes as a scholarship requirement with no guidance or forewarning, prepared me for a life of teaching with its skillset of patience, flexibility, encouragement, and the necessary ability of creativity (or, working with nothing to make something!).

Since then, my teaching experiences continued to expand and now focus primarily on art techniques (embellished textile assemblage and mixed media techniques) for age levels from 8 to nearly 80, and art appreciation on the college level. I have taught in the public schools, including AP art, special needs, and at risk student populations. As a visiting artist, I have worked with middle school, high school, and university students in intensive, workshop style art instruction. My students bring experiences ranging from professional artists and art educators, to the novice or totally inexperienced. I teach at both private for-profit business as well as non-profit art centers. Often, when I am asked to be a visiting artist, I give artist talks to audiences ranging from 20 – 300+.

As a teaching artist and college professor, my goal is to create an environment of collaborative and explorative learning. With the art appreciation course I have taught for nine years to principally non-art majors, Understanding the Visual Arts, the primary focus is on visual literacy and culture, exposure to new images/objects and ways of thinking, and utilizing the visual arts as a means of self-expression and developing creative and critical thinking. As a teaching artist, my instructional style of providing structured projects in which student learn specific textile and art techniques like raw appliqué, non-traditional quilting, embroidery, embellishment, methods of surface design, shrink art, and mixed media techniques allow participants to learn and employ the skills to express their individual vision. In part, my approach to being a teaching artist is informed by my graduate education in studio art and art education.

In sum, I love teaching. Every class I teach, regardless of the content or age level, enhances my life as an artist and person. Some of my previous students are now great friends, others are collectors of my work, and many have taken the class information and transformed either the techniques or the knowledge into phenomenal artworks and/or an enriched perspective of their world. I consider myself privileged to have a vocation that I am passionate about and that positively affects other people’s lives, and that doesn’t make me fantasize about retirement!