In May 2017, I earned an MFA at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. While at Mason Gross I taught two separate curriculums under the guidance of Julie Langsam. I have taught two semesters of Visual Thinking 1B (Color Theory). The first thing I ask my students at the beginning of a color theory course is: what is color? Is it a quality of the surface of objects? Is it a quality of light? Is it intrinsic to sight? Or is it something hidden, imbedded in cultural bodies and language that defines our interactions with the world or with each other or with objects? Of course it is all these things. It is the meatiest, most complex of subjects. And throughout history many have tried to define/theorize how we see, interact, and are influenced by color. It is a brilliant, disorienting murky pool of theories, poetics, physicality, tension, and sensation. It is wholly a part of our experience of life: every moment involves color. More than any other aspect of a color theory course, physically looking at colors, seeing a color become shifty and malleable is what I emphasize. To this end, my course relies heavily on Albers’ Interaction of Color exercises, a daily notebook of observations, and trips to museums/galleries to see how color is used in historical and contemporary artworks. I teach the subject of color from many vantage points and topics: different color systems (Itten, Goethe, Newton, Runge, Ostwald, Munsell, Pantone, etc.), basic vocabulary (i.e. subtractive mixture, additive mixture, the color wheel, hue, intensity, value, etc.), and reading historical and contemporary texts from theoretical to poetic. What I want a student to have learned by the end of my course is how to see and ultimately use color in a more meaningful way. How can a grouping of hues, intensities, and values effect an artworks meaning? Its impact? Its tone? I want a student to be able to go out into the world and not just dismiss a color as a mundane fact but see it as a wonderful, curious occurrence; as a tool that affects us physically and psychologically.
Another course I have taught while at Mason Gross is Visual Thinking 1A (2D Design). This course is focused around fundamental design elements and nurturing the student’s ability to articulate formal and conceptual vocabulary when discussing an artwork. One of the most challenging aspects of this class is showing the student what a practicing artist can be. I want to suss out the ambition and the willingness to take risks that is necessary to be a successful artist. The course concentrates on abstract compositional elements (i.e. line, figure/ground, repetition, etc.) at the beginning of the semester and grows into more complex conceptual discussions (i.e. compositional organization, theme, time and sequence, functionality, etc.) towards the end. What I want the student to have learned by the end of this class is when making or discussing an artwork, they should understand the conceptual weight a simple formal device can have. For example, a line and a material can connote feeling, movement, the body, weight, and cultural/historical meaning. I want them to understand that an artwork is something that must be pulled apart and examined on multiple levels, not just through its pictorial framework but through its formal, cultural, experiential avenues as well.
Currently I am teaching an introductory studio course to non-art majors. This class is at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. The main focus of the class is introducing students to various mediums, materials, and ways of making. We do weekly projects that have included conte crayon still life, blind contour drawings, collage, sculpture, figure/ground, repetition and pattern collages, cyanotypes, and artist’s books.
Art education should be a safe and welcoming place for students to test out ideas, have discussions of their beliefs, and to be vulnerable - to be outside their comfort zones. The role of an instructor, is to nurture and tease out the potential within each student, to give them direction, and push them to think in a different mode. More so it is the role of an instructor to be an example of what a working artist can look like and how to make one’s art practice thrive outside of school.