I have a broad arts background. Adjunct professor. Museum educator, curator, and director. Art historian and critic. Educational designer. And there's for-profit, too. Yahoo! Analyst. Tech Writer. Script Analyst. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. I've run a law firm. A fiduciary firm. And a public relations firm. These experiences inform the way I teach art.
They serve three purposes. First, I can frame art as an experience by which students can understand the world as well as themselves. Second, I can craft the message to various audiences. And third, I can convey this message in an appropriate manner, on an appropriate platform. I want students to understand that their life histories and experiences are unique. That the only response to art is their response. In and out of the classroom, I want them to embrace, value, and practice tolerance. People will look at the same thing - art; not-art - and have a different opinion. It’s all relevant. What matters is to be comfortable in one’s own skin, in one’s own culture.
Three objectives guide my teaching.
First, I want students to understand that art is accessible. If they can access art, then they can engage it. It doesn’t matter where or when the artist made the work. Museums look like mausoleums. That doesn’t mean that the art housed therein isn’t robust, dynamic, and alive. That it has something to say to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I want students to conduct this engagement in a brave, honest, and sincere manner.
Second, I want students to understand that there are many histories of art. No one history is the correct one. There is a conventional history. The kind you read in textbooks. This canon implies value judgments and criteria that may not apply to non-canon works. Many alternative histories feature artists and works of art that textbooks overlook. I want to redress these value judgements. Then I can teach a comprehensive art history that embraces all art by all artists.
And third, I want learning to be collaborative, playful, and spontaneous. I want assignments and discussions to focus on the shared responses that art elicits. I want to create a feedback loop where students learn from me. Where students learn from each other. And I learn from my students. Since each student’s take on art is unique, there is a lot for us to learn. I want an environment where success accrues from enthusiasm and insight, not rote. Where each class is a voyage of discovery. Where who made what when and why matters less than why art is the perfect tool to make us realize one unassailable fact: we are all human.