Art and music have always been my oxygen. They sustain me, stimulate my imagination, and give me great fulfillment and personal satisfaction. Studying art and art history at a very intense, demanding, and exciting art institute allowed me to sharpen my skills and deepen my commitment to a wide array of creative pursuits. My twenty years at Palmer Trinity have given me countless opportunities to share my passion and expertise with young budding artists. I see myself as a link in a noble, lustrous chain of teachers and students, learning from, guiding, and challenging each other. In my one-on-one interactions with students at the potter’s wheel or in the woodworking shop, we are co-creators, marveling over the endless field of creative possibilities that lie before us. When I sense the special spark of excitement or hear the proverbial “Aha” from a student, I know that the magic has worked, and that the life-affirming spirit of creativity has been shared. That’s what I live for. My high school teachers and college professors gave me countless precious gifts. Now, I have the deep privilege of sharing them with our students. This, my daily work, is my greatest pleasure.
I’ve always believed that a person’s job here on Earth is to figure out what they are good at and put it to use in the pursuit of helping others. In the Art Department at Palmer Trinity, I truly feel as though I am able to do that. There are few things more satisfying to me as an art teacher than when I hear a student exclaim “I can’t believe I made this!” After helping students gradually build up skill with a variety of techniques until they are producing work at a stunningly sophisticated level, I love to see students surprise themselves with their beautiful output. Nowhere is this more true than in the AP Studio Art course, where students who are seriously dedicated to artistic self-expression commit to a rigorous series of creative challenges. It is my pleasure to help guide my students through the world of self-expression and my privilege as the department chair to create a visual arts program so strong and enriching that it will be to the benefit of the entire school community and draw potential students here to PTS!
There is a German saying, “Angst Essen Seele auf”, that translates to mean, “fear eats the soul”. It is important to know that everyone can make art but the biggest obstacle to doing so is fear. The art teacher provides boundaries so that the element of fear can be removed. Boundaries can inspire our curiosity. Art is one of the few places in a student’s structured day when they can safely experiment with taking risks, making odd choices, and develop thinking in original ways. In the art studio experimentation is a means, and failure is courted while searching for the unique voice. Techniques, limiting parameters of an assignment, insights from research and our history, etc…are brought together in support of artistic exploration.
Art can be taught. You do not have to be born good at it. (That is why we have art teachers!) Another saying, a Spanish proverb, is “a life lived in fear is a life half lived”. Art is the place to round out the lives of our students. It is the place for them to stretch to their fullest potential in the realm of decision-making and discovery. As an art teacher I strive to make my assignments relevant to the student’s lives. Each class is structured to exercise skills and establish a safe place for leaps of faith. I believe that, in taking those leaps, the student sees who they are, who they might become, who they do not want to be, and in the process, they find their soul.
I’ve spent the most part of my years involved in three different practices in art – fine art, illustrating, and teaching. As a studio artist, I’ve had experience with all manners of art making, receiving numerous prestigious grants and awards, while exhibiting nationally. I bring these skills and knowledge to the classroom. As an illustrator, I’ve learned many visual languages and how to incorporate those into clear forms of communication. Because a good deal of my illustration work has been in the “how-to/general reference” markets in publishing, depicting any and all forms of instruction is teaching.
For the student in the class, two of my main goals include teaching the student how to see. This comes in many ways, not least of which is seeing in all its glory, what physically sits in front of them. Equally important to this practice, is seeing as perspective; seeing as investigation, as imagination, as concept, and as theater! The students learn through taught methods and principles while being encouraged to experiment, to take risks, and explore. The ability the student demonstrates within this arena is where I feel the growth occurs, talents aside.