Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wheedling a Faculty Hiring Committee 2009


As a professional artist and painter with substantial university and community college teaching experience in painting, drawing, and design, and who believes Art is foundational element of successful post-secondary education in the contemporary cultural and economic environment, I feel that I am an excellent candidate for this position.

Coming originally from Alaska and understanding the challenges facing aspiring creative professionals outside of urban centers, I am a strong believer in the commitment to outstanding educational quality, public mission, and community role. In more rural environments, students often have fewer options- the role of a superior public university is enhanced: it is indispensable to their best futures. Having grown up around the University of Alaska, the immediate and lasting effect of an ambitious Art Department on the community was profound and indisputable.

It sounds dramatic, but our national future depends on our creative abilities, which depend in turn on superior and ambitious education in the Arts; colleges devoted to the broad community are the most critical institutions.

I am a strong believer in and advocate for public universities. Just recently, I turned down an unsolicited offer to teach with a corporate for profit-school because of their fraudulent practices with student marketing. This reminded me in very real terms that it is in our public college and university institutions, under political and budget assault now, that most American adults grow their knowledge and and build their opportunities, not simply as employees, but as citizens, as full and equal human beings with every right to a full flowering of ideas and culture and the right to build the world we all occupy.

In my classroom in foundations classes, we begin with visual grammar, working hard to master the variety of illusionistic effects, grounding solidly in observation, moving through proportion to perspective to color theory, but the goal is always open experimentation and expression. Traditional visual art rules, when taught to enhance visual discovery and experimentation, greatly widen rather than restrict expression, and art students who are well challenged respond enthusiastically and with growing confidence. I have been repeatedly amazed by what motivated students can accomplish.

Most of my classes move through an arc of challenge and skill-building toward inquisitive, almost science-like experimentation. The students final projects are always open, with critiques consistently pushing each student, no matter the level of skill they have reached, to recognize what has been accomplished, and what can be improved, and the method by which it can be improved. Refining this process has fed my recent interest in creativity as a subject, and I have developed some effective workshops on creativity.

Methods evolve and transform, but goal is eternal: the creation of outstanding art and design that drives human intellect and emotion and even spirit to new nuances and new heights. I work to instill in my students that Art is indispensable - and even inevitable - in knowing and making who we are.

Former students of mine have gone from high school to MFA programs at RISD, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Art Institute. Generally, they have not been privileged students, and here is where I feel the greatest accomplishment as an instructor.

I am proud to have received outstanding student reviews over the years, and want to not only perform minor creative miracles in the classroom - those “aha!” moments every good art instructor knows - but to become a dynamic part of the Art Department and the university as whole.