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As a teacher I see myself as a guide or mentor for those who participate in learning.  I teach because I enjoy working alongside students, seeing their ideas evolve and being an interactive part of that exchange.  My excitement and curiosity for art started when I was a student introduced to ceramics and that experience is one that I want to inspire and foster in others.


Teaching ceramic arts is a multifaceted endeavor that I approach from a holistic position.  Students using ceramic processes require both skill and technical understanding, and starting at the introductory level I begin by giving them knowledge of art fundamentals and a wide variety of forming techniques (through classroom demonstrations), raw materials, firing processes, and conceptual understanding along with a historical and contemporary context of ceramics.   I believe in the importance of technical proficiency and formal training as the basis for developing an essential vocabulary through which their unique ideas are communicated. 


I encourage my students to become committed to a lifetime of learning led by their own curiosity and creativity.  I challenge my students to understand the potential of asking creative questions led by critical thinking and problem-solving. I want them to see themselves as innovators, embracing all sorts of experimentation that propels them from one idea to the next.  To begin promoting these philosophies, I utilize stimulating assignments that introduce historical or conceptual themes balancing both technical structure and creative freedom.  Intermediate level students are expected to implement more comprehensive technical research (testing) like clay body, slip and glaze work.  As students become more versed in time management, production and personal style, I require them to research and set up a proposed model for a studio career outside of academia. Because the boundaries of ceramics education are constantly stretching to address the trends of interdisciplinary studies, the ceramics instructor is wise to take a versatile and broad approach to teaching in terms of use of materials and embracing of themes.


I am interested in creating a studio environment where students are engaged individually and collectively.  The ceramics medium highly relies on collaborative communities both locally and beyond to create learning platforms and establish critical exchanges.  The nature of clay and its processes are highly physical therefore it’s important to build a program where studio routines such as firing kilns and mixing clay emphasize the benefits of working together.  Individual and group critiques help students to realize how their work is viewed by others, stimulating introspection and self-awareness which encourages growth and improvement at an accelerated pace.  Honest critical feedback is crucial in that the strengths of the students work can be addressed as well as areas that need continued questioning or further articulation.


As I reflect on my education, the most meaningful influences I had were teachers and artists that set high standards and emphasized accountability in both my work ethic and creative development.  Each student must define their own artistic path as they develop a personal language to speak about the world they are part of.  My goal is to encourage and support them on their path through successes, as they face uncertainty and as they overcome perceived failure which is also part of the creative process leading to self-discovery.  


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