During the 1980’s I lived and worked as a photographer in New York City. In between assignments I collaborated with other artists – and worked in many disciplines. Life was varied, and adventurous. I had no plans to become a teacher – but teaching art was in my blood. My father taught art in a high school in New Jersey. As a kid I’d work alongside his students when he taught during summers or on Saturdays. When they drew, I drew. When they painted, so did I. When I was 15 my father received a Fulbright grant for his innovative work in interdisciplinary teaching. His grant gave me the opportunity to live in the Netherlands for a year while he taught there. This experience proved to me at an early age the incredible benefits of studying and traveling abroad.
In the fall of 1990, just returned from an assignment in Italy, I met someone at a cocktail party who invited me to give a presentation to his journalism students at Columbia University. This led to an opportunity for me to teach photojournalism in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia for two years. The latent teacher in me surfaced. I soon returned to school, obtained my own graduate degree and sought a full-time position.
Teaching is – or should be – a purposeful and playful process of discovery. I enter the classroom each day with a plan. But encoded in the plan is my love of improvisation and readiness to be surprised by what each student brings to the work at hand. My father had a maxim in his classroom: “Don’t just sit there, argue with me.” In such an environment, students are empowered to challenge both their teacher and themselves. The level of discourse and the quality of engagement with their work is raised. I leave class humbled and excited. I return to my practice as an artist with new ‘art supplies.’
This is a link to a Western Michigan University page that presents information about my professional identity and has a link to additional images and text about my work: Here
What I’m teaching:
I came to Western Michigan University because this is one of few schools in the country that offers interdisciplinary classes about culture and the arts. Direct Encounter with the Arts (DEARTS), allows me to teach about all the arts and engage every conceivable aspect of our culture. As the name of suggests, students attend exhibitions and performances, go on field trips, and engage in dialogue with exceptional guest artists from every discipline. What’s fun as well as incredibly hard work about teaching this program is that each semester is unique. You can get an idea by visiting the DEARTS blog
In summer 2008, I designed and taught a new class in drawing and writing at the graduate level for the Art Education program here called Image and Word. Information about this and other classes I’m teaching are posted at: Image and Word.
At WMU I’ve also taught classes on writing about art; honors seminars about arts in the community, and studio classes in photography. Prior to WMU, and in addition to teaching photojournalism at Columbia University, I taught classes at The Ohio State University in drawing, 2-D design, photography, and media arts.