GROUNDED IDEALISM I approach teaching with a high regard for materials and their potential for meaning. Setting my focus on actual material realizations provides a solid base on which I can work with students to develop and refine their concepts and the production of the work. I aim to get students to go beyond the cliché use of an idea and material. To bring to the fore the slippery yet possible logic of visual language and the integral part that material signifiers play in a piece.
Toyama workshop 2004. Pulling a stringer with PET bottle rocket.
My courses are highly structured: from carefully considered topics to slide lectures to one on one tutorials to group critiques, discussions and readings. Topics are chosen for both their pedagogical value (in response to student strengths and weaknesses) and their relevance to contemporary art practice. Some examples of lecture topics are: time, presence/absence, art and science, materials and meaning, the personal, methodology, presentation and display, architecture and site specific work, contemporary uses of representation and abstraction... The goal of these lectures is to inspire students (both visually and conceptually) and to help them bring their own work to a higher level of sophistication. In conjunction with these lectures I usually give students a corresponding assignment, reading or activity. The lectures are prepared from the point of view of an artist and are meant to solicit informed and directed class discussions about the conceptual and practical process of making artwork. In addition to this academic and didactic approach I often dedicate a section of my class to actual hands-on material demos, physics demos, in-class writing exercises and/or quick, but challenging group projects. All of these methods are in hopes of underlining the immense potential of idea and the careful construction of an idea's materialization. My own practice is quite experimental and I encourage all my students to be experimental with both material and with their thought process. I strive to cultivate an atmosphere of curiosity that has a depth and breath that will resonate in the student's research: with both material and source (art, artists, science, politics etc…)
In conjunction with structured classes, art students need the individualized information of one on one tutorials and critiques where specific advice and references can be given to students. This type of teaching is of utmost importance as it identifies and verbalizes the students' visual language and frames of reference. I always see my role in these tutorials as the person who attempts to open up research and practice with relevant and constructive references and comments. By the same token I aim to help students focus and edit.