As someone who always found stimulation, delight and refuge in educational settings and art studios, it’s perhaps no wonder that I have made a career as an artist and teacher — in community settings, museums and galleries, universities and art schools. I also have a history of professional activity in educational broadcasting, writing, researching and consulting with respect to both programming and policy.
I am Associate Professor of Art Education in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University, in Montreal, Canada, where I work within a community of artists/researchers/teachers, undergraduates and grad students, on practical and theoretical issues related to the arts and education. Given my mandate as Concordia University Research Chair in Socially Engaged Art and Public Pedagogies, the courses I teach are oriented to a perspective of ‘arts for change and social justice.’ I am deeply interested in environmental issues, particularly those of our urban ecosystems. My teaching philosophy reflects my orientation to teaching and learning ‘outside the box’ of the academy, my desire to celebrate difference and inclusivity, and
At Concordia University, I have been awarded four Curriculum Innovation Awards to develop curriculum that is linked to experiential, project- and place-based learning:
• Studio Inquiry: TASK: to explore the potential of a collaborative, improvisatory studio intensive facilitated by Brooklyn-based artist Oliver Herring and using his TASK approach (2014; individual award);
• Studio Inquiry: Nuit blanche at the Museum, to engage the ‘research-to-practice’ arc, by working with a graduate seminar class to design and create a participatory event for Montreal’s Nuit Blanche at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts or MMFA (2016; individual award). This course initiated Art Education’s engagement with the Museum’s new Pavilion of Peace, marked the first time that Concordia University students from the Faculty of Fine Arts exhibited their artwork in the MMFA and sparked a continuing stream of my teaching and research;
• Studio Inquiry: The Post-Industrial Ecologies of Pointe-St-Charles, (twice) as part of “the Right to the City,” an interdisciplinary, multi-course teaching initiative, that encouraged MA and PhD students to learn ‘with’ rather than ‘from’ place, specifically, with the people, creatures and histories of Montreal’s economically-marginal, now-gentrifying neighbourhood of Pointe-St-Charles. In two successive years (2015, 2016), Art Education MA and PhD students learned alongside others in Art History, History and Theatre in Pointe-St-Charles, our activities based in a local social economy site, Share the Warmth (2015, 2016; team award). In 2017, the Right to the City was sited at the Atwater Library, a new location that enabled graduate students in Art Education and History to explore social and environmental dynamics in the Shaughnessy Village neighbourhood, adjacent to Concordia University’s downtown campus.
I am exceptionally honoured to have won the Faculty of Fine Arts Distinguished Teaching Award (2015-16) based on more than 30 letters of nomination from students past and present as well as colleagues.
Prior to taking up my position at Concordia in 2008, I was based in Toronto, Canada, where I worked as a sessional/freelance instructor and teacher for adults in post-secondary institutions, for adult leisure learners, and as a visiting artist with children, youth, and teachers in schools.
Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of students, from nine-year-olds (in Grade 4) to adults of all ages in post-secondary and leisure learning courses. I’ve developed curricula in studio and professional practice courses for emerging artists studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design’s Faculty of Art. I’ve also created courses to meet the needs of teachers-to-be in the Faculty of Education at York University. At York’s Faculty of Education, I was Artist-in-Residence from 2001 to 2004, engaging teacher candidates in studio projects for their own learning and development, and ultimate versioning for children in classrooms. Before assuming a full-time position at Concordia, I taught in the Faculty of Fine Arts as an instructor of Introductory Painting. I worked with students on the basics of acrylic and oil media, encouraging students to work from life, imagination, or photo references as a means of developing their individual approaches.
I’ve aimed to kindle enthusiasm for and pride in arts accomplishment in adults in leisure learning and master class circumstances, often via workshops designed to accompany exhibitions of my artwork. For instance, in Canada and the Netherlands I’ve worked with adult artists on practices in encaustic assemblage, techniques for working with photographic emulsion on cloth, and developing a visual family history memento.
My elementary and secondary school-based teaching has been also short-term and project-based. For instance, as an Artist in Education for the Ontario Arts Council, I developed mixed media projects with elementary and secondary students. Similarly, as an artist teacher for the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through the Arts initiative, I used visual media with students to explore ideas relevant to the history and language curricula.
No matter who or where I’m teaching, I aim to foster a positive, exploratory environment in which all approaches to art are welcome, dedicated work is required, and creative surprises are many. I work to assist each student to better understand and realize individual ideas and feelings. The challenge is always to help move each student forward in his or her own personal direction, regardless of what that is.
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