Teaching Statement

As a practicing artist and professor, I feel that it is imperative for my students to know that we are all in the process of absorbing visual culture in an ever-changing society. The arts are a fluid discipline, ripe with exploration and creative freedom. I feel it is important to bring forth that energy and freedom of expression within my students as my professor and art teachers did for me.

I was drawn to the arts – first drawing, later photography, as a method of communication of ideas and research, both historical and political. As an undergraduate at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University (2009-2014), I double-majored in both fine arts and social psychology, often entangling the two. My mentors in this time pushed me to explore and create imagery that pushed the bounds of representation. It was also during this time that I became engaged in the art world, understanding the political nature of art making and gaining exposure. I was heavily influenced by the critical literature of Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Linda Nochlin. The context and history of art is crucial to understanding a student’s place within it. I try to find the balance between teaching this contextualization of critical theory and allowing a student’s own artistic ambition to flourish. An example of an assignment might be to read a critical text, and then find current art references that expound or negate the main arguments within the text. Armoring my students with a firm knowledge base of context before making their own artwork to allow them to understand the history for which their artwork resides.

My undergraduate program is where I first had the opportunity of being a teaching assistant. Even though I was the same age or younger than some of my students, my professors saw me as an eager participant in the school’s community, one who both as a worker in the printing and darkroom labs and also a familiar face to everyone in the department. It was this status that allowed me to be a teaching assistant to esteemed photographers such as David Mussina and Claire Beckett, where I assisted with equipment demonstrations, Photoshop, and digital printing workflow. My age at the time made me a good candidate for such tasks, because I was more relatable to the dozen or so students who were roughly the same age. The students would be able to leave with a firm grasp of how to utilize the cameras, lights, and software they would need to competently produce photography assignments.

After graduation, it was a natural progression that I continued to work at my alma-mater as the equipment manager, overseeing all digital and analog equipment lending for the art school. This opportunity allowed me to troubleshoot technical project issues with students, offer equipment workshops, and even become a presence and mentor to some students during their undergraduate careers. While I may have been a friendly face, students often asked for one-on-one critiques, help with narrative flow, and professional development help (exhibition and grant applications). I realized that this was also something that helped me early on as a student – mentors who could help me formulate what I wanted to say with my work. At this point I recognized my love for helping the students through their projects and realized that teaching may be a viable career projection.

In 2018, I pursued a Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Art at Duke University. This eclectic program widened my understanding of art-making as it pertains to experimental film, installation, and sound arts. I engaged in a larger net of discourse about my profession, leading on the teachings of Teju Cole, Donna Haraway, and Rebecca Solnit (to name a few). I also enrolled in the Certificate of College Teaching which has opened a dialogue among other younger professionals, in completely different disciplines, with professionalism, teaching review, and course design.

It was during graduate school that I got my first experiences of leading lectures and discussion groups. Both of my teaching assistantships worked with faculty at the Center for the Documentary Studies. In Chris Sims’ Capstone Seminar, I facilitated in class critique and individual project development. Critiques are a helpful way for students to receive construction feedback on their projects and allow all students in the class to development input for one another. The critique structure creates a closer community in the classroom, one that hopefully transcends the semester and into professional life. Students produced semester-long projects within their preferred medium with weekly check-ins, allowing students to gain useful feedback before pursuing the fieldwork.

In Susie Post-Rust’s Digital Documentary Photography, I helped with the foundations of camera usage and image making, later leading to greater project development and ethical ideas about photography. By being a teaching assistant in these two classes, I truly saw the diverse range of talents among the students at Duke University: from the students who were picking up a camera for the first time to the students who have substantive documentary projects and career aspirations in the arts.

I have an affinity for helping other people of all kinds of backgrounds. With opportunity to work with small groups of students, one has the opportunity to understand the needs of each student. Having the correct affect and calmness is something I take seriously. Being thoughtful and respectful within my mentoring process is a strength that will resonate within my teaching career. I believe it is important for me to grow my teaching career parallel to my artistic endeavors. is within the fluidity of the arts that I find exciting, a way to react to the world within the confines of teaching and being able to help others find their passion.

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