Janice J. Rossman

Janice J. Rossman

Cultivate your own personal aesthetic sense. Learn to be unique, to lead and not to follow. Janice J. Rossman , Art History & Foundations Instructor , The Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I was raised in a creative family who were active in the arts community. My father, a sculptor, would take us most Sundays to visit the local art museum. This exposure to the arts at an early age shaped my love of the visual arts—and my desire to share it with others.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I wasn’t always an academic. I’ve worked as a professional photographer and for our family graphic design business. Teaching art history means teaching aesthetics. Looking at thousands of years of human creativity shapes one’s understanding of what’s pleasing to the eye. Learning artists’ processes and techniques...I tell students that knowledge becomes tools in their toolbox. Creativity is a hungry beast, always needing to be fed new ideas, or looking at the old ones to incorporate in innovative ways.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I give a creative assignment in all my art history classes. Students can use any technique or material to represent an inspiration from something we’ve studied during the course. They write about what and why they created their piece. Some of these are truly remarkable tiny (4” x 4”) masterpieces. It’s an interesting way for them to learn about the processes of art, as well as a chance to show their creativity.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

We discuss why artists make the work they do...their motivation. I ask students to connect artistic styles and movements throughout history to world political, religious and socioeconomic conditions. I want them to think about how they would’ve responded creatively during that time, or place. I encourage them to aim for originality as they become creative professionals.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Each degree program has its own unique focus. Crossing over and gaining an understanding of the other ideas and goals can open up new lines of thinking creatively.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Cultivate your own personal aesthetic sense. Learn to be unique, to lead and not to follow.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

The more you learn about professionals—and award winners—in your chosen field, the better able you’ll be to meet—and beat—the competition.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I try my best to instill the love of art, understanding of the process, and respect for the artists who have gone before. Education is the scaffolding for students to build on as they become creative professionals.