Lori Woodall


By studying art, we come to terms with our collective humanness. Lori Woodall , General Education Instructor , The Art Institute of Charlotte, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

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

It was when I decided to follow a creative path and pursue a degree in literature and minor in art, rather than a career solely based on financial reward.

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

I fuse art, technology, and design into the learning so students are better equipped to face realities and challenges, both in school and beyond. The writing, analyzing, and critical thinking skills we work on in class have a practical application in the professional world. Students become better equipped to do well in interviews, for instance. Honing their analytical skills makes them more effective in oral communication. By discussing the humanities, they develop an appreciation for diversity. I think being able to skillfully think and discuss ideas is an advantage in any personal or professional setting.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring— and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

I assign a project where students choose a work of art and share it with their classmates in the form of a thesis. It’s their chance to share a unique piece of art that others may not have seen before. It’s also a forum for discussion and debate—and an opportunity to share their interpretation and/or a different angle. The presentation builds their confidence, and helps them overcome the fear of public speaking.

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

When students’ ideas bridge programs, they expose one another to new ways of thinking and approaches that heighten their creativity and problem solving skills. Learning to listen more closely, how to negotiate and when to compromise, giving and taking feedback, encouragement, and constructive criticism, and learning how to delegate duties are all fundamental to success.

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

Appreciate the importance of art. We study how art serves as a vehicle for building awareness and advancing social ideas. We discuss art as a universal language that helps us better understand one another, no matter the cultural or geographic divide. We also examine how art helps us trace our past, so we might better understand our behavior and each other. In other words, by studying art, we come to terms with our collective humanness.