What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
As early as I can remember I always loved drawing, painting, and making sculptures. When I approached my father about going to college and majoring in art he was very supportive and told me that my career will be a major part of my life—it defines who you are—so he insisted that I should do something I loved. He agreed it should be art. That confirmed my decision and visual arts was the career path I perused.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?
I have been fortunate enough to be part of numerous art communities, artist residencies, art education programs, in addition to exhibiting and conducting workshops both nationally and internationally. These diverse experiences have allowed be to gain unique perspectives on how students can use their various creative skills in the workplace.
Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
One example would be Beginning Ceramics. Students are given a general theme to work with and asked to compile a list of ideas inspired by that theme. Upon completion of their list, the class transitions into a brainstorming session where the entire class takes part in critiquing the ideas and giving feedback. Students consider all suggestions and feedback, then they start sketching ideas for projects. This interaction and affirmation among class peers, in addition to the faculty, give beginning students confidence to expand their ideas.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
Collaboration is an excellent way to create an active learning style in the classroom. Students gain self confidence as they contribute to a significant project that they alone could not create. One example of this is our Mural Techniques class where students work together to create street art and murals for the community.
In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?
The most important thing for a student to have is a positive attitude and a good work ethic! Artists need to be open to changes in media and technology. They also should not only be self critical, but be able to take critique and advice from colleges and others around them. Finally, they should always continue to improve their craft, no matter what level of success they achieve with it.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?
I feel it is a great honor to teach the quality and diversity of our students at Miami International University of Art & Design. To see the positive artistic growth and development of the students as they transition through their programs is a testament to the excellent faculty we have at the University. At MIU the student body is truly exceptional and my colleagues that mentor them are extremely dedicated to teaching and student success. I can’t imagine working at a more inspiring and supportive University.