Judith Berk King
Visual Arts Instructor
Miami International University of Art & Design
Never promise what you can't deliver; deliver more than you can promise. Judith Berk King , Visual Arts Instructor , Miami International University of Art & Design
While I was working on my MFA degree, one of my instructors told me that I should teach. After working with undergrads in ceramics studio, I realized that teaching and being a professional artist was indeed what I wanted to do. It was that simple.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I consider myself a full-time artist as well as a full-time instructor. I bring both the corporate and artistic perspective to the classroom to help my students enhance their skills and prepare for a creative career. My projects are based on my professional experience, so they often have a practical, real-world application. I stress to students that talent alone isn’t enough. It takes a high level of professionalism to succeed. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun in the classroom!
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I believe that, as a professional, you must be able to formulate your thoughts cohesively and express them clearly, both verbally and in writing. We work on that through a six-part assignment. Students first describe their work and why they’ve chosen it. Next, we review each student’s statement to help them clarify their thoughts. Students then prepare a verbal “elevator pitch” in small groups, helping each other refine their pitches. Then they role-play in front of the class using hypothetical situations; their classmates then critique them. After they repeat that step, each student has a mock interview with Career Services. Many students approach that assignment—particularly the role-playing—with a sense of trepidation. It’s not easy to face the class and be critiqued, but once they’ve gone through it once, they get more comfortable and it gets easier for them.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?
Almost all work in the outside world involves collaboration, so teamwork is important, as in the example above. Students like working with and learning from each other, and they pick up valuable lessons about team dynamics—both positive and negative. They learn to adapt, communicate and share. Those are crucial lessons for success.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Three things: Integrity, hard work, and persistence.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Never promise what you can't deliver; deliver more than you promise.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I work with the most talented and diverse group of students you can imagine. They constantly amaze me. I’m incredibly lucky to participate with them on their journey.