General Education Instructor
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
A creative career isn't about ego. It's about taking pride in your work. Patrick Coué , General Education Instructor , The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I come from a modest rural milieu, miles away from refined gourmet food or appreciation for history and art. I think that’s always motivated me to explore and understand things that were foreign to that environment.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I try to keep current with the latest trends—along with opportunities for students who are looking for jobs in the Philadelphia area. Keeping in touch with students who’ve graduated and are working in their chosen field is the best link to the industry. Being able to point to these alumni as models and eventually use them as contacts is really important in helping students understand the possibilities that are out there.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I can think of two assignments in my Visual Culture of Food class. One combines home cooking, the nostalgic aspect of food, and personal narrative. Students professionally format three family dinner recipes they remember from childhood—sometimes it’s as simple as opening a few cans of food and mixing them together. Tracing their family food history, they describe a typical weekly family meal and answer basic questions like who did the grocery shopping and cooking, whether they were allowed to help, and the family dynamic during the meal. The other assignment uses Philadelphia’s rich culture as a resource—there are so many historically and architecturally significant buildings to study and museums to explore. Students research a painting, sculpture or building, write a formal analysis, then present their findings during a field trip to the museum or a walking tour of downtown. They describe a work of art, first in writing then orally in front of the class, much like the presentations they’ll make as professionals.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
In Art History class, students are assigned a work of art, then build a creative project related to it. Collaboration takes the form of presenting a first draft of their project to their peers, who then give them valuable feedback, especially regarding software.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
A creative career isn’t about ego. It’s about taking pride in your work.