I use my background in art and writing in the projects the students do in class, which compliments whatever we are learning about in history. Minda Webber , Adjunct Faculty , The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
There was more than one defining moment, for instance, when my first book was purchased by Dorchester Publishing and when I won my first award for my first novel. Another moment was when my first pieces of artwork were picked up by a San Antonio art gallery. Another moment would be when my sister and I wrote cartoons for ABC Saturday morning lineup.
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 come from a long line of storytellers, who knew the oral histories of our families as well as the community. I grew up listening and interested in the history of what they were telling. As far as the creativeness goes, I use my background in art and writing in the projects the students do in class, which compliments whatever we are learning about in history.
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?
In American History, I have students do a historical event in an art style like Art Nouveau or Cubism, etc. Students that are not as familiar with Photoshop and so forth can be intimidated. But I tell them about one student who said he had no talent whatsoever in art and yet his project led him into a hobby that makes him money. He picked Cubism and did it so well, that he framed his work. The guy that framed it wanted one and paid to have him make him one. Then my student’s brother-in-law wanted one, and my student made him one, as well. The last time I talked to my student, he had sold about eight of his work and was working on something new. He told me that I had encouraged him to go out of his comfort zone and in doing so, he now has a hobby where he earns money and that he loves.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
In group work my students do a WWI propaganda poster made from trash. It is a fun project—creative, thinking outside of the box—and it doesn’t really matter what field you are in, because you are making something out of trash. Everyone has a great time and generally work very well together.
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?
I hope I teach them that learning is fun, no matter the subject and a lifelong commitment. Do not give up when the going gets tough, and once you get a break, make your deadlines early.