Mary White

General Education

Adjunct Faculty, General Education
The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University

Mary White

Each student brings their own unique perspective with them, which they use to enlighten and inform others. Mary White , Adjunct Faculty, General Education , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

As the eldest child, I was always “teaching” my younger siblings. We played school constantly as kids. I also come from a “teaching” family. Both grandmothers, one grandfather and both of my uncles are all college professors. I guess you could say it is in my blood…and I love it! 

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 try and make everything I teach related to a usable context so that the students can understand the material from a perspective they can easily grasp. I use examples from my personal and professional experiences to contextualize what otherwise might be dry facts.

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 my Art and Society class, I have the students create a self-portrait for their final exam which they present to the class. This is not your ordinary self-portrait, though. The students are asked to find four different works of art from four different styles which represent them in some way. They then have to research these works of art and put them in, not only their historic context, but tell us how they relate to themselves and to the society from which they come. The presentations are always very insightful and dovetail all the knowledge the students have gained from the course with some positive introspection. Students frequently report that they really liked thinking about how the art affects them and how it may represent them in some way and that they “have never thought of art this way before.”  It is a wonderful culmination of the Art and Society class.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?  

Each student brings their own unique perspective with them, which they use to enlighten and inform others. All are encouraged to be considerate and contemplative about what their fellow students have to offer. “Ahha” moments occur when we step outside of ourselves and view the world through the lens of another.

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 critical advice I would offer a student is that it is better to have tried and failed then never to have tried at all. Also, to be patient with themselves as they too are “works in progress” and always should be throughout their lives.

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 love working with the creative minds that students at the The Art Institute of California—San Diego possess.There is so much talent, raw and realized, at this school that it creates a robust learning environment where students are interested in pushing the limits of their creativity and thought processes. The students seem to realize that every piece of information they learn, whether it is in their major or not, can somehow contribute to their creative endeavors and they are hungry for fuel with which to feed their creative fires.