Frank Robert Acton

Frank Acton

The differences we reveal are small in comparison to the similarities we possess. Frank Robert Acton , Instructor , The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

Inasmuch as psychotherapy is a creative activity of a slightly different sort than that of most of my colleagues here, I’d have to say that working as a detective started me on the road to learning more about the human condition (with degrees in Anthropology, Philosophy, and psychology).

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?

My use of accounts from my past professions (yes, plural) informs all that I teach—they are as woven into my life as they will be in those of my students. Whatever career in the arts each student chooses, that person will have to meet the same life challenges everyone encounters; and, the stories I tell in my classes are illustrative of those challenges regardless of profession. 

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?

I taught a philosophy class in Aesthetics that required students to examine their own view of what art is, for what should it be used, and their own role in making it so. I did it whilst asking them to evaluate a chosen piece, and do it three times (with different pieces) throughout the class. The growth in consideration and in critical thinking respective to this topic that students have shown from weeks three, six, and nine is remarkable.

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 believe in the unity of all people on this planet; that the differences we reveal are small in comparison to the similarities we possess; and that most people are essentially good. I attempt to break down the fear of each other especially so sadly inculcated in this generation so that my students can at some point achieve a healthy, happy, life.

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 take being a faculty member very seriously, even though I use humor frequently to make points. I believe nearly everything is a potentially teachable subject, and never confine myself to the subject matter of my classes to impart something I believe students need to learn.