Statement of Teaching Philosophy
My approach to teaching is to foster individual growth from the inside out — to provide everything possible to encourage a student’s most natural expression to emerge fully; to affirm that their own genius exists already and is their birthright; and to help root the groundwork for their faith in their innate creativity.
In my 26 years of creatively mentoring students with a wide range of learning styles, I have developed a unique pedagogy that picks up on early clues of a student’s original artistic voice. I introduce specific techniques that catalyze the flourishing of each individual's budding authentic language. I also offer students historical examples of formally, conceptually and energetically related work to affirm their instincts: let them see for themselves that they are already connected, across geography and time, with a larger constellation of artistic minds.
I have extensive experience nurturing creativity in young adults. At the Marwen Foundation in Chicago, I designed and taught a curriculum of art classes for high school seniors. With great attention on helping students to broaden their perspectives on contemporary art, I taught slip-casting techniques and sculpture classes. I also taught classes in expressive drawing with vine charcoal on large-format paper, with an emphasis on bringing whole-body physicality to the act of drawing. At the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, I taught ceramics and sculpture classes to dedicated inner-city 9-12th graders seeking after-school access to rigorous arts training.
Other examples of my commitment to teaching young adults include creating a Sound/Sculpture Installation Workshop at the Kohler Arts Center while on residency there, and workshops and demonstrations for undergraduate-level potters in China as an invited artist-educator at the 2018 Jianshui International Ceramics Conference. As Acting Head of the Ceramics Department at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA during an academic-year-long sabbatical replacement position (2019-2020), I was in charge of teaching all undergraduate-level ceramics courses in the program. I also mentored thesis writing and exhibition preparations, and managed the university’s glaze lab and kilns (gas and electric). Technical instruction included: wheel-throwing; hand-building; slip-casting; multi-media installation; basic clay/glaze science; reduction and oxidation firing; oxide inlay techniques; slip decoration including slip transfer, brushwork, slip trailing, sgraffito and mishima; extruded forms; oxide washes and underglazing; sprigging; press-molding; slab-built forms; and ephemeral site-specific sculpture installations using unfired local creek clay.
My wheel-throwing pedagogy is rooted in the British Studio Pottery tradition. I trained for two years as an apprentice to potters in the US and Australia — including Gwyn Hanssen Pigott in Queensland (who apprenticed with potters Bernard Leach, Ray Finch and Michael Cardew). I bring this direct lineage to my teaching. In addition, my background in photography is an asset in teaching students to professionally light and document their work.
Inventive processes, artistic risk, and a genuine searching for one’s personal growth edge have highest value in my classes — much more so than necessarily fully resolved, finished products. My approach guides students to deeply question their own assumptions, that they may begin to develop the lifelong task of recognizing when self-imposed and/or cultural limitations may be getting in their way. Together, as a class, we learn what it feels like to navigate beyond any number of limitations on the way to authentic expression and expansion. We witness what Breakthrough looks like in one another.
I particularly love working with young artists to plant clarity and confidence early in the game — for the sake of their recognizing and pursuing real freedom on the path of artistic self-discovery, especially during this invaluable window of exploratory time before professionalization begins.