It is my life’s dearest wish to make my life a gift. The gifts I have been given call to be given back. What I get out of teaching, whether at Fleisher Art Memorial, at Drexel University, or at my yoga studio; is the sense that I am connecting with others as human beings; and in so doing, supporting the students’ process of transformation and revelation.
I have been a lover and student of art throughout my life. I am a seeker. What I have to offer to students primarily is this love, this calling. I also offer the example of my practice and what I have learned about navigating uncertain waters.
Art-making is inherently open-ended; as we struggle to answer, we realize we were asking the wrong question. The finished work is not something we figure out; rather it arrives by revelation that we make a space for by wrestling in the darkness.
I can support this wrestling by lending the benefit of my experience and by modeling enthusiasm for and trust in this process. For example: Sometimes greater perseverance is needed; whereas at other times, what is needed is the discipline (or healthy detachment) to turn the piece to the wall for a while to allow the knot to disentangle itself. Sometimes, a trip to a museum is needed to expand one’s range of possibility or to find a kindred spirit in someone you have never met. Sometimes, we recognize the thing that fits oddly in the piece should, instead of being removed, become the cornerstone upon which the rest of the piece should be re-built. And sometimes the passage we cherish so much in the picture that we tiptoe around it, fearing to ruin it, is the very blockage suffocating us from resolution. Now, these mysteries, these seeming delusions, of art-making are about as mysterious to me as they are to the student. It is just that I trust myself to swim.
Communication is more listening than telling. Each student has a different learning mode, and different cues will be more or less potent, depending on the person. Along with verbal listening, I will look and comprehend what I see with the help of my experience, as well as my sense of adventure. When I finally do speak, I will mostly ask questions. With an adequate foundation, communication will be clear. At the end of the day, we share one humanity; and we know more about one another than we usually have the patience to realize.
As a teacher, I make a space that is nurturing, a place that is safe enough to get subtle. I hope to lend my eye to my students’ eye — to become their telescope/microscope/time machine/crystal ball.