teaching practice

 

I started teaching while earning my MFA. Since 2008, it has been a privilege to have been trained by two different amazing corporations to provide Socratic-method, outcome-measurable instruction customized to the learner. In 2017 I started bringing these skills to art content, and publishing posts about teaching digital art practice on Medium.

ART316/412 : #glitchTutorial : tutoring Processing : holding the fire

Some of the art I make has invovled observing painful aspects of the human experience for long periods of time, sometimes years.

I grew up listening to doctors discuss treating patients; cancer, death, new babies, car accidents, gunshot wounds, all were part of my landscape of 'normal' from when I was very young. My sociologist godfather worked first with heroin addicts in the 60's and 70's in San Francisco, and later with the gay community there as it struggled to figure out why people were dying horrifying deaths, and how to prevent transmission of the disease. His contributions to training people to not catch AIDS saved lives. I think of him often as I read about the opioid epidemic facing rural America, and the powerlessness that follows discussion of that epidemic in the media.

We can only make contributions like Pat Biernacki's if we pay attention to people in their deepest pain, learn how to draw close and listen to them without judging. How to listen to the world's suffering while also not being overwhelmed by it, particularly in a world digitally connected to bad news? How can artists - those too-sensitive souls prone to destructive ways of coping - hold close to tough material without harming the self?

holding the fire is a workshop I teach in person. It's a methodology by which the artist can approach painful material with intention, clarity, and, with the anchors included in this practice, self-care. It provides each artist with containers for collecting and storing ideas, creative practice, moments for intense creative work, points of invitation to critique from others, and more.

For artists who are trauma survivors, I provide boundary-setting guidance for navigating conversations in critique or with audience. Some art communities struggle with the issues of "expressive art" - autobiographical or trauma-based work - particularly when juxtaposed with "conceptual art", which tends to be prioritized in the art-historical discussion of art. This workshop has evoked conversation validating both forms of work and providing all participants with approaches to make room for "the other".

holding the fire is paired with a discussion tracing an art history of creators and movements from World War I to 9/11/2001 and the present day. This history focuses on artists' strategiesfor forging works from the crucible of experienced or witnessed trauma, horror, war, etc.

I have provided this talk and workshop as a visiting artist to two University communities. This methodology empowers artists to build their capacity for addressing human-made realities of war and other horrors. If you work in an art department or creative community that you think would be a good place for me to visit, email me your questions and concerns.