My work as an artist and educator is driven by a process of active questioning and critical reflection. When I consider the scale of human need and uncertainty in the current global context I ask,
What is the role of the artist and the value of creativity in a constantly changing global landscape marked by profound human need, environmental crisis, injustice, oppression, economic uncertainty and significant social-political change ?
I believe the answer is in the question. It is only through creative action that it is possible to solve the world’s most pressing needs and to accomplish this work we need artists everywhere. Adding artists into this equation opens up unseen possibilities because artists bring creative processes and new models of thinking into problem solving. These new models can shift perception on complex issues and enable us to see connections and imagine solutions to meet overwhelming challenges.
Utilizing problem based pedagogy and socially engaged art practices, I bring my questions and values into my classroom and connect student learning to a real world context. By extending the campus into the community I facilitate opportunities for students to co-create socially engaged art projects with communities.
In this framework students begin to see how the practice of artists and designers is expansive and dynamic, and how we work and where we work is evolving. Within this context students are constantly shifting and reinventing practice and spaces of learning. Students need a broad range of methods, various models of practice, flexible thinking, and sound ethics to engage in this work. I strive to produce knowledgeable citizens of the world because we are always, at all times, citizens, artists, and designers.
Educators and institutions should have an expectation that students possess an educated awareness of the world and contemporary issues. Through problem based pedagogy and socially engaged art practices I increase opportunities for students to engage in this learning inside and outside the classroom. My students will constantly need to increase their understanding of difference, because they will be confronted with new value systems and cultural norms that they have never encountered. In this landscape we will be designing with and for others and students will need compassion, courage and skill to negotiate as well as thrive in this space.
The problems that artists and designers are presented with are increasingly complex and hard to define. Collective action with our networks and communities is necessary to undertake complex problems and develop strategies for purposeful innovation and social change. There is a need for artist and designers who are willing to create spaces of risk where we can reach across boundaries and build bridges to imagine our collective future. My classroom is where I begin.
My work as an artist and educator is located in the studio, classroom and community. Within these contexts I am building platforms for public engagement , dialog and social change.
I intentionally make spaces and participatory structures that are multi-layered and inclusive, and strive to build long term relationships in my community. This work involves taking the risk of knowing someone outside our boundaries and connecting art practice to the larger concerns in the world.
In all my work the printmaking studio is the primary platform and space of engagement for my creative endeavors. The printmaking studio is a space of collaboration and co-creation where individuals can gather to make and imagine new possibilities.
Working at the press bed we are informed and inspired by the rich history of this democratic medium. We contribute and participate in this history by making space for discourse about the value of building community and our civic responsibilities as artists. In this process we awaken our individual and collective power as citizens, artist and designers to activate democracy and propel social change.
Program Co-Creator and Director
In 2011, I had the incredible opportunity to co-create and launch the Public Engagement Minor at Maine College of Art. One of the first programs of its kind in an art school, this interdisciplinary curriculum is part of MECA’s 25 year legacy of socially engaged pedagogy. As the Director of Public Engagement I design and facilitate a four-year curricular pathway that integrates art, real-world problems and community partners. Students work with a range of partners in a variety of public contexts to address and solve complex issues in project and problem-based courses. Utilizing collaborative methods and participatory models, my students take action as citizens, artists, and designers. As a result, each student gains the skills and confidence to directly impact their culture and society during and after college. Together, we learn and apply the skills of co-creating, designing, building and activating our world to make it better for all.