Artist Statement

Picasso said, “We all know art is not truth. Art is the lie that makes us realize truth.” Making art is a search for truth and meaning. When I am in the process of creation I feel as though I am glimpsing pieces of higher truths. Making art is my attempt to capture those pieces and reassemble them into something I can share with others. Art allows me to innovate, to try doing things in a new way, without fear of failure. Art is not an escape, but a mechanism for connecting with others.

My artwork has a certain graphical, illustrative quality to it—a holdover from a youthful obsession with comic book art. I am also influenced by the Pop Art movement, and by artists like Trenton Doyle Hancock, Billy Hassell, Ken Price, and Matt Wedel. I cherish the art that has influenced me, and I try to demonstrate the effects of that influence in my own work. I am connected to those artists through this influence, and those who see and are influenced by my art are then connected to me. This is just one example of how art connects us all.

I am intentional in my focus on color, shape, and form. I use bold colors in an effort to explore the associations between color and emotions. I am very interested in the symbolic use of color in different cultures, and I strive to make use of that symbolism when it is appropriate. I am fascinated by art as an expression of cultural heritage and love learning about the history of different cultures through their art. There is so much to be learned through art. Take ceramics, for example. I have learned about geology and chemical composition from preparing clay and mixing glazes. I have learned about chemical reactions from monitoring reduction firings in a gas kiln. Through art I gain a broader understanding of the world around me.

The majority of my work outside of an academic setting has been drawing and digital illustrations, but I also paint, create sculptures, and work with ceramics. I believe ceramics will become a new focus for my artistic pursuits moving forward. The majority of the pottery I have created so far is functional, and I enjoy creating items that are beautiful and useful. However, I am excited about exploring the sculptural side of ceramics more in the near future.

I believe that mastery of technique is important. I strive to achieve a certain level of proficiency in each medium that I work with, especially in illustration, sculpture, and ceramics. In this way, I am able to express my creative vision in exactly the way I intended. I believe the skill used in creating the art should be evident in the finished piece, and I aspire to bring a little bit of beauty into the lives of those around me with my art.

The purpose of my art is to elicit amusement and visual delight. The person viewing my art should be able to appreciate it without having to figure out what they are looking at. Also, people viewing my art should be able to enjoy it even if they have no idea what the underlying concept is. I believe that concept is important but not as important as how my art makes people feel. I welcome and encourage new interpretations of my artwork by those viewing it. I believe the truth of my art is not only in my intentions, but also in the assumptions and interpretations made by those who view it. My art is successful if it stimulates interaction and discussion between me and those who are experiencing it. Through this interaction my audience and I will come to understand each other more.

Teaching Statement

I have been an artist my entire life. I want to be an art teacher because I believe that education is the best method we have to prepare our children for the future. However, the education system we have today needs to change. The modern system of education was created for a different time, long since passed. It was modeled after factories during the Industrial Revolution. The ringing bells, the way all subjects are separated and taught in different facilities, grouping children by their age instead of by their interests—these are all remnants of an antiquated system of teaching that is no longer appropriate or sufficient.

I believe students who are gifted in the visual arts are being marginalized and discouraged by our current education system. All young children draw. They do it because they love it, and it does not even occur to them to question whether or not they are good at it. I agree very much with the quote commonly attributed to Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” When children first enter school, they do not worry about being wrong. However, as they progress through our education system children grow more and more fearful of being wrong. Ken Robinson says in his TED talk Do Schools Kill Creativity, “if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original”. We cannot teach children to come up with new ideas if they are terrified of giving the wrong answer. The special and unique thing about art is there is no right or wrong answer. Through art education children can learn to generate new ideas without the fear of being wrong.

It is our job as art educators to help all students maximize their creative potential. In that same talk, Ken Robinson speaks about creativity. He defines it as “the process of having original ideas that have value”. He says “creativity is as important as literacy”. I agree. We should prioritize art education in schools the same way we prioritize mathematics. Art teachers must be advocates for greater integration of art into the general curriculum. It is also very important for teachers of all subjects, including art, to focus on interdisciplinary learning. People from different disciplines working together to solve a problem fosters creativity and innovation. When possible, art teachers should work with their peers to connect their art lessons to those in history, math, and science classes. In the future, our students will be expected to solve real world problems using the skills they developed through art education.

In his book, A Whole New Mind, author Daniel Pink writes about our society’s transition from the Information Age to what he calls the Conceptual Age. Due to the rise of material abundance in western society, we are no longer encumbered by the demands of providing food and shelter. As a result, our society is increasingly in search of beauty and meaning in our lives. Additionally, automation and the outsourcing of “knowledge work” have resulted in a society that now places greater value on artistry, authenticity, and inventiveness than they do on having the right knowledge-based skill set. Those who wish to succeed in the future must develop a number of new aptitudes, including creativity, pattern recognition, storytelling, and empathy. I believe art teachers are uniquely equipped to cultivate these aptitudes in our students. Instruction and practice in the visual arts has become even more instrumental in preparing our children to thrive in modern society.