Working with students is a privilege and responsibility that I greatly enjoy. Whether I am teaching art history or studio classes, I establish a dialogue of mutual respect and empathetic interaction as the foundation for the classroom learning experience. My classes ultimately seek to expand the historical perspectives, expressive voices, and critical faculties of all parties involved. While I initiate the process of learning through lectures, guided activities, and homework assignments, I expect students to actively engage those materials, developing a professional but friendly rapport over time. Both art history and studio art require an initial investment of information and techniques, but as students gain confidence in manipulating those ideas, they become increasingly proficient and independent using them.
In art history classes, I emphasize the exploration of social history and cultural expressions through the material record of artistic behavior. These courses balance canonical and vernacular works that represent broad perspectives and a diverse spectrum of expressive practices, exposing a variety of cultural perspectives while exploring how social structures have affected and been materialized through artistic production. My lower-level classes are more lecture intensive, providing sufficient content for students to enter into the interpretive process while developing skills and vocabulary for the visual analysis of artworks in verbal and written form. The growth of visual literacy is one of the essential components of art history classes at all levels, and contributes to students’ development as critical, thinking individuals. Ours is an increasingly visual world where images replace textual expression, and learning to recognize, articulate, and critique the meanings encoded in visual and material culture empowers students to take hold of the symbolic worlds in which they are immersed. My upper levels courses rely more heavily on dialogue and group discussion, emphasizing the development of written skills through mutual critique, supportive workshopping, and group feedback, while also introducing theoretical perspectives as means for grappling with artistic meaning.
As a studio instructor, it is my baseline belief that all students are artists with valid ideas, emotions, and experiences worthy of visual expression. Art making is the product of human need for expression and hard work rather than innate talent, and with directed effort students can learn to develop their ideas in a suitable style following their natural tendencies. I employ a traditional studio approach as a starting point for developing personal artistic style, emphasizing the exploration of media and techniques, working from life, and the mastery of basic formal concepts such as value, gesture, and composition. As students gain proficiency and confidence, they are equipped to develop their own styles and explore the conceptual dimensions of their individual expressive voices in more advanced classes.
Throughout the process of artistic development, the verbal articulation of formal elements is an essential skill in directing students’ progress, and my work as an art historian directly contributes to my studio instruction. Critiques are an equally important part of this process, as students learn about their work through each other’s perspectives. In my crits, I emphasize the validation of success while also finding constructive means of expressing critique; successful projects are those exhibiting a close fit between the intended message, the medium, and the style of its expression. Students are evaluated on their effort and willingness to take risks in exploring their artistic voices, as well as for their creativity, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
All written and artistic content of this site are solely the property of Klinton Burgio-Ericson and may not be used, distributed, or reposted without his expressed written permission.