Teaching & Students

Photogram Demonstration for Intro to Black & White Photography Class

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Presidential Subject

Barton College President Douglas Searcy rides a scooter through campus for students learning about stop motion photography.

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Teaching Philosophy

Truly there are two main concerns for my teaching. First of course is the transfer of knowledge, followed closely by preparation of students for future success – be this placement in a graduate program or achieving their initial career goals upon graduation. But, these more practical applications of teaching are far overshadowed by my goal to create critical thinkers that have the ability to assess, analyze and generate new knowledge in their field – be this through the craft of visual and commercial art or through academic research. In essence I actually see these two things as one in the same, for in my guiding of students through the academic levels I challenge them to make work not just as skilled crafts people, but as historians, as scientists, anthropologists and philosophers. For me there is no separation between the artistic and the intellectual – the left and right sides of the brain must work in unison. And, coupling this dichotomy with a careful study of history, students can create something new, innovative and unique.

Beginning with introductory level courses my teaching concentrates on skill acquisition and refinement. However, my courses fully integrate both historical and contemporary contexts into every lesson. It is important to see when, where, why and how techniques were developed. Also, I have students examine who were the originators of styles and movements and who are those contemporary artists descending from these long-standing traditions. In intermediate level courses I concentrate on expansion of knowledge and skills. This is where speciality comes into the conversation as students are encouraged to split hairs over conceptualism, production and specific modalities. In photography courses this may mean debating the origins of commercial and fine art photography through the historical traditions of Fox-Talbot and Daguerre. Or in commercial classes students distinguish work as either documentary, editorial or photojournalism while learning about the ethical constraints on these types of image-making. Advanced courses are largely devoted to fostering students’ individual voice through their medium. Senior seminar students are taken through a nine-part writing assignment that merges historical research with introspective musing. Often, I guide students through an interdisciplinary study where other academic areas are brought into the conversation. Creating synthesis between art and disparate areas of knowledge is one of the strongest skills I like to impart to students.

Teaching today requires a willingness to change and adapt to meet the needs of diverse student populations. No two people learn the same way and no two groups of students is ever alike. Because of this teachers must also never remain unchanged – not in instructional techniques nor in materials. Every time I teach a course the material is treated like a new preparation (well at least half-new). This allows for me to begin a class as it was instructed previously while modifying the content and assignments to best suit the current group dynamic. Responsive teaching could be one way to describe this method, but more simply I like to think of it as being conversational. In every course I employ a variety of teaching methods from traditional lecture, to interactive worksheets, readings, tests, demonstrations, studio assignments and of course seminar-like discussions.

With sleeves rolled up and hands in the chemicals, the best part about teaching is working with students to help them achieve their vision. There is nothing better than seeing them walk in their own success as intellectual artists with a voice to be heard and a message that matters.

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Students' Work Examples on Pinterest

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Courses Taught

Art: Book Arts
Art: Foundations I (2-d design)
Art: Foundations II (3-d design)
Art: Foundations - Color Theory
Art: Foundations - Cross Media Studies (4-D design)
Art: Graphic Design
Art: Junior Seminar
Art: Senior Seminar
Art Appreciation
Art History: East Asian Visual Culture
Art History: Gallery & Collection Studies
Art History: History of Photography
Art History: Technobabble - Art & Science
Photography: Advanced Digital Media
Photography: Color
Photography: Fine Art
Photography: Introduction to Darkroom
Photography: Introduction to Digital
Photography: Medium & Large Format Cameras
Photography: Nineteenth Century Proceses
Photography: Photojournalism
Photography: Professional I
Photography: Professional II
General Education Capstone: Critiquing the Internet
General Education Capstone: Gun Violence & the Media
General Education Capstone: Seeing Bias

Open Political Forum

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In response to tensions caused by the 2016 presidential campaign and election, students in my Foundations of Art and Color Theory classes were directed in the development of a free expression wall to voice their thoughts on the political landscape in America. This forum was open not just to students, but all members of the Barton College community to profess their feelings on issues facing the nation. A cart stocked with various art supplies was present at the site so visitors could write, draw, paint and add other art mediums to the wall. These images represent what was an ongoing visual conversation. One where participants debated one another by making point and counterpoint through artistic media. This experiment in self-expression continued through the end of fall term 2016. Click here to view the images.


Student Projects: ART 376

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Work shown here represents final projects for students enrolled in the Fine Art Photography class section at Barton for fall 2016. This course explores the development of advanced techniques in black & white and digital photography. An increased emphasis in this course is placed on creative use of photography for artistic expression. These final portfolios were produced independently and were based on preliminary projects completed throughout the semester.


Commercial Portrait Lighting

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Students engaged in a commercial portrait lighting exercise, with me holding a bounce card in the absence of a hair light.

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