What is your role as an educator, and how long have you been doing it for?
I am a professor of Fine Arts at Colorado State University, and I specialize in Drawing. I’ve been doing that for about three years now.
Why do you feel what you do is important?
I feel that it’s important because of the lack of diversity in higher education. It’s important to see diversity, especially in professors, so that students can see that as an opportunity for themselves.
Growing up in Southern Florida, and I never had a black professor or a black teacher. It wasn’t until college that I realized that I wanted to become the professor I never had the chance to see. I wanted to be that person that people could try to see themselves in.
Why did you choose to teach Fine Arts?
I’ve been drawing my whole life, honestly. My parents are artists, and I grew up always drawing and creating art, so I could never really imagine doing anything else.
I feel like art is one of the biggest forms of representation and protest against the status quo. It is an important medium that tends to get overlooked. It is extremely needed in society to combat the status quo and to bring up discourse. Art is a great way to express your soul when the words are hard to find.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I love interacting with students and finding out exactly what they want to do. Exploring how they want to express themselves, and figuring out ways to help them do it. The only reason why I teach is to help students find themselves and their artistic voice. It’s really nice to then see that student able to go out and make changes in the world.
What is the best advice you ever received about your impact on education?
When I was getting my Bachelor’s–around the time when I was realizing that I had never had a professor that looked like me– I had a teacher who became like family to me, James Gregory Saunders. He told me that art should mean whatever you want it to mean, and that there’s no label on art. He said that you should fight for your right to do whatever you want to do, and that no one can tell you what to do with your art.
Don’t let them tell you how it should be, or that the type of art you make is meaningless. The scale of what is good art and what is bad art doesn’t exist. He told me to pursue education so that I could teach more students that art is all about self-expression, making changes in the world, and not being afraid to ask questions.
What advice do you have for future generations?
Remember that the whole point of education is to be constantly learning. You shouldn’t ever feel like you know everything about a certain subject. There’s always something new that you can learn.
Never stop learning because we’re all human, and it is impossible to know everything about anything. Never feel that you should stay stagnant or where you’re at. You should always try to grow and excel at whatever you are doing.
–Written by Talisa Caldwell
I teach drawing classes at a college fine arts level using a variety of mediums and techniques. My focus is to empower, inspire, and educate students in the realm of professional artistry. With these learned skills they can navigate space within the art community and work to bring their artistic voices to public means.