I go into each new year as professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a sense of anxiety. New faces, younger every year, stare back at me as I introduce myself and talk about expectations.
As time has gone on and I've been teaching over 20 years now, the comfort kids have with me has decreased. As I gained notoriety in the field and gotten older, they seem more reserved around me, some are actually scared. I work hard all semester to break that down, to be someone who they can trust and push back against as we work out what kind of artists they want to be.
Pratt and UArts are different in many ways but the cream always rises and both schools produce young artists destined for solid careers. At Pratt I teach a senior portfolio class that is really a series of crits and challenges I force on my students. They are seniors.
At the University of the Arts I teach juniors and teach them for the fall and spring semesters. This is more intense and I take them through an understanding of the figure to drawing and painting portraits. We are doing assignments all the way through and the class evolves into a straight illustration course at the end.
In both colleges I have talented students, too many to show here so I had to pull a small list of my students who did consistently solid work.
The reward in all of this is I get to see great young talent TRY so hard. They want this badly and are in that first blush of excitement over doing new work with new skills. They attack each piece and really see then as an opportunity to show off, not just get them done.
Next year they will be younger. Shockingly, they will have been born the year I started teaching and I will work super hard to show them I know what I'm talking about and that I care about them and their work.
Take a moment and look over the work of some of my students...