Practice Phyl.

Patrick Melroy: Teaching Philosophy

Art education in America today is vital and threatened, creative problem solving and dynamic innovation will rule the future and my intention is to prepare the students I work with for the opportunities they will face outside of academia.

While at UCSB I have been lucky to assist in the teaching of such a wide variety of classes. I believe my skills in the practices of photo, sculpture, digital media, theory, and my long time love drawing and painting make me a valuable and flexible instructor, one who is comfortable under the most diverse of circumstances.

The classroom is a platform and venue for exploration and discovery. There is nothing like the confluence of twenty energetic and enthusiastic young minds working to develop their inner thoughts into physical manifestations. The instructors role is to guide them away from their own negative impulses and instead keep them tethered to the inevitable success of their most ambitious plans. The environment of the art classroom provides brilliant unique opportunities rarely present in much of contemporary life. The art students capacity for growth and expansion are limitless, the revelation possible for their identity and self-awareness is magnificent and truly a thing to behold.

Providing a positive safe peer environment for their growth is paramount. The creative mind is dynamic and endlessly elastic in its abilities to absorb and innovate. The teaching done inside of an art classroom is so often elemental and simply connects with the student’s most inner sense of intuition and logic. Their ideas are embraced and nurtured in a manner unlike anywhere else in contemporary life. The imagined can become real in brief quick succession. My experiences inside of academia have run the gauntlet from industrial community college in rural Washington to the urban campus of the private art college and then to the massiveness of the university campus. I have participated in classes of three hundred and of five. I am comfortable communicating instruction to very small groups and very large organizations. The university as a setting for making art is so rich in inspiration and resource. The opportunity to involve the larger university community in a student’s art practice seems obvious and inevitable. There is a difference in working at UCSB from other places and those differences should be turned into benefits for our students.

I have spent years developing my own skill sets from digital technology and innovations in contemporary image making, to the historical crafts of carpentry and metal-working. I am most comfortable when instructing a person new to a skill set or technical practice. I learned for years (which continues still) from masters, eighty-year-old magicians with arthritic hands, weathered cabinet builders and generous quilters, I learned to listen and practice and make mistakes and then ask for more help. I try to always pass on to my students the value in asking for help and the benefits in making mistakes. Too often we want to be good at a task we are trying for the first time, contemporary commercial culture desperately wants to sell new users on this premise of instant expertise, however my experience has taught me that the more practice anything takes the more gratification you can glean from the success of accomplishing that task.

Learning never ends, no single subject can be so mastered as to never develop further. I believe in research, both through text and practice. I believe completely that my skills are ripe for transmission to others, but those skills are ever evolving, and never are they advancing faster than when I am faced with communicating them to another person. From art theory to art appreciation to art execution, I am constantly thrilled when I can divine a new method of articulation for my own understanding. My own understandings are safe when they remain internal, but when they are challenged externally by a class of bright investigative minds, that is the moment of real codification, when I have to truly be able to support my thoughts or change them in light of new input.

The privilege of teaching art is possibly the best part of my day. I find no burden in the lively engagement between myself and students on the subject of art. My evaluations often note a significant amount of enthusiasm for the subject, this is never forced. I am completely sincere in my enthusiasm for my classes. I mucked out the horse stalls in my youth, I dug the ditch for the sewer line, I carried sheet after sheet of plywood up the ladder, I know what I have in the classroom and it is one of my most treasured experiences and I anticipate continuing the practice of setting fires in the minds of artists through teaching for the rest of my life.


Popular Posts