Teaching

Teaching

 

I have been fortunate to study and in turn to teach a rigorous interdisciplinary practice of drawing, painting, digital media, and new genres. Beginning with Japanese and European Renaissance drawing techniques, I learned early on that realism, abstraction, and minimalism can be seen to exist along a spectrum and share a perceptual language. More recently, digital frameworks and performance tactics have expanded my understanding of representation to include the conceptual and even biological implications of picturing another human being or life form. While in-depth study is always illuminating, interdisciplinarity and the necessary audacity—and modesty—of the amateur also illustrate how little it can take to experience or communicate meaning. Doing more, or doing something else, we often find that doing less can benefit what we still paradoxically call “the work.”

The following class descriptions and sample student projects are from courses I have taught, co-taught and assisted at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Harvard University. For other examples of my independent and collaborative teaching at the intersection of contemporary and historical creative practices, see www.aestheticrelationalexercises.com.

Body Mind Figure Character: Movement for Artists

Summer 2019, Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM), Continuing Education, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Visiting Lecturer: Helen Singh-Miller

Olafur Eliasson,  Breathing House , 2018

Olafur Eliasson, Breathing House, 2018

Course Description:

Somatic practice – or the development of internal bodily awareness – is an increasingly common foundation for training in the visual and performing arts. Weaving together physical exercises and artistic experiments, this course introduces methods for leveraging the body-mind connection in making art. Using analog and digital media, students will be challenged to experiment with embodiment across a range of programs and platforms.


TIME: Seeing the World as A Picture

Spring Semester 2018, 2019, Studio Foundation, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Visiting Lecturer: Helen Singh-Miller 

Teaching Assistant: Maryam Yoon



Patrick Luc,  Painterly , 2018 Perceptual Theory + Tension Assignment

Patrick Luc, Painterly, 2018 Perceptual Theory + Tension Assignment

Course Description:

Are drawing and painting uniquely concerned with perspectival seeing and point-of-view or a reflection of how we naturally see and make sense of the world? Is the act of seeing a matter of discrete pictures—a series of Muybridge photographs—or is vision inherently seamless? In this course, we will experiment with old and new forms of time-based media, exploring the nature of appearances and their relationship to human movement. The approaches leveraged in this class will be both traditional and experimental. Illustration, animation, writing, film, and awareness practice will help to illuminate the subtle if significant role that time plays in art and design. Independent projects as well as peer to peer learning will support, challenge, and inspire the development of our work.


Visual Language

Fall Semester 2018, Studio Foundation, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Visiting Lecturer: Helen Singh-Miller 

Jack Kineke, 2018 My Camera Guide Assignment

Jack Kineke, 2018 My Camera Guide Assignment

Course Description:

Visual Language is like the 101 of art practice. The topics, concepts, terms, material, and media covered in the course are fundamental to the fields of art and design. Through prescribed projects emphasizing two-dimensional formats students progressively articulate their subjective interests, ideas, and visual affinities using both analog and digital technologies. Critical thinking and presentation are important. Contribution to conversation is expected. Historical as well as contemporary work is our context but it's up to students as well as faculty and visiting artists to determine what exactly constitutes contemporary art today.


TIME: The Art of Living

Fall Semester 2017, Spring Semester 2018, Studio Foundation, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Visiting Lecturer: Helen Singh-Miller 

Teaching Assistant: Maryam Yoon

Jillian King,  "Corvette" or "Calico" , 2017 Twilight Assignment

Jillian King, "Corvette" or "Calico", 2017 Twilight Assignment

Course description:

We all have an idea or picture of TIME—the proverbial clock on the classroom wall—but the art of living also requires a sense of timing. A sense of when the alarm clock is going to ring, in case it doesn’t, but also a sense of rhythm, empathy, and context. In this course, we will explore our unique and shared experiences of time in the context of daily life, design, and artmaking. Primary projects in time-based media will be supplemented by writing assignments and theoretical readings as we discern and hone the temporal dimension of our work. Awareness practice and meditation will further illuminate our relationship to time while peer to peer learning challenges and supports us.


Thesis Seminar: Studio Arts

Academic Years 2011, 12, 13, 14 

Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professors: VES Faculty

Teaching Fellow: Helen Miller

Course Description:

The senior thesis is the capstone of the undergraduate student's work in VES. The majority of theses in VES are practice-based, in studio arts or moving-image. Toward the end of their junior year, students propose a thesis project, a substantial body of work that builds on work done in other classes. Each student develops the thesis project in discussion with a faculty advisor, the thesis teaching fellow, and fellow thesis students through regular meetings and studio visits over the course of the academic year. Three times during this period, the student meets with the advisor and two faculty readers for critique and assessment. Thesis advisors and the thesis teaching fellow support students in writing artist statements. Thesis projects are exhibited at The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts in May.


Drawing Labs

2010-14, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES); Graduate School of Design (GSD); Arts@29 Garden Street, Harvard University

Teaching Fellow: Helen Miller

Class and Lab Description: 

As a teaching fellow in VES, I was lucky to have the support and freedom to teach drawing in conjunction with somatic practice. In weekly labs open to students from a variety of studio art classes taught by Katarina Burin, Helen Mirra, Matt Saunders, and Mungo Thompson, I experimented with enhancing traditional figure drawing lessons and Japanese and Renaissance drawing techniques with embodied education. Mirra and I installed a series of large mats in the sculpture studio for the purpose, a designated area which she called the Physical Intelligence Lab; Matt encouraged students interested in painting the figure to join in; Mungo attended sessions along with students; and on several occasions Katarina invited me to teach what I was developing around figure drawing to her Drawing 2 students. The open-mindedness, curiosity, and generosity of so many teachers, mentors, and students provided a context I'll not soon forget.



Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo

 

 

Spring Semester 2018, History of Art and Architecture (HAA), Harvard University

Professor: Cammy Brothers

TFs: Emily Auchincloss, Elena Lourtaeva, Elizabeth Molina, Helen Singh-Miller

Course Description: The Renaissance had many protagonists, but few loom as large as the three contemporaries and rivals who will form the focus of the course. In many regards, they shaped the notion of "genius" that we have inherited around themselves. The course builds out from these specific figures to a broader understanding of the Renaissance as an artistic and cultural phenomenon.

Museum field trips, weekly response papers, and drawing assignments co-designed and assessed by teaching fellows.


Surface Tensions

 

Spring Semester 2013, 2011, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Matt Saunders

TF: Helen Miller

Course Description: "Surface" considered as formal quality and useful tool. Whether taken to mean literal materials, the chain of ideas cohering a body of work, or painting's Teflon-like durability as cultural tradition, we'll pursue strategies to engage surface: seriality, alternative supports, facture/blur; mechanical tools, casualness and formality. Of particular interest are the challenges posed by seamlessness both in photographic sources and in conversations surrounding abstraction. 


Drawing Expanded

Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2011, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Katarina Burin

TF: Helen Miller

Course Description: An intermediate studio course to build upon basic skills while exploring various methods and modes of drawing. This course considers drawing as both an immediate and mediated form, with distanced and nuanced potential. 


Conceptual Figure

Fall Semester 2012, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Matt Saunders

TF: Helen Miller

Portrait, person, effigy, model, anatomy, subject, self?the body is often central in art. This course will examine many ways of approaching the human figure through painting. Working first from life, we will also consider the body in media, in horror, in history and in absentia; as politics, as sexuality, as identity and as idea.


Printed Matters

Fall Semester 2012, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Matt Saunders

TF: Helen Miller

Course Description: Painting's productive association with the technologies of reproduction. We will think both pre- and post-20th century, considering the analogue (intaglio printing, especially etching and aquatint; also block, book and commercial printing) and digital as worthy collaborators. 


Post-Studio Studio

 

Fall Semester 2010, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Mungo Thompson

TF: Helen Miller

Course Description: In today’s globalized, international art world, nomadic, laptop-based methods of producing and exhibiting art have rendered the traditional studio increasingly marginal to many art practices. How do artists function in, and address, this expanded field for both the production and reception of art?


Directed Research

 

Fall Semester 2010, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Mungo Thompson

TF: Helen Miller

Course Description: A group critique class with emphasis on presenting works in 3 stages: Promotion, Exhibition, Documentation. 


Postcards From Volcanoes

 

Spring Semester 2011, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES), Harvard University

Professor: Matt Saunders

TF: Helen Miller

Course Description: This is an intermediate painting class grounded in individual projects and group critique. Not limited to conventional forms, we will think broadly about the edge between inchoate material and inscribed meaning. Studio work will be coupled with abundant reading and discussion.