I truly believe that I learn just as much from the students as they learn from me. This belief frames the way I approach teaching. I focus on facilitating an exchange of ideas to cultivate an open and receptive environment for diverse conversations. By engaging with art and artmaking through a variety of methods—reading, thinking, drawing, reflecting and listening—my students and I are able to shape and cultivate our minds and experience true personal and intellectual growth.
My role as an educator is to share what I know and guide my students towards their own voice while they also remember to remain open to new ideas. I have found this openness vital to my own work. This is evidenced by the words that guide and focus my approach to education. In a lecture given by the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson he states, "If you are not at the boundary between what is known and unknown, befuddled every day, you are not in the game." Growth and discovery in artmaking takes place in this world of known and unknown and this is exactly where an artist should want to be. I champion uncertainty in every endeavor while encouraging students to ask questions and embrace feelings of confusion or imbalance. As artist Janine Antoni states in a discussion of her tightrope performance work Touch in her Art 21 interview, “it wasn’t that I was getting more balanced, but that I was getting more comfortable with being out of balance.”
My ongoing artmaking-research incorporates my Indian heritage and interest in South Asian philosophies, particularly the concept of non-dualism as a way to trouble the centrality of the artist in Western approaches to art-making. In my research, I ask if it is possible to de-center the artist to open new possibilities and avenues for thinking through our work. In my teaching practice I cultivate a space that attempts to de-center the student and tolerant of uncertainty while encouraging students to approach their work prepositionally. I encourage students to think about, through, above, across, against, despite, among, beyond, inside, within, unlike, because of, in spite of, without, like, upon, etcetera. It is my assertion that an important aspect of being an educator is acclimating student to the feeling of being out of balance and guiding students through any initial hesitations to create an artmaking practice that is generative.
In my current teaching I am keenly aware that my students may not become professional artists. Regardless of their future professions, I make sure my enthusiasm for art and artmaking is infectious. Encouraging self-discovery through facilitating an environment where errors and missteps are seen as opportunities for growth rather than pitfalls. This is key to building a strong rapport with each other and with the arts in general. An equal balance of technical knowledge and creative problem solving is also required. Lighting a flame and piquing interest in the arts--an interest that reaches beyond the end of the class is my ultimate goal.