Lecturer, Critical Theory and Studio Practice, Concordia University Master of Fine Arts Program, Montreal (1995)
I created a unique course to teach research skills to MFA students in direct relation to their own studio practice, and gave advanced tutorials in critical thinking and research skills for fine arts practitioners at MFA level. My approach was not to teach a canon of critical theory, but rather to teach emerging artists how to think critically, and how to effect academic research as an integral part of their studio practice.
From the course outline:
“In my opinion the most important tools art students can take away from a Critical Theory Seminar are: the ability to read well and variedly, to have confidence in their own discernment, and to pursue through reading an intellectual stimulation and companionship around issues which are of primary interest to him or her in their work in the visual field. Students need to know that (good) artists read extensively as part of our own research and development, prior to and concurrently with our production. They need to know how to find the material which is related to their own interests and production. They need to have that reading validated and discussed critically in a climate of inquiry.”
I assisted students to recognise their work in the context of, and as a contribution to, the history of ideas, by wrapping individually tailored syllabus and seminars around specific studio projects of each student. I encouraged students to formulate constructive critique and reading suggestions for each other, pairing students to hone their critical faculties and extend their research interests.
My seminar lectures touched on the integrity of ideas with matter; the materiality of letterforms and the book; and a range of research methodologies, including how to work with primary sources in archives how to collaborate with colleagues in adjacent disciplines. Guest lecturers were also invited by me to discuss curating and publishing around social issues. I also examined a number of final year projects of MFA students completing the programme in the 1990s.
Further Links: Concordia University Studio Arts Programme
[Image References: Engineering, Computer Science Visual Arts Integrated Complex Staircase, Concordia University; sculpture class crit, MFA in Studio Arts, Concordia University]