Teaching Philoshophy

"Laguna Pueblo"


My teaching philosophy mirrors my educational experiences. During my graduate school experience, I was simultaneously enrolled in the University of Iowa’s Graduate MFA program as well as in their K-12 Art Education Certification program. This exposed me to a rigorous studio environment as well as to a practical hands on art education program where the ideas of education theorists such as Viktor Lowenfeld, Lev Vygotsky, Kimberly Kinsler, and others were both explored and put into practice in a classroom setting. Art education theorists Lowenfeld and Kinsler dedicated their lives not only to the most subtle ideas of art education theory, but also to the dynamics of human interaction between student and teacher. Their philosophies along with my experience in teaching have shaped my ideas about teaching.

My bicultural background has made me more attentive to different educational philosophies. I cherished attending kindergarten in Mexico, matriculating through public schools in New Mexico, acquiring a liberal arts degree from Carleton College in Minnesota and graduating with my MA/MFA and Art Education Teacher’s Certification from the University of Iowa. From poorly funded state schools in Mexico to nationally-acclaimed private and public schools in the Midwest, my varied educational experience has had an impact on my personal teaching philosophy. Carleton’s strong liberal arts program reinforced my passion for discovery and intellectual challenges while the University of Iowa’s exemplary studio art environment propelled my development as an artist and art teacher.

Through my passion for teaching, I aspire to invoke in my students a sense of curiosity and intellectual adventure. Having taught students ages five to well into their sixties, I have grown more flexible in approaching students and applying various techniques as I deem necessary and helpful for a particular situation. I do not subscribe to one particular teaching philosophy. Rather, I combine ideas that inspire students to explore their environment, calling on intuition and tradition as well as rational and formal analysis. Also, having a sense of history and place, I firmly believe aids in a student’s growth and understanding of self. This in turn allows a student to move from an acceptance of self to an analysis of self relative to the world.

My liberal arts education exemplifies this type of learning. Capacious in nature and rewarding on levels that one can only grow to know, a great liberal arts education coupled with a practical exploration of techniques and methods in studio art has taken me past many thresholds. As the Prophet Kahil Gibran has stated, “The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”

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"Laguna Pueblo" was one of my first large format paintings on wood with gouache.  When I created this painting, I was in my senior year at Carleton College.  I was homesick and was scanning a couple of New Mexico magazines created to promote tourism in New Mexico.  I found this thumbnail image of this New Mexican pueblo and created this large painting (22" h x 34" w) referencing a one inch photo.  I had no idea where this pueblo was located in New Mexico, but I was captivated by the light on the church and the majestic mountains in the background. Years later I was in graduate school attending a talk given by the famous Kiowa poet N. Scott Momaday where I presented him with an image of this painting and told him that I was homesick for the southwest.  He saw the image and simply said, "Come home young man."  That was in 1998 and I had two more years of graduate school to complete.  In 2007 I went for an interview to teach at NMSU in Grants, NM.  On my way to Grants along I-40, I drove by the very site where the photograph for this image had been taken with Mount Taylor in the background.  Little did I know that I would be driving by this site twice a week and that Mount Taylor would become one of the more studied subjects in my own artwork.  I have come home and this initial landscape completed in 1994 at Carleton College, has become one of my most cherished paintings given its representation of my path back to New Mexico.

NMSU email: agene@nmsu.edu