I have dedicated my life to the study and practice of making and have made it a priority to immerse myself in the creative world. Because of this, my passion truly lies in the ability to share my love of the arts with others through teaching. I know firsthand how important it is that an educator be fully engaged with their students and attuned to each individual’s needs. The mark of a good educator, I believe, is not only to groom and support students with natural gifts and advanced technical abilities, but also to patiently work with students who are struggling, uninspired, or apathetic. Even with an educator’s best efforts, some students may exhibit reluctance or apathy in class. These students, however, need the most individual attention and I strive to find ways for them to excel technically and intellectually in my class. Individual attention with full consideration of each student’s needs allows me to cater lesson plans and demonstrations to allow them to succeed in individual projects - but also in their course of study.


Making sure that students understand how their work fits into the world historically and culturally is extremely important to me. I believe that it is imperative for students be cognizant of the work that came before theirs and understand how that historical context affects their work conceptually. I help my students become more knowledgeable about art history by asking them to bring historical and contemporary influence into their thinking and ideation process as they are making or writing. Critical thinking and problem solving are necessary to the development and growth of a student’s work and thinking capacity, so I make it an integral part of my teaching style. I assign reading or research projects in conjunction with their studio work that help students get excited about learning these things, as opposed to making it a tedium. Collaborative discussions are also incorporated in the process -- it forces students to think critically, and reflect upon their own convictions and ideals. I integrate these types of discussions and activities into classes intermittently as part of my general class structure.
Technical proficiency is difficult to master, but I push students to hone skills as they move through each project progressively. I generally lay the primary focus on developing skills in my classes. When I teach courses that require physical fabrication practices, I give thorough and interactive technical demonstrations so that students have a clear understanding of how to move through the making process in creating their work. I also believe that providing students with in-depth guidance through these processes inspires them to experiment and take their work further on their own. Because my requirements in this area are fairly strict, I make a point to be attuned with individual progress and a student’s needs in order to help them develop new skills, hone existing ones, and be able to better troubleshoot issues that may arise in their making.


Additionally I believe that constructive criticism throughout the length of the course breeds the best resulting work. I structure my classes to allow for small informal progress critiques throughout the course of the project’s length. This provides students with feedback from me as well as their peers and allows them the time to solve technical issues and further develop their work conceptually. Because they receive feedback from their peers, the student is also allowed the opportunity to gauge how their work is communicating, and make changes accordingly in order to make the most successful work possible.


Finally, collaborative final critiques are a beneficial way for students to have their work assessed. It is important for students to both write about their work as well as speak about it. Some students excel at communicating through writing, while others through speaking, so I provide opportunities for all students to feel that their voice is being heard. Additionally, I like the students to speak about their work and hear critical feedback from their peers before I provide my critiques. My role as a professor is to guide and assess, but by having these collaborative critiques, the student has the opportunity to understand how their work is received by a larger, more varied audience.


Education is my passion and the ultimate goal of my teaching is to share that passion and inspire a love for making and the arts in my students. I strive to create learning opportunities that allow the satisfaction of improving their technical skills, honing critical thinking processes, and bettering themselves as a student and artist as a whole.

© 2017 Olivia La Selva. All rights reserved.