Michael in the Studio, photo credit: Will Morgan

Philosophy

statement of teaching philosophy:

I believe strongly in teaching the arts within the context of an inclusion-based pedagogy as the arts are more vital when they are more colorful. That is to say that art thrives when the full human experience is on display. I challenge my students to become participants in the conversations of art by seeking a visual language that is authentic to them. It is my aim to provide students with the visual skills, critical language and the historical contexts of art so that students are better equipped to critically examine those visual skills, the critical language and historical contexts of art. In other words, reframing those core skills and practices encountered in visual arts classes so as not to simply perpetuate those traditional practices that have come before but to challenge students to rethink what art is for them as individuals. The disciplines of art are vital forums to explore the myriad issues of identity, so understanding who a student is as an individual and helping them give voice to their particular interests, ideas and inspirations becomes my primary task.

There is much that can be done as pedagogical practice in the classroom to shift course content to address issues of diversity. For example, any examination of the canon of artists from art history, namely the male, Eurocentric traditions of painting, drawing and sculpture has to now include the exclusionary practices that have traditionally left out much of the world’s population from the histories of art. Alternative cultural histories and practices have to be included in order to provide students with other models of expression or at the very least to reexamine the traditional practices in greater context.

However, I believe we can and should do more to engage students at their own level through their own work. Best practices for inclusive teaching require a deep understanding of the challenges that diverse learners face, appreciating the differences in perspective and creating a space where the robust exchange of ideas can take place with respect for those differences. A teacher has to be aware of the historical harms caused to minoritized populations by the higher education system and seek to offer their class as a corrective to past practices. The work of inclusive teaching is hard, often challenging to the conventions of teaching and as a white, straight male means constantly confronting and acknowledging my own position of privilege. Ultimately, however, the process is extremely rewarding. In art, if we truly respect differences of perspective then we have to be prepared to have our students produce unexpected artworks in response to the problems we ask them to solve. This is the excitement and joy of teaching in an inclusive environment.

My own studio practice involves moving between abstractions in painting, drawing and printmaking. I compel my students to push the boundaries and limitations of any given media. The program my colleagues and I developed at Roger Williams University is by design, interdisciplinary, drawing on the proximity of a range of disciplines within the program and from across the University. I am greatly interested in interdisciplinary modes of working and encourage students to blur the lines between painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and electronic media seeking new and exciting hybrids when appropriate.

I have been fortunate to teach in places where I have been able to get to know the students over time as a full-time presence in the Department. I find that now I spend a long time listening to a student and trying to understand who they are as individuals. I then seek to engage them in a dialogue with myself as well as their peers and artists of the past in order to understand where the potential lies in their work. Rather than simply demonstrate how something should be done, I like to present questions and possibilities. A teacher, I believe should act as a guide, a positive and challenging force. When a goal is set and reached through struggle, questioning and personal decisions, the student gains confidence and grows as a result. When the target is close and easily reached, the teacher is there to help move it back.

teaching

2000 - present     Professor of Art (Full Time, Tenured): Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI

Undergraduate Courses Taught: Foundations of Painting • Oil Painting • Painting IV • Special Topics in Painting: Media Exploration, Color and the Painted Image, New Genres in Painting • Painting the Figure •
Advanced Figure Painting • Inter-Media Studio • Foundations of Drawing • Drawing the Figure • Advanced Drawing: Process and Content • Issues in Contemporary Art • Senior Studio • Visual Arts Thesis

2012 - 2013     Alumni Mentor, Painting Department, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA

Responsibilities: Graduate studio visits and guest critiques over the course of an entire academic year allowing a student-mentor relationship to develop as the students work progressed; Delivered a lecture on my painting and drawing along with fellow Alumni Mentor, Sarah Walko; Undergraduate course and studio visits; Participation in Painting department Open Studio events; Developed a Master Print series with the help of SCAD Director of Printmaking, Eun Lee, the print shop technical staff and selected students in the Printmaking Department.

1997 - 2000     Professor of Painting (Full Time): Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA

Graduate Courses Taught: Formal Aspects of Painting
Undergraduate Courses Taught: Abstract Painting • Advanced Life Painting • Advanced Painting • Color and the Painted Image • Intermediate Painting • Landscape Painting • Large Format Painting • Life Painting • Oil Painting • Senior Seminar
Foundations Courses Taught: Color Theory • Drawing 1 • Drawing 2 • Life Drawing 1

Administration:

2017 - present   Chair, Visual Arts, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI

2016 - 2017      Program Director, Visual Art Studies, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI

2005 - 2014      Program Coordinator, Visual Arts Studies, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI

Achievements: Development of assessment rubrics and practices of Visual Arts classes, student development and overall program performance • Academic advisement • Faculty adviser to the Art Society (a student-run organization) • Curriculum development of Foundations and BA programs • Creation of the BFA in Visual Art Studies Degree Program • Creation of the RWU Art on Campus Program to exhibit faculty, student and regional art • Creation of the Emerging Artist Program in conjunction with regional High Schools

Fellowships

2018 - present Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellow • Roger Williams University

I am very fortunate to participate in a peer-mentored community of practice that recognizes, rewards, and supports professional growth around diversity, social justice and inclusion in the classroom. This community is intended to be a space of growth where faculty can grapple with tough questions about the pedagogy of inclusion. This is a space where faculty can test out ideas, seek feedback, and learn about centering diverse and inclusive practices across all disciplines.

The D & I Fellows not only have a unique opportunity to participate in a community of practice where they hone and develop their own classroom methodologies in ways that center a pedagogy of social justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity, but they also shape the content that will be shared outward. The work is challenging, but is also deeply impactful.

workshops

2016     A Deeper Dive into Painting, Artist's Association of Nantucket 

             Mondays, July 29 - August 15, 9AM - 1 PM

2015     Oil Painting and Abstraction Workshop: Artist's Association of Nantucket

2014     Oil Painting Immersion:  Nantucket Oil Workshops

2014     Drawing Nature: Artist's Association of Nantucket

Student Work Gallery

Foundations Drawing, Foundations Painting, Advanced Drawing, Intermediate Painting, Oil Painting, Inter Media Studio, Senior Studio