A few years ago, I started teaching Intro to Painting at Teachers College, Columbia University, where I have been a professor of art education since 2003. Before then, I had been teaching primarily theory classes, which I still enjoy. But being in the studio surrounded by canvas and paper and pictures that change every day was like being home. When I began teaching, I became fascinated by the learning process of graduate students who had “mastered school,” to quote one of them, but had had minimal art experience. These students discovered that the process of painting awakened them to seeing the world with fresh eyes, for example. It also enabled them to access unexplored aspects of themselves. I am currently conducting some research to learn more about what adults in fields other than art gain from sustained studio experiences – more on this in the future.
I am also involved in museum education. In this realm, I am intrigued by the imaginative worlds that emerge when people engage actively with artworks. I have written several articles on this topic; specifically, I have focused on how educators might facilitate meaningful encounters with works of art. My interest in museum education goes back to 1997, when I was hired as a museum educator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Subsequently, I was Head of Education at the Noguchi Museum, also in New York City. As a lecturer and consultant, I have continued to collaborate with museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, and el Museo del Barrio in New York City, the Hirshhorn in Washington D.C., and the St. Louis Museum of Art.
Beyond the US, I have had the privilege to teach graduate students, professional educators, and other adults in Japan, China, and in my native Mexico. Working alongside these individuals, watching them make sense of themselves and their worlds through art, has been an amazing way to learn about life across cultures.
I am currently working on a book about museum education, among other writing projects. In the near future, I am looking forward to teaching some more workshops in Mexico; and to continuing my work with Teachers College’s masters and doctoral students. I also look forward to setting some more time aside for my own painting.