On the Mansfield Campus of The Ohio State University, introductory undergraduate courses are our primary emphasis. Ohio State students who begin an art major on the Mansfield campus must eventually transfer to the Columbus campus to complete their degrees. Because the courses I teach at OSU Mansfield are part of the art department curriculum, I adhere to the course objectives formulated by the department to ensure my introductory students undergo a similar experience to those of students on the Columbus campus. However, I have made minor modifications to each course to reflect my personal teaching goals and to prepare Mansfield students for success in Columbus.
One of my significant achievements at Ohio State has been the development of digital art facilities and courses on the Mansfield campus. Since accepting my position in 2009, I have established a state-of-the-art digital lab on campus, and I continue to maintain its software and equipment, including a large-format professional inkjet printer, high-resolution scanners, and iMac computers outfitted with the Adobe Creative Suite. I have also enriched the visual arts curriculum and culture of the Mansfield campus by offering courses such as Introduction to Digital Photography, Digital Image Manipulation I, and Expanded Media.
Introduction to Digital Photography acquaints students with photographic techniques as well as the history, theory, and contemporary practice of photography. Unlike students on the Columbus campus, my beginning photography students are granted access to the campus digital lab. As part of the course, I include demonstrations on how to utilize Adobe Photoshop’s Camera RAW plug-in, Adobe Bridge, and an Epson large-format professional inkjet printer. Through exposure to this software and equipment, OSU Mansfield photography students leave Introduction to Digital Photography with a well-rounded introduction to digital input, post-production, and output.
Digital Image Manipulation I is an introduction to creating, manipulating, and outputting graphic images as a means of creative expression. Upon arriving at The Ohio State University Mansfield, I obtained equipment to enhance my students’ experience in this course, including Nikon D40 digital single lens reflex cameras, Wacom Tablets, and an 11x14 inch, high-resolution photo scanner. By having access to this state-of-the-art equipment, students exit Digital Manipulation I with sophisticated knowledge of digital tools. Digital Image Manipulation I students are also introduced to the digital lab’s large-format inkjet printer which allows them to consider their digital compositions outside of the computer. I keep an assortment of photographic paper in the lab so students may experiment with a variety of paper surfaces and scales.
On the Columbus Campus of Ohio State, Digital Image Manipulation I students participate in an end-of-quarter exhibition to showcase their final projects. To give Ohio State Mansfield students a similar experience, I designed the final project for my course to require the preparation of a digital artwork for exhibition. My Digital Image Manipulation I students have displayed these final projects in the Mansfield campus library, the student union, the math lab, the Pearl Conard Art Gallery on campus, and in a downtown Mansfield exhibition space.
Students enrolled in Expanded Media (formally Real and Recorded Time Arts) are introduced to the basic concepts of time-based artwork. Expanded Media students complete a variety of assignments throughout the course through which they explore video, sound, performance, and ephemeral art. In conjunction with these assignments, I introduce historical and contemporary trends surrounding time-based art through readings, writing assignments, and class discussions. Although Expanded Media had been taught on the Mansfield Campus prior to my arrival, many students did not have access to the equipment needed to complete their assignments. To provide students with essential tools, I purchased high-definition video cameras and portable 24-bit wave recorders. On the Columbus Campus of The Ohio State University, Expanded Media students use the iMovie software program to create moving compositions. When I started teaching the course, I found this program limited my students’ creative goals. As a result, I now introduce the software programs Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere to give students greater flexibility with moving imagery including presenting multiple pieces of footage on one canvas, compositing, or animating changes throughout a video.
Because of the ease with which digital information can be copied and transferred, digital media yields greater opportunities for appropriation and collage. To ensure that students appropriate content responsibly and intelligently in my technology-related courses, I introduce the history of appropriation in art and expose students to artists who incorporate pre-existing imagery in their artwork for purposes of critique, parody, or commentary. I introduce copyright law and fair use, a doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted materials. Students discuss and debate actual copyright law violation cases that involve artists. Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that helps artists apply limited protection to their work, is introduced to students as an alternative to copyright. Students come away from these discussions able to make informed decisions regarding appropriation in their own art practice.
To promote interdisciplinary collaboration, I seek opportunities for my art students to work with other academic areas on the campus of The Ohio State University Mansfield. In autumn 2010, I acted as an adviser to two undergraduate art students asked to design digital animations to be used on the set of The Ohio State University’s theater student production of Art by Yasmina Reza. Their design work not only enhanced the theater production, but it also earned a nomination to the design competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. My Digital Manipulation I students participated in a joint assignment with a creative writing class at the conclusion of the 2011 winter quarter through which they transformed appropriated poems and images. I am excited about the possibility of collaborations between art majors and students from other disciplines. These joint efforts will enhance my students’ academic experiences and expose students from other areas to the art area at The Ohio State University Mansfield.
Writing is an important component of my studio art courses at OSU Mansfield. In addition to writing in response to artworks presented in class, my students are required to compose statements regarding their own creative projects. In these statements, students discuss their process, inspirations, related research, and intentions concerning their work. Through writing these statements, students carefully consider the meanings they construct within their visual work and are better prepared to discuss their work both inside and outside the classroom.
In my studio courses, I ask students to consider the Internet as a platform for collaboration and sharing. I require my students to create their own weblogs where they post assignments and project statements. I encourage students to use these sites to provide feedback to their classmates and to expand their audiences beyond the classroom. Through developing weblogs, students gain experience preparing their work for online presentation, which will help them when they eventually establish a professional web presence related to their artistic practice. I have also developed websites for each course I offer at OSU Mansfield, which students may access for technical instructions, daily activities, and related links.
Because of the lack of diverse cultural opportunities in Richland County, art students on the OSU Mansfield campus are at a significant disadvantage compared with OSU Columbus students. There are few art exhibition spaces in the area, and those that do exist generally highlight regional artists who work in traditional methods. OSU Mansfield students are also unable to interact with a broad range of art faculty members, graduate students, or other art majors. In autumn 2011, I became the co-director of the Pearl Conard Art Gallery on the Mansfield campus. I see the gallery as an important educational space that may expose Mansfield students to contemporary, experimental approaches to art from outside the Mansfield community. With the help of Associate Professor John Thrasher, I organize six exhibitions each year at the Pearl Conard Art Gallery and integrate these exhibitions with my studio art courses through related assignments, verbal critiques, and written responses. Whenever possible, I also arrange lectures by exhibiting artists to provide students and community members opportunities to hear artists speak in relation to the exhibited work and to ask questions. In addition to artists from outside of Ohio, I organize one exhibition each year that introduces OSU Mansfield art students to the work of graduate students or faculty from OSU Columbus in an effort to build a greater connection between the two campuses.
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