benjamin thorp
teaching statement

As an environmental artist, using sound and a wide range of new and old tools, materials and methods, I engage multiple audiences in sensory experiences that further an appreciation and challenge one’s understanding of their surroundings. My art making, theoretical reflection and pedagogy are intimately entwined. As an educator, I strive to create a classroom laboratory where exploration of new technologies exists parallel to a critical examination of their impact on the social, political and aesthetic landscape.  Understanding the historical and theoretical framework of the practice of making art while acknowledging the role artists have had in shaping history and theoretical discourse is central to my teaching strategy.   

I consider my pedagogy to be progressive and I seek to create a classroom where each student develops critical thinking skills and pursues their own unique set of interests, research and ideas within the context of our study of the dynamic field of art and its relationship to technology. As a teacher, I seek to both impart knowledge and to foster the inquisitiveness and curiosity of students by responding to their interests and desires.  

Art-making with digital technologies requires that students not only passively utilize the popular trends and packaged effects that are available to them, but to also develop and articulate an understanding of the fundamentals behind these tools in order to imagine and develop new alternatives. While there are foundational ideas that students need to learn, I also recognize that in the rapidly changing global context of digital media, it is imperative to quickly adapt and ensure that curriculum is trans-disciplinary, diverse in content and includes an analysis of our relationship to contemporary culture.

In a pedagogy that emphasizes an individual's critical examination and experimentation with ideas and materials, I also challenge students to take part in the creation of a discourse and dialogue with others and to learn to eloquently communicate their ideas while listening to others and learning to collaborate. I stress the development of informal and formal writing skills, and even as art and technology are specialized disciplines, it is critical to teach students how to speak to a broader audience and to communicate their ideas and art to diverse publics.