Pandemic teaching takes a toll and lots of things get moved to the back burner, including blog posts. So, belatedly, a few updates from Spring 2021.
It’s always exciting when a publication shows up in the mail. This particular article had a long road to print: I had received a grant from the National Art Education Foundation to develop a class on Activism, Art, and Design back in 2017; they had invited me to present a paper about it at their conference in Seattle in 2018; then suggested I should submit it for publication to the Art Education journal, which I did that summer. Following many rounds of peer review, some glitches when a reviewer had to drop out and be replaced, and the standard copy-editing and final proofing, it was a relief to finally see this one in print in early 2021.
In a bit of surprising timing, the journal arrived just as I was beginning to teach another new class developed through an NAEF grant. Slow Art for Fast Times, which I taught at Bethel College this spring, was part of my new research-creation project on Slow Practices for Speculative Futures. The course generated quite a bit of interest among students. An enrollment of 15 is high for an upper-level art class at Bethel, and it was gratifying to see that most of the students came from other disciplines and were simply interested in the ideas. We studied a wide variety of contemporary art and theories of slowness, had good discussions in class and online, and students gamely pursued a variety of hands-on “slow” assignments in walking, letter-writing, and gestures of care. (Ironically, one student who dropped the class after being too busy took it as a launching point for a series of essays she organized for the 2021 issue of the Mennonite Life journal.)
Thanks to the generous invitation of Dr. Natalie Loveless, I was able to give an artist talk and run a virtual workshop with interested writers, artists, and grad students at the University of Alberta this spring. I’ve never had such a good Q&A as after that talk, and we had a fantastic group of workshop participants who pursued the possibilities of letter-writing and listening in wonderfully creative directions.
It was also a good prelude to the amazing news that I finally received in late May, after months and months of waiting: beginning in January 2022, I will be the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arts, Humanities, and Culture at the University of Alberta! There is much to do to prepare but I am so thrilled to have this kind of opportunity once again, and in the company of such stellar scholars, artists, and thinkers. I am already looking forward to the collaborations that may develop.
Bethel College launched its first-ever May term this year, so I taught a 3-week online class on Art and Crime. It’s a class that I’d imagined developing for years and this was finally the impetus to do so. I really enjoyed the asynchronous format and the ways that students still engaged with the readings and with various films I assigned.
And finally, I was promoted to Full Professor in April. I am grateful to my peers on the Faculty Welfare Committee, and especially to the Academic Dean, for their steadfast support and encouragement. It’s been an eventful spring!