The Impulse to Beauty

Tony Cuneo passed away earlier this week. He was a friend and colleague and one of the top three most masterful teachers I have known / observed / learned from / aspired to be like.

Here’s his Artist’s Statement, updated in July, when he was in the middle of his illness. In addition to my list above, Tony was a great artist (and father and baseball fan and . . .).

I don’t put a lot of faith in artist statements. 

Describing what I do as “work” has a slightly bitter, puritanical aftertaste to me; I like slopping paint around. It’s the reason I wanted to be an artist as a kid, and I think it’s still a fine reason to paint. I’m very comfortable with a perpetually unfinished process. I go (after much reflection) in whatever direction the painting takes me. Having too clearly defined a concept for a body of work (and this is just me) gives me claustrophobia.

I pray I never get to the point where I’m making product and not art.
Beyond that, I’m a fan of uncertainty. Not knowing you’re doing it right is a good thing. It makes you stop and think. When I paint, I’m playing as much as I’m working. I’m asking questions.

However having said that, the complex, charged tension between apparent opposites — chaos and order, emotion and intellect, creation and decay, high and low, representional and non-objective — is the text of my current painting; also, how the impulse to beauty wrestles with the desire for truth.  
Art is one of the most natural things in the world, fundamentally useless, but hugely pleasurable, very important, and deeply satisfying. 

Source & R.I.P.:

Teaching Now

Today, I recorded a podcast for Nabeel Ahmad, Partner at Rose Rock Dynamics, planned a Webinar for alumni at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and booked an in-person workshop for independent school Trustees. Though each lesson will be similar — focused on the teaching mindset documented in Make Yourself Clear — each classroom is very different.

Which means that, in each classroom, if I want to teach well, I have to ask myself some simple questions:

In the time and place that I’m meeting with these particular students, what can only happen then and there and in the way in which we’re assembled? What affordances exist in each context, and how can I make full use of them?

Obviously, the answer is very different if I’m doing a Webinar that will only serve a live audience vs. a Webinar that will serve both a live audience and an audience that listens to the recording at a later time. And the answer will again by different if I’m working with a face-to-face group. Or teaching with Reshan Richards, which happens to be the case for all the scenarios described in the first paragraph of this post.

Teaching now is amazing in that it happens in so many places and ways — it’s been untethered from its brick and mortar origins. But for the teacher who really wants each class to be special, there’s a lot (more) to consider. I like this challenge . . . or I guess I wouldn’t still be teaching as much as I do.