It's been a long while since I have posted. Things have been kind of stressful and exciting lately. More on that later...
Yesterday was the annual Kenilworth Open Studios event. I was fortunate to see several former students and have a chance to talk to with everyone. Former student Erik Darbo came by and brought me the gorgeous cutting board (that he made) and that you see here. It was so kind of him. Jill was thrilled to see it when I walked in the door with it yesterday evening. Erik is a new father and I was so proud to see him in this role. He is a natural and his family is so fortunate to have someone so caring and kind. I can't wait to see the talents that his little boy, Gibson, will have as he grows up (music and making for certain). It's great to see the altered perspective that some people gain when they have children and Erik and Allison are no exception. It's so cool to see them excelling at parenthood!
I also got to see former student, Christof Sander. He told me about all of the exciting jobs he is juggling at Scathain. It's been a trying week so it was so good see these guys and remember working with them. I was also able to meet the parents of several of my current students. I also had a good time after the Open Studios event was over, talking to Cameron, Lionel, Becky, Kaivahn, and Lionel's mother. It's good to put things into perspective and remind myself that it's the people and relationships in life that make something special. Institutions, places, names, programs, titles, and studios will change and evolve BUT the relationships and people involved are the CORE that creates moments of learning, energy, honesty, and special moments that live on in people (not places).
I have decided to leave UWM and will be teaching at a new institution in the Fall. It was a difficult decision for Jill and I, but there were many factors that made us decide to make the move. I will be sad to leave many of our friends and especially to leave students that we have become close to. My current undergraduate and graduate students are some of the best people I have encountered and so it was difficult to tell them the news. That said, I think the move will be best for our family and my sanity. Work has been getting more and more difficult as I see students struggling due to manipulation and un-healthy learning environment. I pride myself in providing a healthy and positive learning environment within the Digital Craft Research Lab and I have seen the energy grow. Upper administration understands the impact that the DCRL has been able to have upon our students; just as our students and their parents have witnessed and noted this weekend. This past week I received compliments directly from a UWM Vice Chancellor and Chancellor Mone himself, when he visited the DCRL. There was a very kind exchange of words in both instances.
The current economic climate has created an analyzation of numbers and data that is damaging Departments from within. I feel like we are teaching to a number goal rather than teaching to the quality of the education. Elements of education like learning outcomes and objectives are being replaced by perceived interest in an area of concentration or popularity. I hope UWM will be able to survive this current situation and that the people I worked with and have respect for will be able to weather the storm. It's a difficult situation that leaves the sincere teachers and non-power hungry people vulnerable.
I will be around for a while as I figure out how to ship my studio out East and as Jill and I prepare our house to sell. Our family is excited for the future and excited for the productive challenges that await!