It is my honor to submit this statement regarding my teaching experience and philosophy on the occasion of my nomination for the College of Arts and Science’s Outstanding Teaching Award. In the past two years that I have been a part of the NYU community while working toward a PhD at the Institute of Fine Arts, I have gained invaluable professional experience in the Department of Art History as a writing tutor, a course assistant/grader for a survey course on medieval art (my field of expertise), and as a recitation leader/graduate adjunct instructor for History of Western Art I. In addition to serving in the Department of Art History, I am also currently working as a course assistant for the CAS’ Freshman Honors Scholars Seminar, for which I led museum tours in Florence, Italy during a recent week-long student trip. I am currently mentoring several students in the Scholars Seminar in developing preliminary research proposals on topics related to the intersection of artificial intelligence and the visual arts.
As a recitation leader/graduate adjunct instructor for History of Western Art I—a position I have now held for two consecutive semesters—I have cultivated an approach to teaching western art history that embraces connections between the visual and material cultures of the past and the political, social, and visual worlds that we inhabit today. In addition to bringing the past to life in the present, this method of teaching attempts to make art history both accessible and welcoming as a field of study to our diverse student body. Moreover, I am especially committed to bringing into discussion the ways in which art styles, objects, and symbols drawn from pre-modern cultures have been re-appropriated in the modern world, at times even warped to malign ends. For example, medieval crusader imagery and Celtic crosses have both been deployed in the last century in contexts ranging from fantasy literature to white supremacist propaganda. While such discussions require a great deal of care in asking the students to engage with difficult topics, I have found that they have a profound impact for demonstrating the value of studying works of art in their proper historical contexts as well as the ongoing relevance of art history beyond the spaces of the classroom or the museum. Similarly, as a springboard for discussion of the famous Parthenon marbles and other recent cases of mounting public pressure on museums to repatriate stolen artefacts, I show a clip from the 2018 film Black Panther dealing with a fictional case of stolen works of art to demonstrate how these increasingly pressing issues concerning the ethics of museum collecting have seeped into our popular culture.
Above all, my priority as an instructor is to instill in students an inquisitive attitude to the material at hand and to encourage a love of learning. Thus, I seek to be as transparent as possible about my own passion for learning and more specifically my love of art.