The Teaching Artist, Part I | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co

The Teaching Artist, Part I

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Richard Whiteley leading a masterclass at North Lands Creative Glass in 2004.

TEACHING ARTIST. The title has a mildly incongruous ring to it. Like Galloping Gourmet or Flying Nun.

Art-making, at least in the small amount of it that I’ve personally experienced, requires reflection, solitude, lots of quiet time for thinking stuff through and sneaking up on reality from unexpected angles.

None of that seems to go hand-in-hand with lesson plans, faculty meetings, or connecting enthusiastically with a sea of blank stares.

That’s why I’m constantly in awe of artists who teach. I know a lot of them. The majority of artists we represent at Bullseye Gallery are teachers, some in full-time academic programs, others as leaders of short-courses, many as lecturers at educational conferences like BECon.

Of the many teaching artists I know, there are few who matched Richard Whiteley’s schedule this summer: teaching and presenting at BECon, teaching at Pilchuck, demonstrating as a resident at Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. (You’ll  need to click back from the current visiting artist to see Whiteley’s clip.) All of that while still heading up the glass workshop at the Canberra School of Art.

So, where in the year leading up to all this, did he find the time – and concentration – to make what is undeniably the finest work of his artistic career? If you haven’t seen the show that is up at Marx-Saunders Gallery in Chicago until the end of this month, at least check it out online. My personal favorite piece, Two Chambers, is possibly the most hauntingly anthropomorphic treatment of abstract sculptural glass I have ever experienced.

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It takes a lot of coffee to do work this good. And teach at the same time.

How exactly does an artist stretch the limits of his or her personality (to say nothing of any marriages involved) in order to cover the seemingly contradictory bases of art-making and teaching at the same time? I’m pretty clueless as to the answer.

But if art is – among so many other things – about connecting the irreconcilable elements of our existence, then maybe I do get it. And a Teaching Artist isn’t quite as weird as a Flying Nun.

6 Responses to The Teaching Artist, Part I

  1. Toni says:

    It’s nice to see Richard in the spotlight here, Lani. He is such a talented man, and very nice, too. He didn’t know me from Adam last year, but graciously answered some emailed questions after his GAS presentation at the resource center last year.

    Plus he’s cute and has an accent. Geez, I think I’ve said that before. :roll: :)

  2. What amazing work.

    And how awesome to be a teaching artist. Great post Lani!

  3. Second that–talked with him at BeCON about casting kiln configurations and what the software he’s developing will do–very smart guy.

  4. I make no secret of my disrespect for the funding,grants, prizes etc relating to the art/glass scene in Australia. I’ve heard numerous big names recite a list of prizes and grants that denote how good they are. I look at their work and think not yet. I see it as a community investment in their/our future.I don’t know if Richard sees his education as an investment but he has repaid that trust in a way to be proud.He works hard to produce continually greater work. He teaches,encourages and generally furthers the art form. I spoke to him for a short minute years ago, recieved an informative email reply to a question put to the anu glass dept., and we’re not likely to cross paths but I wish others in that elite could follow his example.
    Peter.

  5. I realize that I am late to the party (as usual) but, where are the pictures? I keep getting ‘not found’.

  6. Lani says:

    Hi Ellen,
    Sorry, I guess Richard was just moving so fast that he vaporized on the blog post. I’ve conjured him up again.

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