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I aspire to be a respected role model to my students, to demonstrate genuine passion for the creative-process, and to intentionally use creativity in every facet of my own life.  I strive to be an empathetic mentor who provides an inclusive environment, free from fear and inhibition.  I, too seek meaning through the creation of art.  I firmly believe that students are to be valued for their uniqueness, first and foremost.  The climate established in my teaching studio is one of mutual respect.


Nearly every facet of aesthetic influence that shapes society is forged by the innovation of artists.  Best-selling author Daniel Pink’s book entitled, “A Whole New Mind” has helped convey this vital message (and provide practical reasoning) to a broad audience.  Pink’s book describes how we live in an age where manufacturing is largely sent overseas, and that any thing that can be streamlined by computerization will be.  Pink reveals a growing trend of big business rediscovering the conceptual value of artists; that creatives embrace the abstract, and are clearly vital to a strong economy built upon innovation.  The artist-as-innovator has always been at the heart of my teaching!


An important historical figure in art, Harold Speed, describes the science of picture making as the organization of tone, proportion and color…content explored in depth only when the latter principles are mastered.  Speed writes, “The mind cannot concentrate on several things at once.  And in planning a course of study it is necessary to divide the subject so that the mind may be concentrated on the difficulties to be overcome, singly.”  Speed’s model is similar to learning the basic chords of a guitar before composing original-music.  I neither steer minor-masterpieces, nor enable “caffeine-free” versions of my work.  I believe a student’s genuine creative voice develops when a strong personal basis of understanding is well established.


A common analogy I use in my teaching studio is to, “play chess, not checkers!” I challenge students to explore the totality of a work of art they admire -or- do not admire before making a decisive “move” of judgment; to look beyond the formal appearance of the work and to understand the larger historical, cultural context by which the artist created the work…to build empathy!  I wish to help each understand that their context, their unique design has tremendous value, and limitless potential for purposeful creation.  I wish to help students develop artistic voices naturally, gradually and intelligently!


Not every student will pursue art as a vocation, nor seek a high level of technical proficiency.  But I have witnessed lives deeply enriched, some completely transformed, by the act of creation.  Their purpose is my purpose.              

                                                                                                                                                                -Jim DeCesare



Teaching Statement

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