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The Apprentice Model for Teaching Art

Fred Hagstrom on Studio Art Research and Teaching

We spoke on applying the apprenticeship model to Carleton teaching. We feel that (in some disciplines) students have little contact with faculty research. Many of us rush to do our own work during break periods, and then don't make a direct connection between that work and our teaching. Students can come to see us as teachers, rather than as practitioners. We discussed a variety of ways that we hope to deepen the connection between our work and our teaching, both during the school year as well as over summer. Some of this would depend upon funding. We admire the model that has served the sciences so well at Carleton. We would like to move in that direction ourselves, and we also think that this could apply to other departments across the College.

Steven Mohring on the Apprenticeship Model

The practice of artmaking in the studio - I think this is true for all studio disciplines, but here hopefully made clear by the work sculpture and woodworking students -- is tightly liked to a material dexterity not at all unlike the trades we are familiar with - sculpture engages carpentry skills, welding skills, often electrical, sometimes plumbing.

Here are some examples of the work from our students. As an introduction let me make clear that in my class, materials are open once skill acquisition has begun (as students begin to learn about steel they can use it) but they are not forced to use any specific material. As a result, as you can see, in sculpture and woodworking a large number of materials and skills are used.

Many teachers, have had the benefit of active interaction with a graduate advisor working on a research problem along with them. We were wondering if there may be a way to merge the essence of that educational system with the trade apprentice system and make it work for artistic investigations in the studio class.

I started to learn how to build things in school but I only gained control of my media from my education in the trades. In that way my dexterity with materials was often disengaged from my formal artistic training.

But we believe it would be wonderful to have the time with and attention from an instructor who is given the time to be working on the same artistic problems along with the students, so the students can witness the problem solving on the fly in the teachers work, as well as the teacher problem solving for the students in the class.