Continuing Education Blog
Damien Gilley, a lead-instructor in our Media Arts and Illustration program, is a Portland-based artist with an impressive record of exhibits and transforming environments. In fact, you might have walked “through” one of his current projects, Skywalker, if you have recently been at the Portland International Airport. Skywalker certainly electrified me when I came ambling down the carpeted hallway from the airport’s central hub into concourse A. Gilley’s work activated my experience of this space at the airport in surprising ways given the challenges this uncompromisingly transitional environment presents the installation artist (and others before him) with. Usually, this is quintessential airport non-space.
When preparing for our spring quarter, I inquired with Gilley about his now five-year-long teaching practice in our program.
With so many projects and engagements, what nourishes your passion for teaching?
Conversations with students are priceless. I love learning about all the professional paths my students have, and how they arrived at my class. Dialog is key in education, expanding both student and instructor knowledge continuously. Eventually I see students in creative contexts after the course and realize my network, and theirs, gets bigger in such an organic way through the classroom experience.
Participants in your classes say that they have built much strong skills illustration and desktop publishing, but that they are also come away with something they had not expected: a more acute sense of design and a stronger confidence in their creative abilities. How do you make this happen in your classes?
I really make sure that students are learning concrete skills that apply directly to creative production. But it’s so important to discuss all avenues these skills come into play, and how the design process is necessary. I try to make students confident to approach a creative problem and solve it from the ground up: research, conceptualization, execution and revision, revision, revision…
Have you noticed any changes over the past years in the needs and expectations of adult learners and professionals in your classes?
Many people realize the power of the tools we use and that the creative process can enhance their profession in dynamic ways, especially in such a media saturated visual culture. Design is everywhere. If you don’t engage in that critical creativity everyday you’re not really connecting with contemporary culture. So I make it a point to connect the course to real life applications, and the students appreciate that.
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