My pedagological approach mirrors that of Robert Grudin in which he states, “true teachers not only impart knowledge and method but awaken the love of learning by virtue of their own reflected love." As an Associate Professor of Art in the interdisciplinary Honors College at the University of New Mexico, I aspire to awaken a love of learning by fostering an interdisiplinary classroom environment that weaves together fields such as art, philosophy, material culture studies, and women's studies. I urge students to creatively question the world around them—visually, conceptually, and politically—and inspire them to depart my classes with the ability to self-transform.
OVERVIEW OF COURSES DEVELOPED AND TAUGHT AT UNM
This writing intensive course explores the legacy of the “good life” and the role that material culture plays within its pursuit. Looking at sources such as Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Ruskin’s Unto This Last, Marx and Engel’s Marx-Engles Reader, de Botton’s Status Anxiety, Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Leonard’s Story of Our Stuff and Hume’s Garbology students explore changing notions of the “good life” from ancient times to present day. Students study the changes in our philosophies and relationship with material goods and evaluate the role they play in contemporary culture through economic, environmental, aesthetic lenses. Through oral presentations, students explore the similarities and differences in which theorists and contemporary artists explore material culture.
UHON 207.003 Fine Art as Global Perspective: Art as Scale
Art as Scale explores ancient art, earthworks, installation art and conceptual art. The course is centered on the idea that a transformational understanding of the human experience is at its heart a creative endeavor. To truly grasp our place in the universe we need to deeply experience scale. The students visited the art piece, Star Axis and were able to get a personal tour with the artist, Charles Ross. Further, we took a field trip to see installation based and immersive environments in Santa Fe—Meow Wolf, CCA, and Site Santa Fe. Throughout the course, students developed a vocabulary with which to discuss art and interweave the relationship between art and culture.
Social Transformation through Art investigates the historical and contemporary usages of art as a social tool. We explore a range of historic and contemporary texts and artists (JR, Marina Abramovic, Yolanda Dominguez, Candy Chang) whose methodologies, materials and approach challenged cultural norms. Students created several creative projects—photographic, performance and public works. I have been able to arrange for artists, such as Naomi Natale, Justin Plakas, and Rachel Debuque, to visit the class, present their work, and create work with the students.
UHON 301 LOCKED UP: INCARCERATION IN QUESTION
I co-developed and team-taught this course, with Marygold Walsh-Dilley, which explores the historic roots and contemporary practices of incarceration through the lenses of sociology and art. A range of projects were created to integrate these disciplines and to evaluate mass incarceration, the civil rights issue of our generation, in new and profound ways. Additionally, a great deal of effort was put into galvanizing support to bring in speakers to work with honors college students and to speak to the larger UNM community such as Richard Ross and Jimmy Santiago Baca. Richard Ross’ work explores the efficacy and ethics of the treatment of American juveniles in detention centers. His books, Juvenile In Justice and Girls In Justice, explore the intersection of photography and sociological research proving to be not only a powerful “catalyst for change”, but an integral primary source that served as a model of interdisciplinary for students.
*This project merged sociology and art by which students gathered data from academic journals, culled it, and ultimately created an infographic utilizing aesthetic considerations of design such as hierarchy, proximity, unity, color, typography. A thesis statement was forged from the data which in turn was visually represented.
UHON 402 Locked Up: Incarceration in Question, Part II: Service Learning
I co-developed and team-taught the second part of the yearlong course, Locked Up: Incarceration in Question II. This course focused on service learning as means for students to extend the academic work they did in the fall though experiential, community engaged efforts. Students took part in service-learning projects to assist at-risk youth in partnership with Outcomes, Inc. and Desert Hills. Outcomes Inc. is a New Mexico based non-profit organization that provides professional guidance and support to individuals and families. The Conflict Resolution Division assists juveniles who are in the justice system as a result of violence and/or conflict. Honors students created curricula and taught students in the Alternative to Violence Program. Desert Hills is a residential treatment center that provides behavioral and mental health care for children, adolescents and their families.
*Student art work which reflected on what students learned during their service learning project and from the inquiry into incarceration as a whole.
UHON 301: GLOBAL ART
This course explores the aesthetic experiences of cultures around the world where art and life are inseparable. The course is rooted in a branch of philosophical study—aesthetics— which applies a critical lens to the relationship of art, culture and nature. We read seminal philosophical texts which investigated the similarities and differences of art between cultures.
*Student creative projects based on Sei Shōnagon's, The Pillow Book
Chair of Rana Chan's Honors college creative thesis: Breaking Gender Norms through Fashion: Lessons from Georgia O’Keeffe
Rana Chan forged a relationship with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Girls Inc. of Santa Fe to create a series of multi-generational workshops as part of her honors thesis. Upon meeting with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Ms. Chan, recognized that the institution sought to connect younger museum patrons to the life and work of Georgia O’Keeffe. Ms. Chan orchestrated a partnership with the Girls Inc. of Santa Fe, an organization geared towards the empowerment of girls, with programming that focuses on making girls “strong, smart and bold” through healthy living, academic enrichment and life skills. In collaboration with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Girls Inc., Ms. Chan devised six weeks of programming for a group of 11-13 year old girls to learn about the life of Georgia O’Keeffe. In particular, the workshops utilized O’Keeffe’s fashion choices as a reflection of her individuality, practicality, and aesthetic expression, which served as a springboard for the girls’ creations. Over the course of the workshops, the girls were given a tour of O’Keeffe’s clothing vault, selected fabrics, and constructed their own garments. In many ways, this project relied on the generosity of community that Rana Chan cultivated. A cohort of experienced female sewers from Santa Fe served as mentors for the girls in the program. During the progress of designing and learning to sew their garments, the girls forged relationships with their mentors, were empowered by learning something new, developed troubleshooting skills, and fell in love the act of creating something on their own. During the final workshop, students presented their garments to their community and project stakeholders, to high praise. Rana Chan’s thesis project expanded beyond a mere “project” and became a tool of transformation advocacy—a means to improve her community and advance the lives of others.
Selected Student Evaluation Comments:
- “Professor Jacobs has been the best professor I have had in my college career. She is passionate, engaging, and vibrant. During this course, Ms. Jacobs had the class participate in three major art project. All of these projects forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and in in the process of this I have grown a lot as an individual. All of the readings she assigns are interesting and relevant. I have learned, grown, and had a fun semester because of this course. I will be forever grateful that I was able to work with Ms. Jacobs.”
- “Her passion for the class makes learning so much more fun. She is incredibly insightful and engaging.”
- “This course has been one of my favorite Honors courses. Professor Jacobs has a unique approach and has been successful in the diverse integration of topics. She is encouraging and supportive and also very respectful.”
- “The immersion into the subject and being able to critically read about instances of social transformation through art as well as participating in it was amazing. Megan Jacobs is also an amazing teacher who knows how to concisely educate students on the subject while drawing interest into becoming an active member of the subject.”
- “I cannot stress how much the professor was passionate about this course. You could tell she loves teaching it, which is great. She really believes art is magical and great, which is really translated to the students.”
- “The strengths of this course are the quality of content and amount of ambition and productiveness of the projects. I have never had a class that has created so much meaning and tangible products in my life. It is truly a unique course that definitely walks the walk.”
- “This class has been phenomenal. It is an in-depth look at one of the most pressing concerns in today's world; mass incarceration. The instructors both worked extremely hard to make sure material was accessible to everyone in the classroom, while emphasizing values of social justice and recognition of privilege...Megan did a wonderful job selecting artists as examples for the class. I greatly appreciated the diversity in representation and art styles. Both Marygold and Megan are incredibly passionate about their fields, which makes them fun to learn from. They also clearly enjoy learning about other disciplines, both from students and from their fellow instructor.”
- “Megan fosters a comfortable environment in class. I think that most of the readings were immensely insightful and thought provoking. The coolest and most relevant class activities around. The field trip was totally awesome.”
- “The readings were amazing! I learned so much! I need a book list for the rest of my life”