Jean teaches visual art at The Evergreen State College, using the history, materials, and techniques of fine metalworking as a means of expanding artistic choices through the unusual patience, skill, and persistence that this work demands. Students learn about object-making and mixed media, design process, craftsmanship, and how to visually express their ideas.
As a teacher at Evergreen, Jean has been able to link the study of fine metalworking with the humanities. Students sign up for full-time interdisciplinary programs; classes are generally team-taught; and the curriculum balances theory with practice. Her undergraduate studio art programs teach liberal arts students to develop their imaginations and critical skills as both makers and viewers of art.
Working Small (Fall and Winter Quarter, 2009-10) is a full-time upper division program for students interested in the particular demands of making small-scale art in metalsmithing, jewelrymaking, and mixed-media sculpture. Working primarily in the fine metals studio, the students combine intensive studio work and critique with readings in contemporary art, writing assignments, and seminar discussion. Fall readings include: Amato’s Dust, the catalog for the exhibition At the Threshold of the Visible; Miniscule and Small Scale Art 1964 –1996, The Poetics of Space by Bachelard, and Turkle’s Evocative Objects.
Art and Religious Practice (2007-08) was a full-time freshman program that combined studies in fine metalworking, printmaking, religion, and visual culture. Team-taught with a printmaker, we examined both art and craft in the way they have historically been used to serve religion in capturing the fleeting moments of ritual. How could we better understand religion by examining, and making, images and objects that reflect these rituals? How has visual art encouraged spiritual experience and religious practice?
Weird and Wondrous (2002-03) was a full-time freshman program that integrated studies in literature, studio art, and other disciplines to explore the experience and implications of encountering the unfamiliar — that which exists outside conventional structures and crosses boundaries. As one student wrote in her self-evaluation, “Confronting the strange, experiencing the heart-palpitating combination of fear and awe that is wonder, is the beginning of learning. Wonder exists at the center of passion, at the heart of a scientist’s search for answers, an artist’s vision of expanded consciousness.”
I am interested in the visual, psychological, and cultural meaning of play and games. My current work is about overcoming distraction, enduring interruption, and sustaining serious play. I start with a steel frame that creates a structure to hold and organize the parts: moving tin louvers, pierced cut-outs, bristly twisted wires, and elegant enamel panels. Taken together, these visual elements are expressions of the tensions that hold, release, and renew even familiar connections.