As an artist, teacher, and individual I am fully committed to equality. From my upbringing as a child through my current professional exploration of the arts and academia, I have experienced living and working in many cultural settings. In all of my experiences I have valued diversity of ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds. In fact, it is our individual differences that inspire me to create such collaboratively based artwork.
When I reflect on my experiences with multiculturalism I immediately think about my family history. My mother, her siblings and parents were refugees during World War II. Accounts of them hiding in bunkers, traveling across oceans, and eventually becoming citizens of the United States have taught me to be sensitive to cultural differences and personal hardships. Additionally, my parents were members of the Peace Corp. and lived in Nigeria for six years. To this day, their home is decorated by reminders of their past including gifts from African friends with whom we keep in contact. Thus, from an early age I was immersed in the importance and appreciation of all cultures, races, and people. My pedagogical philosophy and artistic work has been greatly informed by these aspects of my upbringing.
As an artist and Co-Artistic Director of the group DOUBLE VISION I have been privileged to collaborate with hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds. One mission of the group is: to explore methods for integrating many diverse ideas and people into a cohesive whole through intermedia performance. DOUBLE VISION has explored these issues through many works such as the series Evolutionary Patterns and the Lonely Owl. In these events thirty artists from disciplines spanning dance, video, music, and installation perform together simultaneously. My role was to guide, but not dictate, the outcome of the collaboration. As a team member, I have learned to be a strong communicator and most importantly a listener. I take these skills into the classroom, lab and everywhere else I travel at all times. Ultimately, I believe openness, compassion, and communication are key elements to being a positive contributing member of society.
In 2009 I was awarded a Fulbright Award to live in Vienna, Austria. One of the goals of the Fulbright is to encourage cultural ambassadorship of the United States. While abroad, I strived to be a successful representative of our country. In further recognition of this, I was nominated and selected to serve as a peer reviewer for the Untied States Department of the State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. While in Europe, I fostered many relationships with peoples of both Eastern and Western Europe while lecturing and performing in Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. Being aware and appreciative of the cultural differences only enhanced my experiences as a teacher and artist. Currently, I am creating a new animation entitled Etwas Früher und Jetzt that was inspired by Viennese culture and takes into account the history of Austria, its people and my interactions within this context.
Throughout my life I have always been open minded and compassionate. These attributes of my character have come naturally and inform all aspects of my life, especially teaching. At Expression College for Digital Arts, where I currently teach, there is a diverse student demographic in terms of economic factors, race, gender, sexual orientation and nationality. Regardless of any such differences, I always value and promote individual expression and believe that it is within our combined differences that our strengths lie.