AMBER TUTWILER
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The classroom is more than a place for education: it is a space to share diverse ideas, challenge hegemonic systems, and write more inclusive narratives for our future. In my pedagogy, I use a three-tiered model to ensure that the both the classroom and the walls beyond are more equitable spaces for those who have been historically marginalized. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I believe that changes must be made on a personal, curricular, and institutional level.

From a microcosmic perspective, my actions cultivate trust and provide a safe space for students to be exactly who they are. I do not see myself as an authority but a conduit that encourages positive exchange between peers. I am aware that every student arrives with a different set of lived experiences and resources. By getting to know each student personally, I am better able to identify what kind of support they need – even if it means doing a little extra research on my end. The work is never over; there is always more to learn – both of myself and my students. 

It has been said that “the victor writes the history.” As such, every material, image, and process come with baggage. In my curriculum, formal instruction is contextualized by a critique of Eurocentric canons in order to interrogate art history and social structures. By including readings that examine these canons from a critical perspective, I arm students with the ability to make informed choices about their work while imagining more inclusive futures. It is essential that students are exposed to diverse artists and methods so that they understand that there is not one, singular approach to visual communication. Additionally, I believe in a flexible, “living” syllabus so that I can adapt assignments to fit student needs depending on their resources.

Institutionally, conscious decisions must be made together as faculty to create more equitable futures for those who are marginalized; this type of work cannot be done alone, and we must hold each other accountable. As a faculty member, I seek to enact curricular changes that promote diversity and inclusion while providing more resources directly for students. My goal is to target weak areas within the foundations, painting, and drawing curriculum and to recommend changes. Additionally, I seek to ensure that underprivileged students have access to scholarships and grants– not just for tuition, but for basic needs such as food and supplies. If there are not programs in place for these students, I hold myself personally responsible for securing their academic and professional futures. I will fight for them.

As a white, female artist, I understand my privileges. I recognize that I have never lost an opportunity because of my skin color or beliefs. However, I am also a first-generation college graduate from a low-income family that struggled with addiction. From a deeply personal place, my experiences have instilled a sense of empathy and responsibility to support those who have been traditionally undervalued. I believe that lasting change is only possible when there is equity among minority communities. By providing opportunities for students in and outside of the classroom, those who are marginalized can be meaningfully supported. These actions, when combined, create lasting changes that positively impact the community and our relationships to difference at large.