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Marianne Chénard

Part-time professor, Studio Arts


Marianne’s art practice articulates itself around a site-specific approach to installation art that attempts to illustrate the human perceptual relationship with nature while exhibiting attentiveness to the natural environment agency. It questions a notion of responsibility or entanglement, permanence or ephemerality, perception or realism, and is sensitive to the issues of climate change and the pursuit of global environmental sustainability. Her artwork is materialized through performance, video, earth art, sounds, and installations.

Originally from Rimouski Qc Canada, Marianne’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Québec, Canada, Usa and France. She has taken part in several artist residencies, and frequently offers specialized training in image transfer techniques on clay. She holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art Design in Vancouver and an MFA at The NY College of Ceramic at Alfred University NY, USA.

Teaching activities

teaching philosophy

Marianne Chénard | Teaching Philosophy

The goal of my teaching philosophy is to empower students to use art-making as a means to think critically about their surroundings. I aim to give my students the conceptual and technical tools to explore their own agency as it relates to broader concerns in the field and the world at large. Through my own cross-disciplinary approach to the material, I can help students develop individual material and visual language, while simultaneously creating space to expand curiosity, and to ask questions that challenge assumptions and envision new cultural expressions. By cultivating a practice that emphasizes the entanglement of theory, history, and material research, students in and outside my classroom are prepared to engage with the thoroughness of an increasingly diverse and indefinite art landscape. I believe this is central to the development of responsible artists, designers, critical thinkers, and humans in the world.

My approach to teaching is organized around the principle that each student has varying and individual skill sets, interests, and needs. In response to this, I foster an active learning space based on individual attention, while at the same time facilitating dynamic group exchanges and smaller break-off group works where students can learn, and problem solves with each other. From my perspective, to be a teacher is to be a mediator and a facilitator of knowledge and information. I accompany students through a journey that allows them to discover the possibilities of mediums and to direct their skills towards the development of a certain freedom of creation.

This freedom can be acquired through experimentation with the medium. As the facilitator, my task is to demonstrate technical skills, to encourage experimentation and to discuss the possibilities engendered by this learning, as well as to encourage students to develop a good studio ethic, based on the respect of individuals, equipment, and materials. My classroom is a space where students are both able to contribute to the larger dialogue and are expected to engage in inquiry and research as if they are contributing to the field from day one. The simple fact is that the field of art, design, and technology is perpetually evolving. My students need to be able to adapt, problem-solve, research, and integrate new technologies and ideas into their practice. To do this, students must have a comfortable, respectful, and non-threatening classroom, and learning climate. Therefore, I strive for a positive and welcoming environment in the classroom and studio, and continually explore a diversity of teaching approaches to accommodate students' varied learning styles to motivate them to connect with the subject of their research.

My experience as an artist involves testing the limitations of skills and my own understanding of the world; then constructing my experience from this pushing of boundaries. Within that process, artists encounter moments of failure and others of success. That is why I will encourage students to take risks, to learn from mistakes, to try to take advantage of the results, and to build from them. Thereby, I suggest approaches that give students space to practice and explore possibilities that allow them to build certain confidence in their skills and themselves.

I aim to help students to situate their work within the broader dialogue, identify their voice, and how they will be contributing to their field. I facilitate this learning through the viewing of artwork from various artistic currents, providing historical and contemporary context and discussions. First and foremost, I introduce artists and scholars who challenge the dominant culture writing of history and contribute to dissipating binaries. Sharing is an important value in my teaching method. I see group critiques as conversations in which students learn to develop critical thinking, constructive critiques, and share thoughts and struggles through the process to support one another towards greater results.

I encourage my students to exercise their comprehension outside of the class environment as well. This exercise allows relationships or connections to form between peers, the medium itself, the elements or tools involved in making, and everyday life. In other words, I support the development of an art practice that follows the principle of the contemporary scholar Shawn Wilson, that knowledge cannot be owned or discovered, but is merely a set of relationships that may be given a visible form. It is essential that my students’ efforts exist in the world outside of the classroom. I search for and develop projects, collaborations, and situations where students can exhibit and apply their work. I believe that experiential opportunities give students experience with problem-solving, project logistics, and planning. This contextualization gives them the chance to see that their work is not merely an assignment for assessment of institutional progress, but that their work can have important real-world implications. These experiences help students discover their potential, inspire the sense of urgency and importance of creative practice, and foster a mindset for lifelong learning and research.

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