Department Dossier: Rose Viggiano

February 12, 2010

The second in a series of one-on-one conversations with SVA’s department chairs.

Rose Viggiano chairs the MAT Art Education Department, which is built around the hands-on experience of teaching in New York City’s public schools and SVA’s community-based programs. It’s how students in the department learn course development, classroom management and educational theory. Viggiano, who recently became co-president of the University Council for Art Education, talked to the Briefs as the department was in the process of surveying graduates about the impact of their studies at SVA for a study that will be presented at the National Art Education Association convention in April.

What makes your department unique?
The first thing is that the students are artists–and that’s the most important thing, because that’s where their inspiration comes from. When they get here, we teach them pedagogy. How do you take everything you love and translate that into lesson plans, and communicate with children?

One of the public programs the department offers is Art for Kids, weekly art classes for children in grades kindergarten through 9. How is that going?
They come on Saturday and Sunday now because it’s so popular! And a person who had gone through Art for Kids was accepted to go to SVA, which has always been our dream—that you would get turned on to art and then continue to study it.

What does this kind of experience mean for your students?
Schools are part of the community, and teachers are in service to the community. If we can expose our students to Art for Kids, to the Liberty Partnerships Program, or to a class we have in a shelter, they really become a part of that community, and begin to see the impact of art on that community. They also get to see the different kinds of environments they would feel best about teaching in.

Your incoming students include successful designers, photographers and fine artists. Why do they decide to teach?
They want to give back, and they’re coming from jobs where they don’t feel they’re giving back, or it’s not rewarding enough. People who teach are people who like to give back. They love their subject and want to pass it on. It’s a rite of passage.

What impresses you most about your students?
How hard they work, and their transformation. I’m very impressed by how open they are to allowing this change to occur, because that’s the most important thing. If they’re open and flexible, and love making art, then you have the makings of a really good teacher.

What do you like most about chairing the department?

My students’ absolute love of art, and children. There’s nothing more exciting than to watch someone’s creative process unfold. I think what makes art teachers art teachers is shared enjoyment, just watching that spark.

Image: Photo of Rose Viggiano

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