Office Hours: Jin-me Yoon: School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University

Office Hours: Jin-me Yoon: School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University

e-flux Education

June 27, 2022
Office Hours: Jin-me Yoon: School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University
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Office Hours: Jin-me Yoon: School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University

1. Why did you decide to go into teaching?
Teaching was something artists could do and an extension of who I was. It meant I could continue to be in an environment where learning is privileged and where I could keep learning. The School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) at Simon Fraser University (SFU) had a close relationship with a network of artist-run centers, and I liked belonging to that community. I also felt I had something to offer students in thinking through the terms of inclusion in a complex and intersectional way.

2. What drew you to your school and what is your teaching philosophy?
SCA is an interdisciplinary school comprised of visual art, music, dance, film, and theater programs, and I am a transdisciplinary thinker who is curious about all kinds of ideas in many disciplines, so we’re a good fit. Plus, SFU’s art program, while part of a university, is set up more like an art school with a very open program and a malleable space. We can change the walls, make huge installations, basically experiment in the studio. Every student has a studio space, so it never feels very institutional.

My teaching philosophy holds that learning is not institutionally bound; it happens on lots of different scales, not just through rationalized cognition but through other ways of interacting with each other. That’s why I love the studio—it’s art’s laboratory. It allows for both control and improvisation in an environment where students can move freely and interact with the studio’s architecture and the context of its site. What communities are we situated among? What are the politics of this place? What is the history here? The studio is not a Platonic space but rather a very perceptual and specifically located space. The teaching studio is a place to try on different registers of thought and affect and share openly without personalizing things—it’s not about you, it’s about the work—and practice different proximities and distances. The studio is such a special place.

So, in my teaching I nurture studio-based, embodied encounters among students and with materials. Assignments are a structure, a form for experimentation and play. At the same time, the studio is always coupled with the seminar­, the space of interacting with theory and ideas in a shared community. That’s a big part of my pedagogy. It gets to the possibility of honoring art and the multifarious ways that research and practice can take place.

Read more of Jin-me Yoon’s Office Hours on School Watch.

Office Hours is a questionnaire series that gathers insights on teaching from artists. In response to ten prompts, educators reflect on the discourses and approaches that animate their teaching, share their visions for the future of art education, and offer advice for students navigating the field of contemporary art.

School Watch presents critical perspectives on art and academia. Featured profiles, surveys, and dialogues consider education in fine art, curating, and critical theory, as well as the ideas and conditions that influence practice.

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