Voices: Pitzer Faculty Reimagining the Virtual Classroom
Professor Krajnak is teaching two sections of a new course entitled Eco-Photography this coming semester. Tarrah’s student-centered approach to teaching and her enthusiasm for student work is unparalleled. In this course, students will make photographs/anthotypes at home using unconventional materials.
Co-Creating: new approaches
“I think it’s important to challenge students and to give them difficult readings and difficult questions…I’m considering all of us, a group of artists, researchers…we’re going to be thinking about how do we use food waste to make photographs? How do we use just the sun, contact printing, recycled materials, fermentation and kind of building on this idea of a slow art and also people-plant interactions.
“And I think in this moment…we need joy. We need beauty right now. And so thinking about that…I want my students to take pleasure in the making side of this course, you know, because we’re also dealing with these really heavy issues on the theoretical side.”
“Like this is the new normal. So we really have to grow and be able to adjust what we do and…to shift and shape it to this moment. That’s something that I think all of us are already involved in doing, we’re always kind of like rethinking our courses, reshaping them, trying to make them more relevant to our students And that’s why I can’t wait until the students are back because it’s not work we do alone.”
You know, I…okay, I really miss my students, I have to say that. And I would say that the relationships are different online; they are. And I’m not going to pretend that they are not. The challenge for me is to bring back the same magic that happens in a darkroom, in a studio situation where a lot of it has to do with being a body and being next to other bodies. But I think that, you know, we’re all going to try together. I’m considering all of us a group of like, artist-researchers, and we’re going to be thinking about what is it to be in this body in this moment and to be negotiating the body through a screen. But also, what is it to be in the space that you’re in, in the environment that you’re in? Where are you in space and time, how do we use food waste to make photographs? How do we use just the sun? Contact printing, recycled materials, fermentation? And the question is, is no waste-photography possible? I don’t know if it’s possible. I mean, this is a question that is a true research question. And what’s exciting about this course is that it’s an open syllabi. I want to develop this first iteration of it with the students who are in my course in the fall.
And I think in this moment, though, listen, we need joy, we need beauty right now. I want my students to take pleasure in the making side of this course you know, because we’re also dealing with these really heavy issues on the theoretical side. Let’s have some joy. Let’s center that in our making, and then later we’ll talk about the meaning, the concepts, how it relates to this cultural moment. This moment; it’s not a going back to normal. We don’t know what the new normal will look like, this is the new normal. So we really have to grow and be able to adjust what we do and to identify what we do and then kind of try to shift and shape it to this moment. And that’s something that I think all of us are already. a lot of us. involved in doing. We are always kind of like, rethinking our courses, reshaping them, trying to make them more (I hate to use this word, but) relevant to our students in the moment. The faculty and I can’t wait till the students are back because it’s not work we do alone.