Q&A with Catherine Rosamond, EdD
SVA’s MA/MAT Art Education Department offers artists and designers multiple pathways to becoming art educators, whether in school systems or cultural organizations. For Dr. Catherine Rosamond, chair since 2018, the mission is to increase cultural awareness, technological literacy and accessibility across all sectors of education. We sat down with Dr. Rosamond to discuss her role in shaping pedagogy in contemporary times.
Tell us about how you got started in art education.
I didn’t know a field called art education existed for a long time. I studied communications and art history. Even though I was always drawing and making stuff growing up, I chose an academic path. I found art education somehow, and it had all the components I loved—reading, writing, making and teaching. I was teaching painting to future art teachers, which I enjoyed because it wasn’t just the skills of painting—it was more about the pedagogy of teaching.
What is your own art practice?
I’m interested in materials and materiality. For example, I love glass. I can draw ideas from glass, and it’s interesting to inquire into different materials and push the boundaries of what it can do. Ethnically I’m Japanese on my mother’s side, so I have a love for paper and wood.
What are some of the changes you have implemented at MA/MAT Art Education, particularly in regard to diversity, equity and inclusion?
I respect all the faculty and believe in drawing from everyone’s strengths and expertise. There are times when I question a syllabus with predominantly Western, white, male theorists. It’s not about taking something away but rather adding more perspectives, more artworks. It’s this and that. I would like to shape the department so that when our students graduate and go out into the world to teach, they have a much broader knowledge of theories and artwork. The students they are going to teach are very diverse, especially in NYC. I hope our alumni would want to work in the public school system, and that’s mostly Black and Brown students. I’m not preparing them if I’m teaching the same curriculum as the ’80s and ’90s.
You recently ran a workshop with the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. What were some of the concerns that you wished to address? What was the response like?
It was an event for teachers, and was very successful in engagement. Christopher Columbus exemplifies the colonization and suffering of the Indigenous people that he conquered and killed. MAD overlooks the statue at Columbus Circle, and I’ve always felt the problematic nature of the statue. I wanted to address the stories that we tell ourselves and the stories that we teach children that we know are untrue, and really start interrogating them. This year has been a time for introspection, and it’s important that teachers don’t just follow a textbook but bring in their own critical think- ing, more information, stories and narratives, and listen to marginalized voices as well. I also highlighted some of the Indigenous artists featured at MAD, to broaden teachers’ knowledge about contemporary artists that they may want to bring into the classroom.
How have the global events of 2020 impacted the educational community?
Of course, it’s been hard. It really has shed light on inequities in terms of access to technology in education. Children who live in housing projects have terrible access to the Internet. Single parents are working—who’s going to look after the kids? Yet a lot of private schools are doing great with small classes, PPE and access to technology. Public schools have poor ventilation, poor everything. We’ve learned that classrooms are too packed and about teacher fatigue. There are positive aspects to remote learning. Some students thrive in this situation. When you have the same squares—not the front and back of the room—there is “equity” in that way. There’s probably less bullying in schools. It’s important that we learn that there are good things about online education. It will probably stay to a certain extent. Although—no more snow days, which is too bad!