June 18 Graduation marked another project completed in the ongoing project that is my teaching at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). We work on the quarter system, so I have the equivalent of four incremental projects, which are broken into (usually) 10 weekly projects, which are my classes. So this marked the end of an academic year. Officially, I think it is 14.5 years of doing this–14 academic years, and part of one. [Getting through projects so relates to my other job–being a knitwear designer!]
The quarter system means everything goes by fairly quickly. That is both the good and the bad. The pace models nicely for the work ahead of students in the fashion industry, or wherever they end up, but it is pretty grueling for them as they are going through it. There is a lot of learning and teaching that has to go into those 10 week quarters. One of the classes I teach didn’t even exist until 2009. The other class was a two quarter class, which in 2000 was mostly a research paper. FIDM and the fashion industry have fully adopted technology since my first quarters, and the two classes I currently teach are as much visual presentation as they are research. Students create projects and portfolios using Photoshop & Illustrator. While at FIDM they learn how to research, but also how to draw technical flats, create layouts and visually communicative pages, all supported by technical design (another class). I teach them many things, but I think one of the most important is just how to get a project completed!
Everyone works differently, but the end goal is the same: get those projects completed on time. I teach my classes in their last quarters (optimally the last two, but sometimes it takes longer). Students may be in their first years of college after high school, or may be returning as professional designation students if they have a degree from elsewhere. Regardless, anyone can tell you this is all hard work, requiring long hours and a quick and steep learning curve. Everyone who makes it through deserves kudos. As in real life, we don’t always soar as high as we want, but soar we do. This photo perfectly reflects the awesome imagination of this student.
Project Completed 2014/2015
An interesting thing has happened over the 14.5 years I’ve been doing this: I keep getting older, but students are relatively the same age. This means the gap between us in years has become more significant and as I thought about this I wondered if I might seem like kind of a “crazy older aunt” figure to them. This age gap has meant that I have to really stay on my game to remain relevant to them. I need to be relevant because it is incredibly important that they hear what I have to impart to them. Many of the lessons in my classes involve both course learning and life lessons. I cannot say which are more important. I teach on Wednesdays only, and I can tell you that I am almost never more exhausted than I am after a day of teaching!
Every year I engage with students who enrich me and I love the time I spend with them. Everyone: I am proud of the work you did. Keep growing. Thanks for voting me Outstanding Faculty, and I’ll see you online. I, like most women, love shoes. Knowing I have to sit onstage, above or at eye level to graduates, I always try to wear excellent shoes (within the narrow confines of what I can wear). Perhaps this is the key to assuring that I continue to win those apples. This was the number 12 apple for me–11 for Product Development, and 1 for Fashion Design. They sit on a windowsill in my studio/office and I’ve very proud of them.