Alumni Teaching the Arts

The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, tucked into the heart of downtown Greenville, hosts a myriad of talented and well-trained faculty who are dedicated to mentoring high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, immersing them in the arts with classes on dance, music, visual arts, drama and creative writing. Students work closely with mentors, who pass down their own experiences and teach self-discipline, respect, time management, resilience, professionalism and empathy.

The Governor’s School highlights an amazing reciprocal relationship with Clemson. Many graduates of the school later become Clemson students, and there are more than a few Clemson alumni who serve as teachers and/or staff members. The Visual Arts Department, in particular, boasts a few faculty members who all have something in common: a master’s degree from Clemson.

 

 

Marty Epp-Carter M ’09
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in printmaking
Teaches printmaking, drawing and visual language

Why is learning about art and developing artistic skills important for students?

“When an artist makes a piece of art, they are expressing themselves by solving a problem. This requires communication skills, and communication requires a clear and agreed-upon language. Students are learning to express themselves, work independently, meet deadlines, hone eye-hand coordination skills, pay attention to nuance and honor the tiniest details. They also develop the discipline it takes to follow through, despite mistakes and challenges.”

 

 

Cary Perkins M ’04
Master of Architecture
Teaches architecture 

How did Clemson help prepare you for your current career?

“One of my Clemson professors once said that a design education prepares you for any career path — every industry is improved by rigorous problem-solving through creative thinking. That perspective has shaped my thinking in many ways and is something I strive to share with my students, along with teaching them to focus on visually communicating, self-editing and constantly questioning.”

 

 

David Gerhard M ’13
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in printmaking
Chair of the Visual Arts Department; teaches drawing, graphic design and art history and also teaches graphic design at Clemson

What do you hope students and other schools will learn from the Governor’s School?

“We are a resource for all students and teachers across South Carolina. The Governor’s School is a model for what can be done under ideal circumstances. Something I hope my students take away is how to balance doing so many things at once. I teach them time management, how to push through when you don’t feel like you’re being creative anymore, discipline and how to take criticism. I also make sure I am being very practical while still allowing students to have that joy of creative work.”

 

 

Joseph Thompson M ’98
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in sculpture
Teaches sculpture, drawing and 3D design

How has COVID-19 affected the way you teach?

“COVID-19 has shifted the emphasis of my teaching practice from providing students with lessons in materials, processes and poetics to partnering with them in the investigation of those things. Students have less access to equipment and facilities, but their connection to their work as their work has never been greater. Students are seeing themselves as partners in their own education, something that has always been a marker of our department but is now being emphasized more than ever.”

 

 

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