Alexandria is extremely generous with her knowledge. She loves to teach and enjoys seeing others shine. She is always up on the latest trends but still knows and draws from the foundations of art and design. When she wants to learn something new, I am always surprised by how quickly and successfully she accomplishes that.
My personal approach to design stems from my desire to empower people and make a difference by crafting work that is both creative and engaging. As an educator, my goal is to inspire students not only through the attainment of skills and methods of design, but in becoming critical thinkers who solve problems strategically.
Research & Discovery
I believe exposing students to many different voices, methods, techniques, design examples and relevant historical context is an important part of their education. When students know the history of design, they feel invigorated by what’s possible, and know they can make their mark on the world.
As part of the beginning stages of a student’s process I assign projects that ask them to create their own content (based on a main idea or premise) utilizing thoughtful research rigorous analysis, and process sketchbooks en route to design solutions. This preliminary work in the design process enables them to successfully create self-initiated work.
Learning is an active process, and therefore, I do my best to immerse students in the concepts and ideas of design fundamentals through class discussion and peer critique.
Student growth occurs through reflection and critique. For that reason, I choose to approach my classroom as a collaborative expert—challenging students to frame their own opinions about their work, the work of their peers, and the work of professionals. I have found through my own experience as a designer and teacher that one can expedite their development when assessing what they need help with and start a dialogue in attaining feedback. I find easing into the practice of critique early in the class demonstrates the value each student’s voice possesses. During critique I utilize questions tactically: as a point of discussion, as non-dogmatic forms of feedback, and as a demonstration of the curiosity that I strive to cultivate in my students.
I consider it a privilege to teach all different types of students, whether they be the loud-confident types or the shy ones, the graphic design majors or non-majors, regardless of skin color, male, female, or non-binary. Sharing my voice and knowledge so that my experience can help guide them is crucial.
So far, I have worked in low-income predominantly Latinx communities working to improve underserved communities. Today only 7% of working graphic designers identify as Latinx/Chicanx/Hispanic, which is not representative of population demographics (Hispanics makeup 18% of the nation’s population). Comprehending the shifting status of “minorities” in America and how that effects the makeup of clients and collaborators, Latinx representation in design is increasingly important. Research shows Latinx students are more successful when enrolled with a critical mass of Latinx students taught by a diverse faculty. As a Latina, utilizing a culturally-responsive teaching approach, I understand their everyday concerns and have found great joy and fulfillment serving these students. I relate to their experience and feel it is my duty to go beyond teaching the fundamentals of design but to prepare them with the qualities necessary to be successful designers.
Design greatly influences the world we live in and so I encourage future designers to understand the powerful tools we possess in the art of visual communication. As a Latinx woman, it has been my personal mission to create design work for non-profits who help educate underserved communities. These values and passion inform my teaching methodologies. In preparing the next generation of designers it is imperative that I instill in my students the desire not only to create but to think so that they may do good in the world.
In closing, I seek to inspire my students through my work and ideas, and that in turn, their work and ideas will inspire me;
it is through those sparks of inspiration that turn tools and skills into creativity and ultimately, success.