Distinguished Teaching of Art Award
The Distinguished Teaching of Art Award, established in 1972, is presented to an individual who has been actively engaged in teaching art for most of his or her career. This award is presented to an artist of distinction who has developed a philosophy or technique of instruction based on his or her experience as an artist; has encouraged his or her students to develop their own individual abilities; and/or has made some contribution to the body of knowledge loosely called theory and understood as embracing technical, material, aesthetic, and perceptual issues.
Buzz Spector has influenced students at the important institutions where he has worked since 1978, including Washington University in Saint Louis, Cornell University, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His guidance goes beyond those he has directly taught, as his writings, artworks, installations, and conceptual theories have challenged artists everywhere. Spector has examined our body of knowledge, its means of dissemination through the trusted authority of the published book, and the ephemeral act of reading. His students and colleagues spoke of his engagement as a teacher, how he conveys a flow of energy, information, and concepts to them, describing him as “profound,” “inspiring,” and “a strong advocate” who is “personally committed to his students.” His personal style is “extremely astute, honest, and humorous in his approach” with “insightful, encouraging critique.” Spector can “begin a discussion with an essential question and then spend the hours it takes to tease out literary and scientific references, contemporary art themes, and personal poignancies.” Most of all, he “imparts knowledge as a way to expand how one thinks about one’s own possibility and potential.”
The first five winners of the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award—Josef Albers, Tony Smith, Philip Guston, Jack Tworkov, and Grace Hartigan—are all major figures from the American modernist canon. Demonstrating effectively that the teaching and practice of art is often inseparable, each professor has influenced thousands of art students over the years, in mediums ranging from sculpture (Lester Van Winkle), painting (Wayne Thiebaud, Mercedes Matter), and printmaking (Robert Blackburn) to photography (Jerry N. Uelsmann), new media (Margaret Lovejoy), and interdisciplinary practices (Hans Haacke, Vernon Fisher).
Read a list of all winners of the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from 1973 to the present.
CAA has begun accepting nominations for the 2014 Distinguished Teaching of Art Award.