Updated: Nov 2, 2020
Pronouns: Him/His Number of years in career: 7
Astrological sign: Taurus
Where are your family roots from? Everywhere, but the heritage I most strongly I identify with is from my Mother's side of the family. My grandfather on mom's side came straight from Scotland, and spoke nothing but Scots Gaelic when he got to America. Her mother was Scottish as well, but grew up in Maryland and St. Petersburg. I have spent the majority of my life in the Gainesville area.
How have your parents/guardians/teachers/mentors influenced you? My mother is the most kind and giving human I know. She taught me to be compassionate and loving. My father was a fantastic non-example, and was good at helping me exercise empathy and understanding of another's perspective. I've learned to love completely and openly, and that I always need to be cognizant of the fact that others have pain and experiences from which they approach life that I can never truly understand or may not ever know, but that they deserve love and compassion.
Can you remember one childhood memory of happiness and one of fear? Happiness: Spending time at my summer camp near Live Oak, FL. It is truly a place set apart from the world, and any time I'm there I feel close to God and nature. Fear: Basically every day I had to attend school. It's a major reason I'm an educator. I needed to be a teacher, and to make school a safer and better place for others. I made the determination in the first grade.
Is there something in your life that you feel very passionate about? EVERYTHING! I am extremely passionate about people, animals, nature, God, love, art, beauty, magnolias, copper, soft cloth, sewing, paper, shoes, weird objects and oddities, age, weather, wind, the sun, water, creating, teaching, being present... If I feel anything for anything, I feel all the feels for that thing, and that includes most everything. It's a beautiful and confusing world. I love it.
If you could be any animal, what animal would you be? Why? Dog. Hands down. All they want to do is love and feel joy, and eat, and sleep, and soak in the sun, and provide comfort & healing, and they are the most magical creatures to me.
What is it about being a/an_________________that keeps you satisfied in your career? The fact that I can create. I can make connections. I can encourage. I can show students they are capable of so much more than they'd thought possible. I can help them heal. I can give them access to processes that open up doors to their own hearts and ways of becoming more and more whole. I can be silly. I can be serious. I can tell my students they are amazing and beautiful and loved. I can create a tight-knit family in each class that extends beyond the classroom and builds lifelong connections.
What is your creative process? And major influencers? I am all over the map. I create jewelry, ceramics, photography, paintings, and drawings. I love experimental processes and materials. I am deeply influenced by the Dada movement and use art as a means of creating avenues of healing. I don't feel unfocused, yet I may appear to be. I am experimental to the point of being open to a bit of everything. I love discovery and play, and am fond of finding new ways to create and express myself on a continual basis. My two main areas of focus these days are jewelry and painting.
Can you tell us something you just learned that intrigued you? I have been studying Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for about two years. There are a thousand different revelations I've had through the course of this learning, and no single issue stands out. I feel like learning to see yourself more clearly as a means of understanding others and that we all come from different perspectives and lived experiences has been very revealing. Knowing that you don't know what you don't know, and becoming more aware and open to others has been a beautiful thing.
What is something people often get wrong about you? I am an extreme extrovert. I am also a very loud person, in every sense of the word. Often I can come across much larger and stronger than I ever intended, and can seem a little scary. I literally catch bugs who are in my house or trapped on my screen porch and gently help them to freedom. I guess I can come across as a raging bull in a china shop, but I feel like I'm the lazy house cat who's quietly snoozing in the corner.
What are you listening to these days? The Ink Spot, Indigo Girls, Mozart, Cake, Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Eisley, The Carpenters, The Shaggs, Tracy Chapman, Enya, The Cure, Air Supply, Nat King Cole, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Ben Folds, Nina Simone, Tom Brosseau, India Arie, Sade, ABBA, Paul Simon, Engelbert Humperdinck, Vertical Horizon, Violent Femmes, The Cranberries, Soul II Soul, Edith Piaf, Ani DiFranco, Sergio Mendez & Brasil 66, Regina Spektor, The B-52's, Nickel Creek, Folk Uke, Eurythmics, Bee Gees, They Might Be Giants, James Taylor, Sia, Depeche Mode
What’s the best and worst decision you ever made? Best: being an educator. Worst: in 1st grade, I gave two silk roses to a girl in my class. Another girl in the class was crushed that she didn't receive one. I asked the original girl for one of them back to give to the other girl. They both hated me after that. This scenario pretty much sums up my lifelong experience with romance.
Can you narrate your proudest moment? I don't know that there is one distinguishable moment. Any time my students meet with success and feel good about themselves is my proudest moment. Helping a student who hated art and tried desperately to get out of my class fall in love with art and move on to art school is one. Students finally believing in themselves and getting 5's on their AP portfolios is one. Being at the side of a student's family last year as he had open heart surgery, and then being his teacher in his home and helping him heal is one. They are all good days, if you find the good in each of them.
What do you find ridiculous about life? Everything. It's all ridiculous, and it's all wonderful. Everything is fodder for joy.
Can you share a topic that causes your blood to boil & how you deal with the frustration? Feeling that the field of visual arts education is not valued and discounted. I just plug ahead and find ways to connect with fellow educators. I find ways to help my students see the connections between art and math, science, engineering, language, and social sciences. Just doing what I can to promote the brilliance of my students and the usefulness of the arts. Also, voice-to-text. Very frustrating.
If you could take a peek in your future (say 10 years from now), what would it look like? I hope to be teaching. I hope to be creating. I hope to remain open. I hope to be continually growing. I hope to be a father. I hope to have dogs. I hope to be continuing to build understanding of my field and promoting it's value. I guess I just hope to still be doing what I'm doing, but maybe better?
Bonus: What’s one thing you are deeply grateful for right now? There's too much. Life, I guess.
*all photos are from Brian's Instagram and Facebook pages