Joseph Ayers: Lecturer at Parsons School of Design & artist, educator, curator

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Joseph Ayers is an artist, educator and curator living in Beacon, NY.  He completed his Masters of Fine Arts Degree at Hunter College City University of New York in 2007, and began exhibiting and teaching directly afterward.  In 2012 he began working on a curatorial team for Ethan Cohen Fine Art in NYC, and has since curated shows for The Bronx Museum, Maryland Institute College of Art, Jerome and Joan Cohen Art Center, as well as galleries in Beacon and NYC.  His teaching experience is very diverse, ranging from kids summer programs, to 4 Year College, and Community College level, foundations classes in 2D and 3D design, drawing, video and digital arts.  He is currently teaching first and second year students at Parsons the Newschool in the Art Media and Technology department where his focus is time-based and digital media.

Ayers grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and prior to his art education he spent 5 years in United States Air Force. Concerns for global ecology, economic and social inequality, and freedom of expression, are issues at the fore of his teaching and art making.  

What do you do best?

As an artist my work is very diverse, and I employ a variety of materials and approaches with the  images and objects I create.  With that said, as a educator I teach a wide range of courses to include video and digital media, as well as traditional drawing, painting and 3D Design.  Bridging the gap between traditional art making and new technology is my strong suite.

What makes you the best?

I feel my ability to use diversity as a tool in my work and teaching is something I do well.  As a teacher, being able to understand and connect with a diverse range of  student sensibilities,  encouraging group interaction and growth through classroom discussions, and offering insight and demonstrations with both hands-on, and technology based media, makes me a successful teacher and mentor.  I have a wide range of skills and experience, and this helps me to encourage and support students with different backgrounds and interests.

What are your aspirations?

In life I continue to work toward a balance between teaching and art.  As a teacher, my greatest aspiration is finding a place where I can focus my time and energy, and contribute my experience and knowledge to further develop the goals of the university.  As and artist I aspire to continue learning and making work, contributing ideas to the larger contemporary dialogue. 

Biggest Success?

I feel fortunate to have had a lot of success in life, with both professional and personal  achievements.  Perhaps my biggest successes stem from being able to support a family with my art and teaching career.  Additionally, helping young artists grow, encouraging them to follow their ideas, develop their skills, and find their voice, is something that has given me a lot of satisfaction in life.  I feel that having opportunities to give back to young students the kind of support that helped me to achieve my education and goals is my biggest success.

Most Challenging Moment?

I feel like our most challenging moments are when our intentions are compromised, or opposed.  This happens all the time in life.  Perhaps my most challenging moments have been when economic struggle has challenged my career goals, and in order to survive I had to take on too many things at once.  These obstacles have taught me what my priorities are in life, and have helped me become stronger and more focused.

Favorite Motto?

I often tell students that 'as artists we invent ourselves as many times as it takes.'  As many of my students are still developing their sensibilities, ideas and artistic voice, this simple phrase seems to resonate with them.  As for other artists, I have many favorite quotes! A great one that stays with me is from Leonardo Davinci: ' the greatest deception that men suffer is from their own opinions.'  This simple idea motivates me to continue pushing my work in new directions.

Favorite People?

This is to tough a question for me.  There are so many great thinkers, artists, philanthropists, healers, designers, etc.  As a teacher I champion the uneducated, and model myself after sincere educators.   

Favorite Places? 

Nature at all times of the day, places of learning and education, home with my wife and 5 year old daughter.

Favorite Products?

My favorite 'products' are usually ones that create a positive benefit for the consumer.  When a commodity leaves the consumer with very little to show for it, or in some way harms them, I tend to think its a bad product.  How to evaluate these things, for me, is a matter of health, ecology, community, and economics.  Manufacturers and designers should be sensitive to all of these areas, and understand that a bad product can have a negative impact on society over time.  I think the iPhone is revolutionary.  Though it is expensive, the connections and accessibility to resources it affords users is invaluable.   

Current Passions?

Teaching, refining my research in the area of time based media and art, and cultivating a healthy family.  My passion is to marry together life and art.