Chris Wills is an artist and educator who has returned to his home of Philadelphia, PA after living and working in the Bay Area.
He has a Jack Russell Terrier named OJ Mayo. She does not aspire to be a defamed shooting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Teaching is my way of fostering growth in both my students and myself through the experimentation and the questioning of the outside world. My practice and philosophy is devoted to transformation. I teach my students the skills to transform materials, images, and spaces, and also the skills to transform their world, their society, and most importantly themselves. I want my students to challenge existing environments and prescribed concepts. I want them to form their own opinions and state their beliefs. I aim to have my students consider the world in a different way using art as the tool and method to express who they are and bring awareness to their own way of seeing.
I approach art making as a process of working and thinking through materials. I create a laboratory of experimentation in the classroom, testing the boundaries and capabilities of the media we use and the processes we employ. My students engage with art through play and exploration which promotes divergent thinking, creative problem solving, and allows for a multitude of individual responses and answers. They become detectives, scientists, and explorers carefully investigating the ideas and objects set before them, making new discoveries not only about art but their thinking as well. Through personal encounters with objects and materials students develop their own conceptions of art and push the boundaries of what art is and can be.
I actively encourage my students to relate their artistic process and journey to other areas of their lives where similar growth is occurring. By making my teaching rooted in interdisciplinary study, students utilize multiple modalities of thinking and build new habits of mind that are holistic and reflexive. Through challenging prompts and assignments, students form a deep connection with the humanities. They evaluate how we have come to exist in our world by studying what has occurred before us, and what will occur after we are gone.
As an art educator I have the opportunity to not only teach technical skills and conceptual development, but also the dispositions of process-oriented working: perseverance, ambition, and self-control. My students know that the end result is merely a byproduct. The journey to creation and understanding is essential knowledge, and they learn to transfer this mindset to life beyond the art room. Through teaching, I encourage my students to critically assess their relationships with the people and places around them, making new discoveries and meaningful connections in learning.