The printmaking courses here at Parsons are among some of the best classes I have ever taken with that in mind, I would certainly urge any prospective and current students to take at least one elective during your time here! I had my first class last semester when I took Intro to Printmaking with Paul Marcus, since then I’ve been hooked. The printmaking facilities here at Parsons are really great which all for screen printing, etching, lithography, digital printing processes and much more! This semester I’ve had the pleasure of taking Fashion Screenprinting with Marie Dormuth and Mixed Media Printmaking with Michael Kirk.
Mixed Media allows students to do just that, experiment with more than one way of printmaking from monoprints to transfers– you name it. The freedom allowed in the class is awesome, mostly in part to Michael who really encourages us as students to think outside of the box and explore many different possibilities! I caught up with Michael a couple of weeks ago before his trip to Oslo, Norway where he has been invited to work with students at the National Academy of Art on a collective mural piece. Here he sheds some insight on his own teaching, and shares some of his work as well!
LD: What are you up to when you’re not teaching at Parsons?
MK: I make work, I travel.
LD: What do you like most about teaching? Do you have a teaching philosophy?
MK: I like Learning from my students. I don’t like being the teacher in front of the class. I like sharing what I know and understanding who my students are. I like finding out who they are, not on a personal or intimate level but I like to find out what they are about and I like them to make things for themselves and not for me. Finding out what their interests are and not what I’m interested in becomes interesting for them, to see how that exchange can produce work. Finding out who my classes are and shaping my class around who I meet is important to me.
I have no set formula, I like teaching in the moment. Because of my experience I don’t have to keep to a set thing. If I did, I would be bored. Every time I teach its something new. Based on things I’ve learned and understood but I try not to teach the same thing. I don’t like to grade my students and have them only feel rewarded if they succeed. I don’t want them to make products, I don’t want to know the answer. I want to find out what they’ve come up with. I like community, I like sharing things with people.
LD: Do you have a favorite class you like to teach?
MK: I like them all. I’m in love with print. There isn’t one I favor over the other. Some of my favorite classes have been when I’ve worked with a collective of people where we’ve made a huge collective piece. And that’s really scary because you really don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve liked doing that alot. I also feel privileged. I’ve seen a lot of poverty in the places I’ve gone. I hate seeing things wasted. I’m a collecter, I pick up anything that’s left behind and extend it to those who don’t have anything.
LD: Can you tell me about the mural project you’re going to be working on in Oslo?
MK: I’ve been to Norway twice and I was invited by a friend of mine who teaches at the National Academy of Art, the top art school there to make a huge mural size print. I was the second American to ever show at the Norske Grafikere which was founded by Munch. That’s when I met the two printers I am going to be working with. I’m going to be working with 20 people and being that it’s a collective project they want me to get rid of everyone’s egos and have them work as a guild. We’re going to have two weeks to build a mural size piece that could be 40 feet long. The original premise was to use the massacre that happened there a year and a half ago and have them begin to deal with that. The piece is going to have a personal message for all those involved whether it be about that or something else I don’t know.
LD: Advice for prospective or current students?
MK: I don’t like giving advice (laughs).
Thanks to Michael for chatting with me and I urge all current and prospective students to definitely try a printmaking elective here at Parsons!