New Faculty Profile: Dr. Iris Bildstein ☆

A self-portrait of Dr. Iris Bildstein, alumna and new instructor for Art & Art Education.

This semester, the Art and Art Education Program of Teachers College warmly welcomes Dr. Iris Bildstein as a new member of their faculty. Having received both her Masters and Doctorate of Education from Teachers College, she continues her work in the classrooms of Macy Hall in hopes of shaping the careers of future art teachers.

Growing up as an art-maker, the option of one day teaching seemed foreign to Iris. Yet when a short-term opportunity to teach presented itself after her graduation from Queens College, she fell in love with the children she worked with as well of the process of teaching. Iris developed an awareness for the necessity of quality art education while teaching art to public school children for several years, and then enrolled for her Masters in Art and Art Education at TC. Upon completion of her degrees Iris was invited to join the Art Education Program as a lecturer and student teacher coordinator.

Of the art shows she has participated in to date, Iris’s favorite show was her Master’s exhibition at Teachers College. Entitled Gravitas, the exhibition consisted of nine large oil paintings depicting pregnant nudes in hues of blue. Gravitas re-presented women in different stages of their pregnancy from varied angles, to capture the body’s natural transformation while supporting new life. Iris believes that “painting can be used to explore many aesthetics” and support many voices. Expressing your personal views through art is a wonderful way to communicate personal beliefs.

Having taught both children and aspiring teachers, Iris finds that there are joys and challenges when working with either group.  She believes that “there is still so much to learn in life about how to motivate, engage, intrigue, and invite the audience in.” She loves introducing artists of all ages to new materials and then observing the ways they engage with them.

Discovering new art forms is irresistible to new and established artists alike, as such discoveries permit opportunities to develop individualized artistic approaches. Iris greatly hopes that her Art Education students will develop their own identity through the guidance of their teachers, but that their own identities will ultimately prevail through their teaching styles. Her desire is to positively influence the graduate experience of students who will one day creatively expand upon current artistic pedagogies in their work.

Iris now works in mixed media such as charcoal, cray-pas, collage and kirigami whenever time permits. Though her artistic interests are both diverse and balanced, Iris believes that the focus of life is to engage in activities which unearth one’s passion. She describes balance as a fleeting quality of lesser importance to the nourishing activities which usher personal fulfillment. Finding balance is dependent on where you are in your educational and life journey. Her advice to all education students is that they should indulge themselves in all of the guidance and support they can garner: “student teaching in this capacity [the dynamic of Teachers College] only occurs once in a lifetime.” She hopes that students will embrace their graduate education and always endeavor to find moments of joy.

By Alyssa Foster

Arts & Humanities Staff Writer