New Faculty Profile: Dr. Mary Claire Hafeli ☆

Dr. Hafeli joined the faculty of the Art and Art Education program this Fall.

This Autumn, Teachers College welcomes Dr. Mary Claire Hafeli to the Art and Art Education program. An active artist and author, Dr. Hafeli received both her Masters of Education and Doctorate from the very department at Teacher’s College in which she is now an enthusiastic team member. At the start of her Columbia University education, Dr. Hafeli commenced her studies with a plethora of questions and the hope that Teachers College would provide bountiful answers. Greatly impressed by the quality of teaching and research conducted during her time as a student, she now returns to the Art and Art Education department to facilitate classroom experiences laden with engaging lesson plans for students of her own.

A piece from Dr. Hafeli’s Residuum collection of 30 encaustic paintings.

Dr. Hafeli’s current art exhibition, a collection of thirty paintings known as Residuum, is the long awaited collaboration with colleague and close friend, Ann Lovett.  In creating Residuum, Dr. Hafeli and Ms. Lovett photographed ancient Egyptian and Roman glass held at the Art Institute of Chicago after being irresistibly drawn to the glasswares’ luminous iridescence. This luminescence is actually the aesthetic byproduct from centuries of surface oxidation. Instead of capturing the glass pieces in their entirety, macro-photographs were taken which enlarged portions of the glossy surfaces. The artists then applied encaustic paints, or melted wax, which can be tinted and used as an adhesive for the imbedding of other materials. The intention behind this particular amalgamation of media was to distort the perception of the viewers in exploration of topics such as entropy’s inevitability and the concept of decay. Thus the theme of Residuum, as Dr. Hafeli explains, “ties into the ideas of sustainability, and the effect of time,” playing off of the natural decay which acted on their ancient glassware subjects.

Encaustic painting mixes pigments with hot wax that is then layered over the art piece to add texture, and as a base for inlaying other media.

Previously on display at the Cooperstown Art Association Galleries earlier this year, the Residuum exhibit is currently installed at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. Yet Dr. Hafeli explains that “the pieces are fragile so they must be transported carefully.” Their encaustic paintings must be kept at amenable temperatures in order to ensure the applications of wax remain in pristine viewing condition. True guardians of their art, Dr. Hafeli and Ms. Lovett have thus journeyed about New York on a series of road trips to gingerly transport their work.

In addition to encouraging teachers’ connections with the artistic vision of their students and the intellectual engagement of artists with their creative work, Dr. Hafeli hopes that her students at Teachers College will never underestimate their ability to make things happen. Especially while they are enrolled as students. “A rich student experience is a privilege and responsibility,” she explains, “that should be used as an instrument for change.” As aspiring artists and scholars, Dr. Hafeli advocates that all students grasp the opportunities at hand. The world is our canvas, but we cannot leave a mark unless we take up a brush and paint.

By Alyssa Foster

Arts & Humanities Writer

Editor’s notes

– Dr. Hafeli returns to her alma mater after having been Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at the State University of New York, New Paltz and Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Maryland Institute College of Art.

-Dr. Hafeli currently has two publishing credits

Conversations in art: the dialectics of teaching and learning

By Judith M.Burton & Mary Claire Hafeli – National Art Education Association – 2012

Exploring Studio Materials

By Mary Claire Hafeli – Oxford University Press- (currently in press)

– All pictures are credit of, where the entire Residuum collection has been posted for viewing! To learn more about Encaustic Painting, please visit R&F paints, at, where tours, classes, and information are available.