Meet our New Faculty Members

Heather Hart - Photographer:Hidemi TakagiHeather Hart (Art & Design)
Why do you love teaching art?
My work centers around the same things as my teaching--involving folks in the process. Fostering the investigation into material, concept, self and others across perceived boundaries; savoring that "A-ha!" moment where it all gels!

 

 

Jeanine OlesonJeanine Oleson (Art & Design)
What are you most looking forward to at Rutgers? What interests you about teaching here, in particular, at a public university in NJ?
I’m really excited to teach at Rutgers. I went to graduate school at Rutgers (long ago) and understand first hand the legacy of the program.

Plus, public education and programs like Rutgers are so important in this crisis point in higher education debt and privatization. Public education was an accessible space for me to learn and develop as a person in a way I probably wouldn’t have been able to without it. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to receive an exceptional education without huge debt regardless of their financial situation. That Rutgers is also filled with people interested in complicated new forms of making art is no surprise, and I want to build upon this potential.

Didier William, Photographer: Alex NunezDidier William (Art & Design)
What attracted you to art? How did your family react to your choice?
I made a little abstracted self-portrait on paper when I was in the third grade. It was just a pretty straightforward image with no likeness to me at all, but I still called it a self-portrait... My teacher, Mrs. Judy Williamson (a tall blond woman who seldom smiled and sort of looked like Bea Arthur), took a strong liking to my portrait. The following week, she called my parents in for a meeting and suggested that they send me to a magnet art school in South Miami, where she felt my interests in art would be better served. The school was an hour-and-a-half south of where we lived and would require my dad to take me to the bus stop at 5:30 every morning and pick me up at 4:30 every evening. My parents didn’t blink. They agreed to whatever was necessary, and their enthusiastic support for my work has been unyielding ever since.

 

Alessandra Williams (Dance)
Who or what inspires your creativity?
The many challenges we face in today's world become a call for me to remain consistently creative and to rely on artistic knowledge to grapple with social problems and to be diligent in the need to articulate hope, and doing so in relationship to the strengths and ideas of others. I think this is why I have always appreciated ensemble dancing and moving alongside other artists...because we have to be aware of our own bodies, and at the same time, be conscious of others' space and movement needs.

 

 

 

 

Kristen Wallentinsen, PhD (Music)
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I love talking about music, and sharing with others how special music can be, so I think that really comes through in my teaching. I also very much enjoy getting to know each of my students, who bring with them unique experiences and backgrounds that really enrich the classroom experience. For example, I always begin my courses by asking my students what music they listen to and are currently working on, and often I wind up finding some new favorite artists and composers as a result of the fascinating discussions that follow.

 

 

 

 

John Giampietro (Music)
How did you choose opera as your career?
As a child I was surrounded by classical music in the house, children's concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and listening to the Saturday broadcasts of The Met. I studied theater in college, with a concentration on acting and directing, but I always knew that opera would be a part of my life. I've always believed that the experience of opera should be the same as an experience of theater and directors have a responsibility to enable that.

 

 

 

Mindy Seu (Art & Design)
How does teaching influence your practice as a designer and vice versa—if at all? Do you sense a relationship, and if so, how would you describe it?
To me, teaching is a form of research and development for my design practice. Historicizing current present-day design allows students to understand the precedence of many of the tools and themes we actively use and think about in present day. Revising these histories, often by including lesser-known designers and projects, gives a more expansive overview of the field. Students are constantly referencing new tools, people, projects that creates a valuable feedback loop.