New faculty spotlight: Wioleta Kaminska
“As an educator, it’s important to know more than just the subject I teach,” says digital communication professor Wioleta Kaminska. “I keep my mind open, and learn, especially from the younger generation, who will surpass me someday, because their talent is amazing. It’s my job to keep them moving forward.”
An artist of international renown, Kaminska brings two decades of academic experience to SCAD. In winter quarter 2020, she joined the digital communication department, a new frontier in foundation studies. Kaminska teaches DIGI 130, where students investigate the diverse applications of digital tools including Photoshop and Illustrator, and learn how to develop strategies for confident communication while navigating their personal and professional identities online.
“In each class I have 20 students, who come from different majors, and different countries,” she explains. “I tell them to look around, because this could be the one time in your life you are surrounded by so many diverse, talented artists. Now is the time to work together, and to be kind to each other, because you may need each other someday. Then I encourage them to connect on LinkedIn.”
Kaminska instills in students the daily practice of dedicating ten minutes to their visual diary, and once a week posting something from that diary to Instagram. “I had a student ask me, ‘What will my job title be when I graduate?’ I explained that maybe there’s a job that hasn’t been created yet, and you will invent it. Artists often see the need for a job that didn’t exist before. You don’t have to know your style or what you’re going to be for the rest of your life.”
A conversation with Kaminska feels both focused and expansive. While discussing pedagogy, she extols the poetry of Wisława Szymborska, the virtues of gluten-free pizza, and the work of Italian composer Valerio Sannicandro. These are not disparate tangents, but expressions of a holistic worldview where, as she explains, “The best time to make art is now.” But how to locate the impetus to create? “Meeting people and having conversations, that’s where the muse lives.”
It’s fitting that after arriving in Savannah she launched her podcast CrazyBird, documenting discussions with artists about process and what it means to be human. “I invite guests whose work I admire, and who I admire as people,” she says. “Sometimes we think of artists as inaccessible, but when we hear them talking and making jokes, it makes it all more relatable, and when we hear them share their own doubts, it makes it more hopeful. I tell my students that having doubts is not a problem, it’s part of the process, and part of their artistic growth.”
Kaminska’s own childhood provides a connection with the significant international student body at SCAD. “When I was six, my mother brought me a UNICEF postcard with a drawing of children of different colors standing in a circle holding hands. At that time in Poland, we didn’t see people of different colors. And I thought, I want to be in that circle holding hands with those kids. I’m doing that here now at SCAD.”
Written by Peter Relic.