I started my love of art while drawing beneath the Caribbean sun with my grandfather. After earning a Bachelor’s in Studio Art, I started my career as an elementary art educator, and then sought my MA in Museum and Gallery Management in UK. Since that time, I’ve worked with amazing interns and educators at the Brooklyn Museum, the Chrysler Museum, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, local artist collectives, and then as a middle and high school art teacher. I realized that my interest in my profession was deepening beyond what I could glean from my current position. It was a difficult decision to pursue a doctorate, but I knew that I wanted to make a shift towards meaningful contribution to my field. VCU’s Art Education Department was a clear choice, with its dedicated and robust faculty, the incredible opportunities to connect with local schools and museums, and being part of a dynamic campus in the heart of Richmond. I am sure that this experience will be fruitful in so many different ways, from personal to professional, and I look forward to the adventure!
O.K. Keyes is a doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Art Education, with a concentration in new (and old) media arts education. In both his making and teaching, much of his work centers around the camera and understanding its role in the arts, sciences, and all those weird spaces in-between. One such space is his study of the physical phenomena that enable the camera to work, such as reflection, refraction, and diffraction, and understanding their influences on physics, philosophy, and photography. From early optical toys and tools to new media technologies like virtual reality and video games, his research inquires about the relationship between technological developments and the ethical considerations of these image-making devices. His hope is that this research might produce teaching resources for better integrating technical instruction with class discussion on difficult topics.
During the school year, he teaches the computer technology for art education courses at VCU and serves as the a program leader at Art 180, where he teaches animation to incarcerated youth through a partnership with the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center. In the summer, he journeys all over the southeast to run filmmaking camps and workshops for young artists. When he’s not busy spending way too much time on the Internet, making glitchy GIFs, or watching YouTube tutorials halfway through, he does try to make films with his friends every now and then.
Prior to coming to VCU, I was an elementary art educator for 6 years in Rockingham County (RCPS), Virginia. During my 6 years, I worked at 4 different schools: traveling to 3 schools within a week for the first five years, and working at two schools the last year. While teaching was challenging at times, I relished in trying to find new ways to serve my student population. If funding was lacking, how could I bring in outside funds? If support was lacking, how could I bring in volunteers? Over the duration of 6 years as a RCPS employee, I was awarded 6 grants, oversaw multiple community projects, and help raise over $10,000 in auctioned art projects for the schools. My greatest mission was to provide my students the best art education experience.
I gave my all during my 6 years as a public school art teacher, and while appreciating my experience, saw that art educators were not receiving the support they needed. Knowing that this circumstance would only hurt the art educators and, subsequently, their students, I wanted to explore options on providing support to my fellow art educators. I quickly realized that I did not have the knowledge, experience, or seniority needed to accomplish this task, and started looking into Ph.D. programs. I found VCU’s program and it has been so much more than I could ever have imagined. I did not just find knowledge and experiences, but also a new-found passion for this field that I didn’t ever know I could have.