With a committed interest in social justice and art education, and understanding how they both intersect with youth, Dr. Lisa Hochtritt joins the MICA community as the new Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) graduate program director.
“MICA and its M.A.T. program have an excellent reputation, and I am honored and excited to be a part of this narrative,” Hochtritt said upon arriving at the College.
Hochtritt’s path to art education was a winding one. She earned a B.S. in Radio, Television and Film at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and started out as a disc jockey for her college radio station, spinning punk rock and new wave music, before going on to work in a variety of jobs. She was an insurance agency customer service representative and ticketing manager at a San Francisco live music venue. She waited tables at a space-themed restaurant, taught English to road toll collectors in Italy, and worked at a fruit salad factory in London.
“I have done many things in my life before landing in this career, and that wide view on working and a genuine interest in others guide my philosophy of teaching, research, and making,” she noted.
Her work while pursuing an M.A. in Creative Arts Education at San Francisco State University, however, was pivotal to her current career. “The interdisciplinary work I was doing with artists and educators was mind-altering in the way they were thinking about the arts and cultural workers as change agents in the world.”
Hochtritt stressed that her time in graduate school – particulary at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned a doctorate in Art and Art Education – allowed her to build lasting relationships and gain life-changing experiences that would forever change her perspective on educating youth and working with creatives in her community.
“My first full-time tenure-track position was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). I had the great fortune of working with some outstanding artists, educators, and students who constantly encouraged me to be the best teacher I could be.”
She continued, “I also led an art education program at a small art and design college in Denver, and then worked at The University of Arizona, a large research university in the southwest where I became tenured and chair of the department. This wide range of life experiences has equipped me well to join the M.A.T. program here, where I will also have the chance to engage with MICA and Baltimore community artists and educators and learn more about education, social change, and the arts.”
With more than 14 years of experience as a full-time college professor, Hochtritt has received numerous awards for her excellence in teaching, including the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Higher Education Art Educator of the Year, Pacific Region; NAEA Women’s Caucus Kathy Connors Teaching Award; Faculty of the Year at SAIC; Faculty Award for Excellence at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design; and Colorado Art Educator of the Year.
Committed to teaching and empowering future educators, leaders, and innovators like herself, she has dedicated her career to her students, faculty, and other members of her community.
“I have found that mostly everyone wants to have the opportunity to be listened to and to be taken seriously; people are continually underestimated,” Hochtritt said. “I have found that young people, in particular, are approached sometimes from a deficit model of understanding where people look to what they are not doing right, rather than what they are. I always try to approach my teaching of any students with the belief that everyone has something to say. My progression from secondary education to graduate school was informed by my belief that the arts have the possibility to positively influence innovation, communication, and change.
The students I work with always amaze me and help me to consider the world in new and different ways. As I work to enact social justice tenets in the classroom, my students have a large influence on the direction of the class. It can be uncomfortable to admit that as the teacher I do not have all of the answers or know the ending, but co-authoring in the classroom encourages students’ creative curiosity and motivates me to teach.”
Hochtritt’s collaborative anthology published by Routledge, Art and Social Justice Education: Culture as Commons, truly embraces her interests. The publication features artists, scholars, and educators who address art and social justice education from a variety of perspectives.
“We contend that it’s not enough to teach art about the skills and expression; that infusing big ideas and concepts into art explorations through making and learning about art from contemporary artists, current events, cultural workers, and the examination of issues in the world can contribute to creating a more just society. In the book we explore how social change is possible and how schools can be more creative, transformative, and collaborative spaces through engagement in the arts. These are ideas that influence my teaching at the college levels,” she explained.
Currently co-editing a new anthology that focuses on making, crafting, and cultural change, Hochtritt said that she has found her new place, and is settling into her new role, in her new city, and through working with others is hoping to bring new direction and inspiration to the next class of M.A.T. students at MICA.