Interview with Mark Bernard and Mark DiPietro
Mark Bernard and Mark DiPietro teach primarily in other departments, Bernard in English and DiPietro in theater. However, they also teach for the Art Department, Bernard teaches Visual Culture and DiPietro teaches film studies. Madison Laroy, a senior majoring in graphic design, talked with them about their experience teaching in multiple departments, and also interviewed art students who have taken their classes.
What are the challenges and rewards for you, of teaching a cross-listed course that so many art majors take?
What other classes do you teach that art majors might enjoy and why?
What is your favorite subject to teach?
What has your experience been like teaching in multiple departments?
There’s a couple of challenges. One challenge is that I’m not an artist. When I teach a course like Visual Culture, I really wish I could bring the experience of a practicing artist to the table. I think that would add a useful dimension to the class. Unfortunately, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I couldn’t draw, paint, or design anything even if my life depended on it!
This is one reason why I try my very best to get art students to talk about their experiences as artists and creators during class discussions. My fondest wish is for art students to gain something from the Visual Culture class that they can apply to their work or something that will give them greater insight into the work they do or something along those lines. I don’t want the theory to remain separate from their practice.
The rewards are too numerous to even begin to list. I just love being around artists and creative people. When I was in college, all of my best friends were art majors. I love to be around young artists as they begin to find their calling and their path. It’s so exciting. The best feeling in the world is when you attend someone’s oral defense, and they mention something that they learned in your class. It’s an amazing feeling.
A few semesters ago, I taught a Special Topics course in the English Department about horror cinema. I believe art majors would enjoy a class like that since film is a visual medium. I had a couple of art majors in the course, and they added a lot of valuable insights. I believe I’ll be doing another Special Topics film class sometime soon. I’d love to hear if any art majors have suggestions for the type of film class they’d like to take!
I also think art majors may enjoy my History of Mass Media course. That one’s offered every other year.
Film Studies, hands down. That’s where my heart is.
I love it. I received a Ph.D. from an interdisciplinary program in which I received training in a wide range of disciplines and subjects, from Cultural Studies to Media Studies to studies in race, gender, and identity. Classes like Visual Culture allow me to draw upon all of that training. I’m very fortunate to get to explore such a wide range of topics in my teaching.
Really not many challenges. I like to include the outcomes from both programs that are addressed in the class, and Peter helped me with that. The rewards are many – I get to meet so many students for which I would not otherwise have the opportunity. I had Z come in one time to talk about color, Tim and Bob have stopped by to talk about drive-in memories, and there is such a richness when students get together from multiple disciplines. It’s a class I truly look forward to!
Well, Acting and Voice and Diction is for everyone. Acting is a great way to work with people and hone communication skills, while voice and diction is a fun way to (hopefully) improve your instrument while studying sound discrimination and accents from around the world. In voice and diction dialects we’ll practice include Irish, Russian, Cockney, American Southern, Brooklynese, and so many more.
I love Acting, it’s what my degree is in, and when I get students who want to talk about it, I get very happy. The field, like so many others, is constantly evolving, and I believe we are in the middle of a great style shift right now – but the bottom line is getting an audience to believe what they see on stage. That’s magic.
Without question, I love teaching in multiple departments. When I first came to Siena the former director of teacher education came to my home and asked me if I would start team teaching some EDU classes. Together we taught multiple sections of Principles of Teaching and Educational Psychology. About this time I team taught Shakespeare with the English program, and I taught Great Dramas, also housed in the English program. But quite a while ago, I became division chair for Visual and Performing Arts and Education, and even though Education is no longer in our division, I find my time taken up too quickly to easily teach in other disciplines. That is why I like film study so much. I get to meet so many wonderful students.
As a director and producer (I direct regularly here at Siena Heights and at the Croswell, and have directed for AGES), I am always looking at the pictures made on stage. This is one of the reasons that I too studied some art history, and I love to pause a screen and talk about what makes the image appealing in film class.
Emily Cueto, who is earning a BFA in Printmaking and Book Arts is currently taking Mark Bernard’s Visual Culture class. Ariel Sheets is double majoring in art and theater, and has taken Mark DiPietro’s film class in the past. I talked with both of them about their experience.
How does this interdisciplinary experience inform your art?
Do you think your experience as an artist has helped you prepare for this course?
How will this information help you in your artistic career?
I believe that having experience with both historical research and analysis will only improve the quality of work I produce, both conceptually and visually.
I do think it has helped me, mainly because I have a preexisting appreciation for the processes we discuss in class. Having worked with many of the mediums and techniques that have been used in historical and contemporary art I feel that I have an edge when dissecting the choices made by referenced artists.
Expanding my knowledge of artists and ways that images are perceived will help me develop my own work more intentionally. This will allow me to either reach a wider audience or to convey my message in a more purposeful manner.
This experience helped me to relate art terms, elements and principles to more than just fine arts. It makes me realize that those elements expand to a wide variety of areas.
I do think my experience as an artist helped me prepare for this course because I was able to recognize more elements and principles of design, such as using specific colors to evoke an emotion or feeling towards a certain character. I think it also helped me to analyze movies easier.
In my artistic career, I will use this class to analyze movies more and use different elements from movies in my art or possibly inspire specific works of art. Overall, I am able to appreciate movies more and everything that goes into them to make it interesting and captivating.