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Monika Meler

Associate Professor of Art and Graphic Design


Phone: 209.946.2864


Art Center 101


MFA, Temple University Rome, 2007

MA, Purdue University, 2005

BFA, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, 2003

Curriculum Vitae 

Teaching Philosophy

My passion and enthusiasm for teaching comes from the profound and joyful experiences I have had while making, thinking about, and experiencing art. I aim to encourage and inspire students to learn, think critically and grow as individuals and artists. My teaching fosters an atmosphere where students learn how to explore new ideas, develop areas of interest, and cultivate their unique artistic visions. In the classroom, I promote a positive group dynamic that nurtures and supports each student's intellectual and creative growth. While I believe in accountability for one's learning, I also view collaboration and teamwork as essential elements of learning. By creating a foundation of mutual respect and friendship, students are more capable, comfortable and confident in developing their creative work and realizing their ideas.
Art courses are an opportunity for growth, artistically, intellectually, and emotionally. To inspire development and growth in my classes, I promote a trans-disciplinary approach, where other fields of knowledge can inspire art ideas, and where creative ideas can lead the student into experimenting with interdisciplinary approaches. In my vast experiences as a student, the greatest instructors have made me feel like I have done all of the work myself, and I am certainly interested in cultivating such a feeling, since it gives every student the sense that they have grown and that they have the power to be creative.
As an instructor, I strive to be encouraging, approachable, and helpful. I am open to questions and conversation both in and outside the classroom. I dedicate a considerable amount of in-class time to sharing applicable information about my own creative journey, challenges, and points of breakthrough as an artist. I find that this kind of discourse promotes trust, and makes the students feel like they can relate to me. Once this relationship is established, it becomes clear where and how each student needs to be challenged. My projects are designed with the intention of challenging and inspiring students of all levels.
In my classroom a large portion of students' learning takes place through the act of making and working through ideas. In addition to learning how to make and think about art, it is crucial for students to learn how to write and speak about art. Critical written responses by students must be informed, meaningful, and address pertinent issues concerning media, process, content, history, context and audience. Through participating in verbal critical dialogues, students learn to evaluate work more honestly and become open to feedback. I introduce several methods of critique to my students that include writing and speaking to help them learn to articulate ideas and observations. Through the act of making, talking, and writing, students are better equipped to manage projects that are challenging, both technically and conceptually.
I understand that every class is a different, and every course includes a variety of skill levels. In order to best serve all students, I plan each assignment to include as many different ways of conveying ideas and information as possible. I reinforce assignment ideas through showing related images and looking at actual works whenever possible. By recognizing and addressing that each student has a unique way of interpreting information, I feel I am able to be a more effective teacher. I emphasize the importance of knowing about pertinent historical and contemporary issues in art, which allows students to contextualize their practice.
My most important teaching goal involves bringing to light the students' critical thinking abilities, which they are certainly equipped with. Critical thinking can be developed through introducing students to new approaches, and artists that are innovative, exciting, and contemporary. One of the most pivotal aspects of teaching and learning are times of breakthrough where students become interested in new ideas and approaches, as this is the most honest evidence of the power of teaching and learning.
I strive to connect students to the art world outside of the classroom. It is important that students see me engaging in local, national, and international art communities, so that they can develop a relationship not only with the process of making art, but also with art culture. Viewing art in person allows the student to realize the power that art has, which connects them deeply to the importance of the creative process, and inspires them to challenge their ideas. I hope that through this engagement with diverse art communities, my students will develop and uncover resources that will to be important throughout their education, and will lead them into their professional careers.

Scholarly Interest

"The thing we call a place is the intersection of many changing forces passing through, whirling around, mixing, dissolving, and exploding in a fixed location." Rebecca Solnit, The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness

My artwork examines actual and constructed memory, especially as it related to my upbringing in Poland and immigration to the United States. My recollections of the places I occupied in Poland and in my initial years in Chicago, the city I immigrated to, serve as the whirling, mixing, dissolving, and exploding forces that Rebecca Solnit references in The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness. 
Memory is liminal. Remembering a place is not an act of recollecting the actual place but our last memory of that place. Therefore, my work is often an abstraction of a place, space, building, folktale, or event that had a lasting impression. I use images that reference my father's elaborate gardens, my mother's colorful textiles, the Slavic folktale of the Baba Jaga, and the majestic skyscrapers of Chicago. Images repeat, change direction, and dominance. All of these actions mimic the actions of memory.

Works by Monika Meler:

Artwork by Monika Meler Artwork by Monika Meler
Fantasy Structure #1
Diffused Relief print, Monotype
39 x 28.5" 2011

Hand-cut stencil, Relief print
35 x 50" 2012


PACS 2 Art and Controversy
ARTS 005 Drawing
ARTS 007 2D Design and Color
ARTS 021 and 121 Life Drawing 1 and 2
ARTS 059, 151, and 153 Printmaking 1, 2 and 3
ARTS 181 and 185 Studio Art Seminar 1 and 3
ARTS 193 Professional Practices in the Visual Arts