Drawing Professor with Deep KCAD Roots Branches North
After spending nearly a decade at KCAD as both a student and a faculty member, Drawing professor Gypsy Schindler has accepted a position at Northern Michigan University’s (NMU) School of Art and Design as Major Professor of the Printmaking and Drawing/Painting programs.
“It’s a difficult decision to leave KCAD, because I’ve developed a whole community on this campus and I have deep roots here, but I don’t see this as a severing of those roots; I see it as a chance to extend them even further outward,” said Schindler.
In her time at KCAD, Schindler developed an approach to teaching that Drawing program chair Deborah Rockman believes is emblematic of the faculty body’s dedication to making personal connections with students and embracing the idea that artistic talent can be developed in everyone.
“When Gypsy was a student it was clear she was a very skilled artist,” said Rockman. “There was incredible depth in the ideas that she was pursuing, and she was really willing to investigate some personal issues in her work. As a teacher, the breadth of her technical knowledge is astounding, and even more importantly, she’s a great communicator. She has the ability to connect with all different kinds of students because she’s attentive and sensitive to individual needs. Regardless of what she was teaching, her students immediately loved her. She symbolizes everything that we value in a teacher here at KCAD. We’re very sad to see her go, but at the same time we’re thrilled that she’s been given this wonderful opportunity.”
Along with her teaching skills, Schindler will bring to her new position a larger mindset about education that she was first exposed to as a KCAD student.
“It’s very hands-on at KCAD,” said Drawing professor Patti Constantine. “We’re practicing, professional artists, and when we demonstrate technique to students, we’re right there next to them doing the same work they are.This is a huge opportunity for Gypsy to expand that practice. The fact that she got the job says a lot about her, and KCAD.”
Drawing professor Taylor Greenfield, who studied under Schindler as a graduate student before joining her as a colleague, recalls how Schindler pushed her to take her art beyond technical mastery and into a broader realm of expression.
“She made it very clear that what I was making shouldn’t be a reflection of what other people thought I should be making but instead be my own voice and be the thing that I needed to make at that time, and that’s something that really changed my work and made it more personal,” said Greenfield. “As an instructor, I’ve been able to take that passion and that mindfulness from Gypsy and my other professors and channel it into my own teaching, and that has also been a huge gift.”
In addition to facilitating student success, one of Schindler’s primary goals in her new position will be to help NMU connect with the vibrant creative community of Grand Rapids. She envisions an Artist-In-Residence program that would bring, among other creative professionals, artists from places like KCAD and Avenue for the Arts north to Marquette, bridging the geographical gap with a valuable cultural exchange. Also, because NMU does not currently offer fine arts graduate programs, Schindler hopes to help undergraduates who want to continue their artistic development upon graduation to see KCAD and Grand Rapids as a great destination.
“I know Gypsy believes, as we all do in the Drawing program, that the creative act does not exist in a vacuum,” said Drawing professor Stephen Halko. “Artists have the power to transform not just themselves, but communities as well.”
Just as she’s made deep connections throughout the KCAD community, Schindler will now turn her attention to doing the same at NMU. “Really good teaching, in my opinion, is about connecting,” she said. “It’s about knowing your craft of course, and understanding how to communicate that, but if you can connect with your students and your peers on a truly human level, there’s no limit to the impact you can have.”
Schindler will officially assume her new position this fall.