Loyola University Chicago

Arrupe College

Susannah Strang

Title:  Lecturer, Fine Arts
Degrees: BFA, The Rhode Island School of Design; MFA and MAT, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Hometown: Hyde Park
Courses taught: ACFNA105: European Art History, Renaissance to Modern

What attracted you to Arrupe College?
Arrupe’s commitment to access and educational equity is very compelling to me. I am also drawn by the emphasis on the humanities as a part of an education that supports a student’s intellectual curiosity and independence. This was beautifully reflected in the responses of the group I met when I taught my sample lesson during the hiring process—they were open to ideas of all kinds, and asked great questions!

Talk a little about the classes you teach.
Arrupe is currently offering Western Art History in fulfillment of the Fine Arts requirement.  It is a lively class that asks participants to observe and think well beyond the parameters of the course and make connections to the contemporary, because I believe the ultimate goal of looking at the art of the past is better understanding ourselves in the context of our own complex present. The Art History class looks at the chronology of canonical work from the past 700 years as one story that can be interpreted in many ways, including through our own creative exploration.
Soon Arrupe’s arts courses will expand to include studio art opportunities, and I am so excited about that! I cannot wait to see the amazing things our students will do.

How did you get involved in teaching in the arts?
There is more than one answer to this question! In short, I focused my undergraduate and initial graduate work on being a studio artist, and did a lot of compartmentalizing of my other intellectual and academic activities.  I come from a family of teachers, and when I was younger I was pretty determined not to get into the “family business” until I started to realize that teaching is the praxis of much of what I feel is important in the world, as well as a fundamental and profound reason to continue learning and experimenting and thinking and building in all the ways I enjoy in my ongoing studio work.

What’s your favorite part about teaching? And the biggest challenge?

As I am sure many have said more eloquently, supporting students as they work towards a solution to a problem, the articulation of a concept, or the next step in a process is profoundly gratifying.  The feeling of being in of a room full of people contentedly working towards personal and shared outcomes is its own kind of magic.
The biggest challenge for me continues to be slowing down and trusting that in thoughtful teaching, as in the inside of a watch, the gears really do turn each other.