Filming on Vocation: Doug Calisch [CS]

SYNOPSIS: Doctor Calisch delivers tons of insights into the life and development of an artist, a professor, and a campus leader. Watch the whole video for lots of little pieces of advice, and hear about the kind of exemplar who inspires him.


CS: What do you do here?

0:55 Dr. Calisch – So I’ve been at Wabash 32 years, teaching in my 32nd year, I’m in the art department. For about 15 of those years I’ve been the chair of the department, kind of a middle-level administrative position. The heart of the job is the teaching, this is Wabash College, teaching is a priority. I spend a majority of my time either in class or preparing for class. I teach 3D design, I teach sculpture, I teach ceramics, and I teach photography. Occasionally I teach a freshman tutorial or help with C&T, which is not here anymore, but I had a role there for a little while. The piece of being a teacher for me that is the most important is the roll of collaborator. I feel like my job as a teacher is to listen and to work with students on their ideas, so my role is to react to what they present as opposed to telling them what to present. So any give class I present or set up a scenario that pulls students to think creatively, that asks them to think a little bit outside their comfort zone or outside the norm. Then I work with those creative ideas with the students in order to shape projects, shape their final product, and I’ve done that for a long time, I like it. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know our student body and to see what they’ve got inside, kind of behind the scenes.

CS: How does the administrative work fit in with your life?
6:00 – Yes, it’s extra, but if you are doing it well I think it is an extension. A helpful extension of what you’re already doing. I take this approach of treating these different aspects in my life more holistically, so that they influence one another so something I may be doing in the studio will become a really good teaching lesson in the class, may key into some administrative decision that has to be made. We in the art department are in the process of thinking about restructuring our curriculum just a little bit and so I bring experiences from the classroom, from the studio, from what I know being a professional artist and try to come up with administrative decisions that are helped by those other roles.

CS: Any tips for art students in particular?

11:25 – For art majors, I think it’s really important that they’re willing to be risk takers

CS: Do you have any suggestions for students in general?
13:08 – Too many students come and think that school is just a four-year stop that helps them line up a high-paying job. They do curriculums that they are not particularly interested in because they think it’s the right curriculum to get that job. I tell students follow your passion, and maybe it’s a cliché, maybe that’s what people think all artists say, but I think the four years in college is really important for students to develop and understand who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, what they’re good at, what they’re not good at. All that information together will help inform them about what the next step is.