In the Classroom with Mildred Howard

Mildred Howard, acclaimed sculptor and installation artist, was Scripps’ first Erma O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor for 2002–2003. As such, she spent hours in the art classrooms, working and talking with students.

“Being able to talk to, teach, and learn from students has been wonderful,” Howard said. She believes that it is essential for students to learn about art not only from their teachers, but from outside artists as well. “It allows for the presentation of new ideas and new ways of thinking, which is what art is all about.” She taught the students that success for an artist “is not instant, it is a continuous swimming upstream.”

Because Howard believes that art is an important part of a liberal arts education, she found it an honor to reinforce that idea in the students. “Even if a student is not going to be a professional artist, she will have the background to help her face challenges throughout her life,” she said.

Howard had the opportunity to sit in on Professor Nancy Macko’s student critiques, and said: “Macko is able to talk with students, extrapolate ideas, and pose questions that make them think about what they are doing with their art and how to improve it, while also providing a safe place.” The latter, she believes, is especially important for the development of an
artist’s talent.

Howard views art as particularly challenging because “an artist wants to create models of the world as she sees it. Artists want to pose questions to the viewers of their work to make them think critically.” Howard noted an obstacle faced
by most art students: “They have a desire to tell everything about the world; they have a hard time narrowing their focus.”

Howard is planning for two exhibitions after she leaves Scripps, one at the Newberger Museum in Purchase, N.Y., and the other at Walcot Chapel in Bath, England.