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November 27, 2019

Faculty Spotlight: Joanna Poag, M.F.A., Assistant Professor of Art

  • B.S. Studio Arts | Roberts Wesleyan College
  • M.F.A. Ceramics and Ceramic Sculpture | School for American Crafts, Rochester Institute of Technology

What brought you to Roberts?

Roberts has played an important role in my education over the course of my life. I care about liberal arts and Christian education, so I was excited to have the opportunity to return as an instructor.

How long have you been teaching here?

I am in my fifth year of teaching at Roberts.

When did you start becoming interested in art?

I’ve always been interested in making things; drawing, painting, etc. but my love of ceramics developed into a serious practice the last two years of my undergraduate time here at Roberts.

What is an interesting fact about you?

My husband and I lived for three months in Taiwan for an artist’s residency. We enjoyed bubble tea, kimchi dumplings and the beautiful music that plays in 7-Eleven when you walk through the doors.

How do you serve the community at Roberts?

I enjoy making the sets for the Roberts student theater productions, often with the help of students. Michelle Garrett (a student) completed a very exciting set for the Charlie Brown production that took place last November as part of her Sculpture coursework.

How do you serve your community (outside of Roberts)?

I teach Sunday School to elementary and middle school students in my church. We explore art as it relates to biblical passages connected to the church calendar. I enjoy their artistic abilities because they haven’t developed self-consciousness in their work yet and so they find solutions that are playful and unexpected.

Any recent accolades, publications, academic journals, papers, conferences attended, keynote speaker, books published, grants awarded, research, etc. to highlight? Tell us about it/them:

I was included in an upcoming exhibit that is a part of the NCECA conference (National Council for the Education of the Ceramic Arts) in March 2019 in Minnesota that focuses on ceramic artists making work related to textiles, and textile artists making work sculpturally.

Share about an academic highlight from your time at Roberts?

One of my favorite courses to teach is Senior Capstone. In this course, senior art students develop a body of work for their portfolio, shown at the end of the year in the gallery. It’s work that involves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it is so exciting to walk alongside them as they develop complexity in their work and confidence as professionals.

What your favorite thing about teaching?

I love seeing students develop their ability to create engaging solutions to problems and critically think about visual imagery. Our culture is so image-saturated, that an ability to create and respond critically to what we see and experience becomes important in determining what should have value for us as image-bearers of Christ.

What is an interest you have outside of teaching?

Currently, with two kids under the age of three, I am reacquainting myself with how to play and experience time a little differently. My kids teach themselves how to walk without my help and find immense joy in splashing in the bathtub or turning a page of a book. I’m learning to incorporate their inventiveness and the delight of play into my studio practice.

What is your favorite quote or verse and why?

Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible, as it helps me explore the complexity of creating meaning and value despite (or because of) life’s ephemerality.

Student Insight:

Juliana Kettinger‘20 (Spanish, Studio Art)

"Over the last three years, I have had the privilege of taking eight classes with Professor Joanna Poag. Throughout my years at Roberts, Professor Poag has taught me so much about art and faith and the presence of those things in our daily lives. From her example, I have been able to observe and learn what it takes to be successful as an artist. She fully exemplifies the vulnerability, courage, and grit necessary to thrive as a Christian artist, professor, mother, and friend. She has always encouraged me to take risks and see the value in learning from mistakes. She is not afraid to share about her own faults and failures and has always given me good advice to help me through mine. Some of the best advice I have ever been given was from her. After having shared my frustration and discouragement about feeling inadequate and ill-equipped in multiple areas of my life, she told me, "Juliana, no one knows what they are doing all of the time. Not one person." That was so comforting to hear. I feel tremendously blessed to have studied under Professor Poag and to have been pushed by her to grow into my full potential. By putting God first and working hard every day, I see how clearly she radiates His love and light. I will strive to do the same."

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