© 2010 Rachelle Jewel COT Trees

Studio, Students and Technology

When I was a graduate student working on my MFA, I had come from a totally different background than art and design.  I had been working in investments as the credit risk analyst for a $4b  portfolio of primarily mortgage-backed securities.  Back then – no one knew what those were.  MBS’s were an obscure niche of the market and were quickly wielding out of control.  People’s eyes would glaze over at the sheer mention of ‘fixed-income securities’ while I was left struggling with the morality of it all.  I was young and seemingly dumb – but smart enough to leave in 2005, before everyone realized that not only was the emperor nude – but most of his staff was too.  I remember going to one of the 3 big rating agencies on Wall Street to learn why these investments were rated AAA.  It was a 2 week class and after learning the basics of their structure – I started asking questions.  Apparently too many questions because they made me stay after hours, brought in their computer engineers, who I am sure graduated from MIT, and showed me their grand analysis of every mortgage crisis in history and the shocks and limits that made these sub-prime mortgages magically risk free.  It was a fancy model.  It took a lot of work to make it.  It also defied common sense.  No matter how young or how non-ivy my education had been, I still had enough common sense to realize that never, in the history of banking, had anyone given such risky loans to people who could barely understand the terms of the agreement.  Hell, I could barely create an amortization schedule for the majority of these loans, and that is what I got paid to do… sort of…

Despite my overall skepticism of their technology, when I started graduate school, because of my lack of artistic ability, I relied heavily on the computer for renderings.  I was even somewhat defiant when asked to sketch and develop a design process.  But I did it, but only because I was told to.  Now that I am on the other side of the fence and teaching, I can understand why my professors practically forced us to sketch and draw.  In studio, my students who started sketching first, have the best projects.  My students who let the computer think for them, had less than dynamic presentations.

So for our next studio project, we are implementing 29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent. The students are going to have to draw, sketch and think with their minds for two whole weeks.  No laptops will be on the desk.  There is no room for them.  There is only room for creative thought, markers, pencils, sketchbooks, mistakes, process, process and more process.  I am bringing a sketchbook too.

My studio class will learn how to think with their minds.  Pictures to come…


  1. Janet Hinkle
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm | #

    Loving the blog – I always expect so much from you and you continue to exceed them. Proud to be your familia.

  2. Amy DiGiorgio
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 9:41 am | #

    Love your writing, Rachelle. Keep it up!

  3. Posted March 23, 2010 at 11:04 am | #

    Thanks Janet and Amy! I am so humbled that you are reading and loving it!

  4. Melissa Lynn Werndli
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm | #

    I’m loving your blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Posted April 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm | #

    Thanks Mel! It sure sounds like you are loving Chicago! I want to visit that awesome city again soon! Lots of love!

  6. Posted April 27, 2013 at 9:36 am | #

    15 1/2鈥?wide across the middle, 8 1/2鈥?wide across the top x 3 1/2鈥?deep x 11鈥?high. Dual handles. Handle drop: 6鈥?length. Protective dust bag included. Top tab wit

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