"I want my students to understand that art doesn't have to be passive, it can be used to actively engage and shape the world at large."

For sculptor and Assistant Professor of Art, Joe Meiser, the act of creating can both question and shape reality. In one attempt to reconsider his own reality, Meiser sculpted a bronze fox and then burned it in a pyre fueled with an enormous bellows. Meiser says that the work was a challenge to the persistence of his childhood fears.

In another project, Meiser spent 10 hours in a sensory deprivation tank that he built. "It started out with a question about whether the mind could exist separately from the body," he says. "We are so grounded by our physical existence, but it seems like there must be more to the world than what we can perceive with our senses."

Meiser says that this project concluded in a way that he hadn't anticipated. "I didn't have the profound, life-changing experience that I had expected," he says. "But what I realized from the project was perhaps equally worthwhile — that I have a tremendous capacity for action in the world. So, rather than try to separate myself from my physical surroundings, it is better to focus on trying to improve these surroundings."

Meiser has promoted community engagement in his classes by taking his students to work with the residents of retirement homes, and children who have developmental disabilities. He says, "I want my students to understand that art doesn't have to be passive, it can be used to actively engage and shape the world at large."

At Bucknell, Meiser plans to incorporate three-dimensional computer modeling into his courses. He looks forward to teaching in Bucknell's liberal arts environment, and is excited about working with students from a variety of majors in his classes. "I think that something very interesting happens in the dialogue among students of different backgrounds, it certainly brings a wider relevance and complexity to the artwork produced in a class," he says.

View some of Meiser's work online at www.joemeiser.com.

Posted Sept. 22, 2009

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