Ten years ago, I took a job at Memphis College of Art because it was an opportunity to build my own program, and because the administration didn’t blink when I started talking about comics in my interview.
MCA had never had a full-time Illustration professor and did not have enough…
Joel Priddy offered for me to teach illustration at MCA almost a year ago and man, am I glad that I picked up the phone when he did. Teaching, especially teaching illustration, has been some of the most rewarding work that I’ve ever done.
When I hear a student talk excitedly about art, eagerly attack a project, or geek out over a new artist, I feel positively radiant inside. I may grin stupidly. There might be clicking of heels and wild hand gestures involved. I sleep better at night because I know at the very least a student has learned that it is absolutely, unequivocally OKAY to just fucking LOVE something so much that they can’t wait to dive right in, head over heels. Imparting that passion is worth any amount of financial fandangling and bureaucratic gymnastics.
Joel downplays the fact that he built the program up, but I cannot stress enough how impressed I am at how he single-handedly wrought these programs and curriculum. That fact alone is admirable, but his real legacy is all the students that he’s inspired with his knowledge, hard work, and good humor. He leaves huge (cordovan wingtip) shoes to fill, and for our part as adjuncts, we’ll do our absolute best to continue his work before the next hand gets ahold of the tiller.