Lordy Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of Art
Where were you before coming to SJSU?
In terms of teaching, I was an adjunct instructor at Stanford University and UC Berkeley teaching painting and drawing. In my professional life, I’ve been able to produce solo shows at museums such as the Austin Museum of Art and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, participate in biennials like the California Biennial in 2006 and the Istanbul Biennial in 2007, and I’ve been represented by Hosfelt Gallery in SF, Finesilver Gallery in Texas, and Clementine Gallery in New York.
Tell us something about your personal life, such as your family or your interests outside of work.
I am happily married to a wonderful nurse for ten years and I have two great kids. My eldest is named Ender, after one of my favorite sci-fi books as a teen, Ender’s Game, and the younger is named Petra, after the stone city in Jordan.
Like most artists, I have a penchant for collecting things. Currently I’m collecting wind-up toys, and I have a respectable comic book collection. I love to garden and collect seeds that I find on walks that I eventually germinate. I’m extremely fastidious. I almost exclusively take in literature through audiobooks while drawing, and have an eclectic work history, which I would love to tell you more about someday.
Why are you excited to be here?
Being here at SJSU is a huge opportunity for me. Finally I get to center a class around ideas that artists are always thinking about. I do love drawing and painting classes, which I have exclusively done in the past, but it’s like learning the vocabulary and grammar of a foreign language without ever having to actually use it in real time. To test it. To see if I “got it.” The jury is still out and that’s more than exciting—it’s exhilarating.
What is your educational background?
I attended an arts magnet school in Houston, Texas called the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. I received my BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1999, and received my MFA from Stanford University in 2008. I would also say that I’ve been a student of YouTube and Wikipedia, but they lack the credentials needed to make it onto my CV.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I think that all professionals in any field need to revisit some of the fundamental lessons that made them professionals. Teaching does that for me in two ways. The first way is through instruction. Figuring out how to explain something that I already know to someone new to it gives me a new way to understand it. I suppose truly understanding something is the first step in the ability to make others understand it, too. The second way is through the students’ fresh take on the assignments. It’s too easy to be insular in a studio practice, and student interaction excites the mind and challenges expectations despite the educational level of the student.
What do you enjoy about being a specialist in your field?
There are perks to being an artist. For one, there is not a standard model in which one can conform to as a practicing artist. Artists can play multiple roles in society: teacher, mentor, industrialist, non-profiteer, entrepreneur, shut-in, activist, average Joe, hobbyist, scientist, etc. Many others in other fields strive to be artists even if the profession isn’t artistic. “My orthodontist is so good, he’s really an artist.” I can be anything I want to be, play any societal role, and still call myself an artist? What a weird idea.
Please give us a quote that sums up your personal, educational, creative, or scholarly philosophy.
Art is the one human activity that lacks any utility, but it does have infinite uses. The moment art conforms to a utility it becomes craft or advertisement. The act of making art unfettered by conformity is the most human act any person, animal, or robot can do.