Touro Grad and Graphic Artist Claudio Garcia Shares the Joys of Teaching
It’s a long way from early childhood in the Dominican Republic to receiving the United Federation of Teacher's Outstanding Career and Technical Education Award in New York City. Then again, there are only so many Claudio Garcias. Garcia moved to NYC when he was 9, and after studying Graphic Arts during his teenage years, Garcia polished his knowledge of Fine Arts and Art History at Boston College.
After returning to New York, he parlayed that passion for visual creativity into Touro’s Graduate School of Education School Leadership Program, his ostensible training ground for a career in educational leadership. “They give you both the teaching experience and the industry experience,” says Garcia. “In my case, the industry was graphic arts.” Shortly after graduating, he joined the staff at Queens Vocational and Technical High School, where he actually launched its Graphic Arts program. For Garcia, it was an opportunity to blend his love of classical influences with the modern forms of expression through design.
“From the perspective of a student, I’m able to offer them a different point of view. I do offer, of course, the modern aspect of design, but since my training was in classical art, very few people have that, especially in the graphic arts field. So having a teacher that has a little bit of both definitely helps them.”
As the Entrepreneurial Studies program coordinator, Garcia’s also in the unique position of overseeing his students all the way from ninth to 12th grade and, a bit like the sculptures he perfected at Boston College, truly helping mold their improvement. In particularly rewarding instances, he observes extraordinary growth just in the course of one project.
“Last week, we were doing symbolism in abstraction from an idea or theme,” he remembers. “It’s very hard even for an adult to wrap their head around how to abstract or symbolize something. You really have to go into the meaning of what a particular work means. And being able to see how the students at first were completely confused, and now being able to actually do it, is very rewarding.”
Even more encouraging are his interactions with individual artists. Garcia describes one 2011 graduate who he says “had no desire to go into the arts,” but “ended up being one of my best students and then going onto college to study architecture. As our culture becomes more immersed in multimedia, that’s a trend he only sees continuing. “Graphic arts is being able to visually represent what you’re feeling,” he synopsizes. “I know you’re able to do that in, let’s say, writing. But this generation coming up is so visual, that for them to be able to think of something and then take that and make it a reality in a visual manner is the big appeal.”
Like any medium, graphic arts present a chance to search inside oneself and explore their surroundings, and ultimately deliver a personal message to the outside world, which can be invaluable to young people finding their voice. “It plays a really big part of who I am,” Garcia confirms. “As soon as people or start talking to me, one way or another, I start talking about my art or something going on in the community that deals with art.” And in effect, he’s helping sculpt his own community.