Natasha Martin and Jay Carter, the two artists-in-residence at William Jewell College, reflect on their experience at the College and remaining active in their fields of performance.
Carter, who teaches voice lessons and conducts Schola Cantorum, stated that being an artist-in-residence is like “living in two worlds at the same time.”
“On one hand, I’m here as an academic. I teach voice and teach course work, but I leave here and go do lots of other work far away from campus at numerous points throughout the year,” Carter said. “I really do have a foot firmly planted in two worlds at once.”
Carter expressed that he is grateful that William Jewell allows him to work both in his chosen field and in the classroom with students. Many of Carter’s colleagues have positions similar to his; however, they are only on campus one or two days a week and do not have the opportunity to work with students in a classroom setting. Carter graduated from Jewell in 2005 and was very interested in coming back to campus in a professional capacity.
“My time [at William Jewell] was so formative for me. It felt only appropriate, if given the opportunity, to come back and try to sew some seeds here,” Carter said.
Carter says that he always knew he wanted to do serious teaching work and that he could never see himself being one to travel consistently the whole year. Some years, Carter explained, whether or not he travels depends upon timing and what organizations ask him to be a guest speaker or soloist. He suggested that it is always good to have something to fall back upon when one is not able to perform as often.
Martin mainly teaches applications of theatre but also teaches basic theater classes. She states that her experience at Jewell has given her the opportunity to expand areas of curriculum development and for students to participate in that development. The challenge of translating her work in professional theatres to a small, academic setting, such as Jewell’s , is one of the facets of the artist-in-residence position that Martin enjoys.
The most rewarding part of the position, Martin said, has been the students.
“It was an opportunity for me to work with students in a different demographic of the country. The fact that it was a small, private liberal arts college really interested me,” Martin said. “To come into a different environment is always really exciting and really stimulating not only to the students but to me as a professor.”
After her undergraduate studies, Martin moved to New York City where she pursued a career as a professional actor. She decided soon after to go through a Master’s of Fine Arts program in acting and directing pedagogy at Virginia Commonwealth University while still remaining active as an actor.
“As an artist, you tend to separate what you do as a professor and teaching students from your work as an artist. To have that union, to be able for my students to see my craft, I’ve really made a mentor-like relationship with the students here that I know will continue beyond here,” Martin said.
Like Martin, reconnecting with Jewell students is also what Carter finds very rewarding about working as an artist-in-residence.
At the time the position of artist-in-residence was open, the music department was in search of a candidate with at least a master’s degree in some form of music, some teaching experience and field experience within his or her chosen musical form.
“They were looking for somebody that wasn’t purely academic, I suspect, for this slot. They wanted someone with a professional connection in the community outside of academia,” Carter said.
Carter described that there is a very strong academic music community, but it does not overlap very much with the professional community of orchestras and ensembles.
A previous job description from the theatre department on the Jewell website for the artist-in-residence position listed the qualifications for applicants as having a M.A or Ph.D in acting, directing or a combination along with collegiate experience in teaching.
“[The theatre department] wanted someone to give them that experiential, pedagogical process that they might not have gotten from a lecture-based candidate,” Martin said.
Both Martin and Carter are still heavily involved in their performance fields. Carter recently traveled to New York City as part of a choir performing Handel works and is now completing his doctoral degree in music from University of Missouri – Kansas City. Martin performed a self-written play earlier this year in NYC and is relocating to California at the end of the spring 2015 semester.