Notes on Teaching, Fall 2022.

December 27th, 2022

Wednesday August 24th 2022.

Notes on Teaching. 

What is your Practice?

What is your Scholarship?

How do you create the space of the creative, community, care, focus, attention and discipline in a room together? How do you make sure each student is seen and heard? How do you teach from your practice, how do you learn from your practice to teach? How do you learn from your students to become a listener, to respond, to teach, to care and foster a place of belonging and working together in a safe space. 

Remind the students you are a human being, remind the students you may make mistakes, you may not know the answer to a question they have. The space of 15 or 14 weeks together allows for them and you to learn together, to see together and to grow together. 

I have often found that maybe someone doesn’t respond to the assignment in a way you thought – this is okay, or the student is going through a process. Think of introductions, assignments, critique, field trips, visiting artists, readings, workshops, emails, lunch, end of the class as a creative opportunity for them and you. Think of constraints as creative. I have always used the time as a collaborator in my classes. What is it to choreograph 3hrs, 6hrs, 15 weeks. How does each student introduce themselves to the class in 3 minutes? How do you critique through a creative response of a drawing, a text, an image. How do you critique in 13 minutes? How do you tell the class they have a ten minute break but you know it’s really 15 minutes. How do you tell a class they have 15 minutes of critique but actually the timer on your phone is set to 12 minutes so you can critique each student fairly in one day, all having the same amount of time. 

Allow a voice to enter the classroom. I always say the teacher is always watching. You may have a class with quiet people, you might have a class that is chatty. You might have someone who is quiet, someone who distances themselves from you. You might think they have a problem with you, you might think they hate you. Quietly approach them, check in on them, make sure you are seeing them, they might still push back but the note of seeing is so important. Remember resources of Academic Advising, Wellness Centre, Dean on Call, your chair, admin team, student affairs, You are not alone. 


Remember this is an ART SCHOOL. This is a rare and unique space. Remember the strange, the weird. Be generative. Know you may need to change things around. At semester end maybe go over all you have done together in the classroom as a review. Remember they are anxious, you are anxious, we are all coming from so many different backgrounds, locally, nationally and internationally. 

One Tip, I learnt from Lin Hixson, if you have a teaching assistant, or if you don’t have one, make a weekly summary of what happens in the classroom and also the homework. Doing this has cut down on emails for me dramatically over the week. Let them know you are available, let them know in an era of on demand it might take you 48 hrs or more to respond. That’s okay. You may wish to tell them you are at school one day a week and you do ‘x’ amount of other things – again we are all human beings. Maybe someone is late for class, maybe someone has not done their homework, that’s okay. Create the space you wish to have in the room you are making in. 

Create the tone. Allow for the creative, joy, grief, anxiety, trauma, love, complexity, difficulty, understanding, quiet, process, suggestions, disruptions, interruptions and the unknown to seep into the space. 

As the day or night begins, make room for one another. 


mark jeffery

Chair and Full Professor, Performance


A letter to my students on their first day of class

September 8th, 2016

Monday September 12th 2016



Dear Core Class,

How are you? Claire and I hope you have had a good summer and you have had a first good week here at the School of the Art Institute. If this is your first class, happy first class. If this is not your first class, happy first core class to you and all. Claire and I are happy that you are all here. Welcome.

We thought we would take this opportunity to write to you in the form of a letter, words, language, pen to paper, to take time, to take time, to take time to write and think about and consider the following,

(You may have heard something like this before, you may not have heard something like this before, but we ask you for one moment to sit, listen and consider the following.)



We will be with you from today until Monday May 8th 2017. Some of you may see snow for the first time, some of you may take a plane to see your family, some of you may cry, some of you may see someone, something that may change the way you approach your way of thinking and life. Take a look around you, these people in this classroom are your peers, your colleagues, your classmates, you can help yourself, but you can also help each other with making, doing, eating, critiquing, listening, dancing, dancing and reading together. 

Remember the teacher is always listening and always watching. Even when the teacher is not participating, we are. To create a safe space, to create a space of attention and focus. Listening is active, Listening allows for the classroom to grow. Asking you to repeat a project, to tell us again, the following week what you are creating is a practice of embodying, a practice of developing language around and of your work. The teacher creates space in the detail that disappears once you also let go and take a risk and see where your wandering takes you.



I remember my first day of class in art school. As a shy, thin, geeky, red headed, shaved headed, glasses wearing, eyes to the floor 18 year old. What was I doing there? Who were these teachers? What were they talking about?

I thought I knew what I was doing, except my nerves were on fire.

I had never heard of the people they lectured on. I had never heard of the techniques they were presenting. I remember walking to class, charcoal in hand, sweaty palms, smudged into charcoal on hands. I had never drawn before. I had never spent the time to look, to see, and be with time in drawing before. Smudged hands in charcoal made my jeans dirty, smudged hands in charcoal over the page, mark making, became weeks of doing, making, processing, crying, crying and then looking for fragments, looking at risks, looking at experimenting, looking at moving, looking at forward.

Why do we tell you this? Why today on this first day of class of this yearlong course? Claire and I look forward working with you. Getting to know you. Getting to know and working with you. Taking the time to get to know you.

In this core class we will all work together. We will make together. We will see things together. We will show things to one another. We will read together. We will present to one another. We will fail and we will have successes. We will have energy and we will be tired.

Look at yourself now and then. Look at yourself on the last day of class. Take note. Take note now in September and again in May. We are excited to work with you. We are excited to work with you. We ask of you a few things. Allow yourself to be open to new things.

Come to class with inquisitive eyes.

Come to class with questions.

Come to class with questions.

Come to class with questions.

Come to class with questions.


Come to class to broaden yourself and be open.

Come to class to make iterations and reflect on what you have made and allow your ideas to go deeper.

Allow anxiety to fuel your desires, ask questions.

Claire and I are human beings.  Claire and I are human beings.



We may not have all the answers, but we are approachable, we have questions, and we enjoy processes of doing and making, making and doing, taking time, playing and processing. Some of the things we do you may have done before, some of the things you may never have done before. Some of the things Claire and I do we may not have done before. You will also teach us new ways of seeing, new ways of approaching. This is why you are here. This is why we are here. To learn and unlearn. To take time, to discover, and rediscover through a process of making, of making, of making of making and doing and being. We may also make mistakes and we hope in the mistakes we make we apologise.

We are all makers, we are all creative, we ask that you commit to what you are doing, making, be open to new discoveries, new possibilities, new ways of thinking. We are excited. We will talk to you about your work. We will do things that you are excited by. We will do things that you may not be excited by. Push and Pull. Pull and Push. Use your hands, bodies, eyes and minds to respond.

Think of this class as a laboratory of creative processes and ideas. A large circulation system. A language of art making. A language of the imagination. A language of the imagination.

Take your time. Take your time. Take your time.


(this for example is 1 minute of silence.)


Take your time and imagine what can be and what could be. We will talk, we will show, we will make, we will process. You may find we talk too much sometimes. You may find we talk differently than other teachers, other artists. You may have up to 5 classes including this one, this semester. 5 different voices, 5 different ways in which we interact with you. Teachers that approach critique differently. This is how the world, our world here at SAIC, our way of approaching life, art, making has different approaches, different thinking.

We ask that you commit, we ask that you take the time; we ask that you take the time. Look at yourselves now, today. Take note and we will ask you the same on May 8th 2017.

Take care; thank you for listening and we look forward working with you,

Claire and Mark

Tips on WRITING from a Juror’s Perspective

May 27th, 2014

sailors tying knots

Dear Students:

When I looked up the etymology of the word Juror, I came to Jury and the adjective description states that it is temporary and from 1610, in JURYMAST, a nautical term for a temporary mast put in place of one broken, or blown away, of uncertain origin – the word is ultimately from old french ajurie HELP, RELIEF and AID.

Another place of research states to be a swearer or to swear.

When you apply to the Propeller grant that is a joint fund coming from Gallery 400 and Threewalls Gallery think of yourself and the project you wish to communicate about. Think of YOURSELF and how you maybe number 1, number 28 or number 76 in the application pool and how a Juror is reviewing and spending time looking at your materials. How do you perform you idea on paper in writing? The Propeller fund comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Remember the Juror is a temporary mast and is giving AID and HELP in reviewing your application. For the Propeller grant this past 2013 cycle I reviewed the applications at home over three sessions over the course of a week to have knowledge of the work before being on a day long Jury panel. We were asked to review our top candidates and submit to the Propeller grant  prior of who we would like to review as a way to edit down from the list of who had applied. The panel of 5 Jurors 4 local and one regional met in the screening/lecture room of Gallery 400. As a Juror you are tasked with respecting the applications you are reviewing. As a Juror you may be reviewing work in the community you engage with day to day. I say this so that you consider how to respect your application. Take your time with your application. Take your time with your application. It is due August 1st 2014, you have time to consider what your project and application will look like. You have time to review, to make notes, to revise, to get feedback, to show to peers older and younger than you to get feedback, to edit, to create a feasible timeline, to get to contact members of the community, artists, spaces, networks you may wish to work with.

I say this because as a Juror, the Juror wants to see an application that is respectful, that is sincere, that is clear, that connects the dots with the context you wish to place your work in and onto. CREATE A CLEAR NARRATIVE. BE DIRECT. BE YOURSELF in how you write and present your ideas, the CONTENT and CONTEXT of what you wish to do. If you think you are telling the Juror what you are wanting to do with the fund then look again. LOOK AGAIN. Go away, see a film, ride your bike, LOOK AGAIN. As an artist writer you are playing a criminal and detective at the same time. Plant clearly the scene of the crime. Plant clearly the clues for the Juror to see in front of them. Make your writing clear and in your writing create a strong NARRATIVE that states:





FOLLOW THE DIRECTIVES that are given in the online form. successful applicants for me last year for me were those who communicated the narrative, that could have been an individual project like Ivan’s or a large scale project like The Chicago Home Theatre Festival. The funded projects filled the container they were outlining in their application.

How do you describe your project in 50 words, in 75 words, in 400 words?

Allow the constraint to focus you and the constraint of the application allows you to move your project and work forward.


Take your time to prepare, the background work of gathering evidence towards your application, of planting seeds and connecting and allowing for time pays off, in part because you are setting up a potential space for you to work in and be assisted with a FUND, but also maybe you don’t get the funds and if not you have begun a dialogue and also shown your practice, your ideas and process to people who may wish to work with you again.


Communicate this to the external reviewer and remember they may know you or not know you. Be clear in how you communicate. Show through example and BE SPECIFIC, BE SPECIFIC.

Lastly, I am a terrible writer and I struggle to communicate my ideas in written form – talk to people, record the conversation, have someone write down what you are saying, have a writer friend edit your words and how you write for you. WORDSMITH and CRAFT, edit and be clear and in our culture of attention AID and HELP your Juror. Swear to them this is what you want to do. CREATE AN IMAGE they can see of the project and imagine in their minds.


thanks for reading and take care,


with love,


Mark xx



January 14th, 2014

The below is a text I read aloud at my Fathers funeral on September 9th 2008:

I would like to ask you all now a favour. If you could all close your eyes and think of dad, see an image of dad. Then when you have him with you look at his hands. Look at his strong working hands and keeping this image in your mind open your eyes and look at your hands. Now imagine that dads hands, his hands become our hands, as we move forward now, what do we take forward from and with him, so that dad enters all of our daily lives, not just as a memory but as a direct action, as a response, as an intervention into all of our lives in this room today.


How do we love?

How do we see?

How do we look after one another?


Are we caretakers?

Are we listeners?

Are we gardeners, farmers, or builders?

Are we recyclers?

Are we servers?

Do we listen to the land?


You see his hands could take a piece of damp cotton wool and gently mold it to get rid of crows up Josephine’s nose as she lay as a baby on the table to help her breathe. His hands could lay fields of hedges, brushed, cut and layed down to thicken hedges for finch’s gold and green, to make a nest. His hands can dig into the earth to make foundations, carrying and carting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow, after wheelbarrow, bale after bale, spade dug, brick, pool, painted, nailed, dart thrown, hand hugged, loved, wrapped around on knee, after spade dug, wellies put into feet, into feet and taken off again, teats milked rubbed and cared for. Our hands are now covered in soil, in dirt, in earth, in dust, in diesel, in petrol, in grass, in wheat, each of our hands holding across a beach – is it skeggie, blackpool, ryhl, prestatyn, is it Scotland, across a sea to Ireland or another one to France, holding Mickey and Minnie’s hand.



Thank you to the farm, to the milking parlour, to the cows nudging and noseying in, into me the sides they were, coming to me to help me, they looked after me when I fell. The black and white cows waiting by his side


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Support ATOM-r

December 31st, 2013

TO SUPPORT ATOM-r in $20.14 & we will send YOU: THE OPERATURE BOOK

2013 has been an excellent year for us at ATOM-r! We need your help for 2014! We have fiscal sponsorship with Links Hall Performance Space. Donate $20.14 (or more!) to us before years end and we will send you a copy of our new Augmented Reality Book, signed and your knowledge of helping us continue to build in $20.14 and a tax exempt letter from Links Hall.

IN 2013 we performed at:

Being | Human Arts and Humanities Festival at King’s College in London

Becoming Nomad: Hybrid Spaces, Liquid Architectures and Online Domains at York St John University, York (UK)
Performing House York (UK)
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago as part of Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s Breakout festival
Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago as part of Chicago Torture Justice Memorial
Chicago Cultural Center as part of Shawn Decker’s Prairie Installation
Hyde Park Salon Series, Chicago
Additional performances of the work’s source text as a digital poem took place at Le Cube in Paris & Bibliotek in Bergen
We Taught Workshops at: York St John University, Sussex University, and King’s College London
and then we made a book.
The Operature performance and an accompanying 25-screen exhibition will next be shown March 21-29 2014 (Fridays & Saturdays) at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Chicago, where the collective is in residence.

Goat Island – new DVD A Last, A Quartet a collection of films by Lucy Cash and Goat Island

January 22nd, 2012

Lucy Cash / Goat Island DVD

There's a moment coming


Lucy Cash (UK) and Goat Island (USA) began making moving image works together in 2001 and have since made four uniquely cinematic films which explore different kinds of choreographies for the camera: It’s Aching Like Birds, Dark, Daynightly They re- school you The Bears-Polka and A Last, A Quartet. Shot on S16mm film in Chicago and the UK, each work is both independent of and a companion to the last three live performances by Goat Island: It’s An Earthquake In My Heart; When Will The September Roses Bloom / Last Night Was Only A Comedy and The Lastmaker.

Two of the works in the DVD collection are single screen films and two are moving image works for gallery spaces which have been specially edited as split-screen films for the DVD.

The DVD package includes a booklet of photographs by Chicago-based photographer John W. Sisson and essays by David Williams and Theron Schmidt.

Goat Island / Lucy Cash, London, DVD 49 minutes; with booklet 32 pages. ISBN 978-0-9565621-3-5


PAL DVD available by mail order. Please send check made out to “Goat Island” to Goat Island, 1144 North Hoyne, Chicago IL 60622, USA $17.50, plus postage Institutional orders: $75, plus postage

Please email gtislnd at interaccess dot com to confirm postage costs. Sorry, we don’t take card payments.


Order by card from: Artsadmin Bookshop: Unbound: £12.50 Institutional orders: £50

Please contact us if you would like information about the gallery installation requirements for Daynightly They re-school you or A Last, A Quartet:

Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey / Dance Films Kino : Winter Fundraiser & Art Auction

November 23rd, 2011

Judd Morrissey in The Precession

Please Join:
Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey / Dance Films Kino
For a Winter Fundraiser & Art Auction
Saturday December 10th 2011
7.30pm onwards
at the artists house for a night of GLOW, CHEER, and Winter DELIGHT with Cocktails, Bites, Musical and Performance Entertainment and an opprtunity to view and participate in an Art Auction.

Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey have been invited to This is Performance Art Festival in Glasgow as well as BigScreen Plaza in NYC in 2012 with their large scale work The Precession An 80 Foot long Internet Art Performance Poem. We are needing to fundraise to take the large scale performance to these cities in the spring. The project was initially inspired by a visit to Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam in 2008. A memorial to labour in the form of an intricate New Deal-era celestial map permanently installed at the dam began a complex investigation into monuments, the worker, and astronomical phenomena including precession, the ongoing, cyclical tilting of the earth’s axis that results in changes in what we identify as the polestar over millennia. When we removed the first letter, recession remained. 5 minute Video of The Precession HERE: and 5 minute Video INFO on the artists collaboration HERE:

Dance Films Kino, curated by Sarah Best & co-presented by Links Hall and Hyde Park Arts Center, is a multi-week fest of film to be presented in an environment that evokes a “kino” or private film clubs of the 1920s.

Artworks / Holiday Gifts on Auction include work by Cynthia Ashby, Claire Ashley, Tom Burtonwood Lucy Cash, Laura Goldstein, Claudia Hart,  Lin Hixson, Tiffany Holmes, Carol Jackson,  Mark Jeffery, Judith Leemann, Sara Levine, Judd Morrissey, Teresa Pankratz, Mary Patten, Katherine Schutta, Jennifer Scapettone, Roberto Sifuentes, John W Sisson Jr, Star Lounge Coffee,  Anne Wilson, Faith Wilding.

House (re)Arrangement by Nancy Gildart

2518 w Iowa Street
IL 60622
t: 312.671.0905



Technology infuses new dance performances

May 20th, 2011

Lucia Mauro previews on WBEZ/NPR Chicago our 3 night weekend performances of The Precession at Hyde Park Art Center

The Precession Performance at Hyde Park Art Center

Image: John W Sisson Jr

Celestial Bodies in the City: The corporeal and virtual worlds of Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey

May 20th, 2011

Chicago Art Magazine Article written by Marissa Perel on The Labors at the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Precession at The Hyde Park Art Center:

The Precession: An 80 Foot Long Internet Art Performance Poem

Image: John W Sisson Jr