Claudia Esslinger has taught at Kenyon since 1984, first as a printmaker and then transitioning into video art, digital imaging, new media and installation. Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Esslinger taught for two years at Denison University before coming to Kenyon. She holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota (1981) and BA from Bethel College, St. Paul (1976).
As a visual artist she brings to her video and installation work an interest in visceral, sculptural props and experimental forms. Interactive technologies support her focus on human and environmental relationships. She often collaborates with dancers, musicians, writers and scientists to develop new work which has been shown in film festivals, live performance and gallery installations both nationally and internationally.
She is the recipient of seven Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and a New Forms Regional Grant (NEA). Artist residencies include the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA (2007) and at the Grafikwerkstaadt in Dresden, Germany (1999).
Her enjoyment of teaching is directly related to the incredible students that come to Kenyon. Talented and dedicated, they often go beyond mere assignments to get the most out of their class experience.
"Reaching out to gather ideas from the context of our lives is especially meaningful in a liberal arts college. Putting together those fragments intuitively, kinesthetically and visually facilitates a kind of discovery that is impossible in a sequential mode of thought but flourishes in the visual arts. Ideas develop in the context of cultural history and personal experience.
"As a teacher and an artist I look for the confluence of these elements in students' work and in my own. Often materials or techniques stimulate new ideas when combined with popular culture and our lives. To use the right media for the content of the piece and to let the work have its own voice is part of a magical interchange between an artist and their artwork.
"The texture of rawhide, rust covered twigs, the electronic pulse of a moving image, the sound of machines or interviews or collaborative music all energize the spaces I find for my installations. The people who enter the galleries enhance the meaning of the work by bringing their own histories to the space and interacting with it."
1981 — Master of Fine Arts from Univ Minnesota Minneapolis*
1976 — Bachelor of Arts from Bethel College Minnesota