Ivan Witenstein, Associate Dean of Curricular Planning

May 9, 2012

Ivan Witenstein

Ivan Witenstein is in a new position, but he is not new to the Corcoran—or to the issues and concerns of student artists. Witenstein received his BFA in Painting and Sculpture from the Corcoran in 1997 and then completed an MFA at Yale before returning to the Corcoran to teach. He continues to work as an artist, exhibiting frequently at New York’s Derek Eller Gallery.

He describes his role as a teaching artist at the Corcoran as “demystifying the profession. What it means to be an artist isn’t always self-explanatory.” On top of teaching, he is now charged with reviewing and enhancing graduate and undergraduate curricula. “We’re considering a lot of options,” he says. He mentions programs in illustration and gaming as two possibilities, as well as offering a master of fine arts degree. Whatever curricular changes are made, Witenstein explains, “They must make organic sense within the city. D.C. is a technology center, a media center, and a gaming center, too.”

Part of his new job involves shaping and defining the experience of first-year students at the Corcoran. “We’re looking at the first year as the beginning of an arc and seeing how we can make sure that experience translates to the next couple of years,” he says. He mentions the addition of photography professor Jennifer O’Neill as director of academic advising as a signal to students that their academic careers are being taken seriously by a member of the faculty.

The son of a sculptor (his parents met in art school), Witenstein lives in Baltimore with his wife and two young children. He’s also an amateur jazz saxophonist, but music comes in a distant third behind art and academics, the complementary forces in his career. “What I get out of teaching,” he says, “is twice as much as what I put into it.”

Meet Ivan at Corcoran People.