"Studio Shift" 2016 MACCA Conference / University of Cincinnati /  10/26-10/28 2016


As an artist, I have set three goals for myself and my students: to examine the artist's role in relationship to our society; to create and execute effective visual problems for students to solve; and to familiarize students with the professional skills necessary for their success as artists and beyond.

In every class I teach, I work to ensure students understand WHY we're studying what we're studying, whether it's drawing, 3D Design, coding, social practice, video, etc. This means we spend time looking at contemporary art, current events, and historical works to better understand how we arrived at this point in time. We discuss ideas of privilege and difference in every class, and I work to explain the impossibility of investigating the context of any given work without these challenging discussions. 

The visual problems I create for my students require a great deal of brainstorming and iteration before executing final works. Critique is thorough and peer-led at all stages of a project. Through daily repetition of brief rapid-fire critiques, students grow to easily shoulder the responsibility of being constructively critical of each other. I encourage students early in their college careers to actively seek out feedback from each other outside of class, which I see happening in hallways and labs on a regular basis, all the way through graduation and beyond.

I teach professional skills starting in the very first foundational classes, from documenting work to exhibition applications. When I arrived at my current position, I helped establish a year-long course of study for senior students to rigorously prepare them for life after graduation by going through resumes, cover letters, websites, interviewing, freelancing contracts, taxes, exhibition promotion/execution, and so on. These two semesters end with designers giving portfolio presentations and artists giving talks accompanying their solo exhibitions to regional professionals and alumni who provide feedback. I view presentation skills as vital to giving my students a leg up in the professional world, and every class I teach involves presentations in some form. I guide students to understand their peers are a valuable asset, and if they invest time and effort into those relationships, they will yield returns via new opportunities and support.






Ellen Mueller has exhibited nationally and internationally as an interdisciplinary artist exploring issues related to the environment, hyperactive news media and corporate management systems. She creates experiences that engage with social and political issues through a variety of media including, but not limited to, performance, 3D printing, video, installation, and drawing.

Recent exhibitions include Americana at The Soap Factory in Minneapolis MN and Arrest Me at Punch Gallery in Seattle WA. Artist residencies include Vermont Studio Center, Ucross Foundation, Santa Fe Art Institute, Nes Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland, Virginia Center for Creative Art where she was a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Ox-Bow, Coast Time (May 2016), and Signal Culture (August 2016).

Mueller was raised in Fargo, ND and currently lives and works in Buckhannon WV as an Assistant Professor of Art at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She received her MFA in Studio Art from University of South Florida. She completed a BA in Theatre and Art, and a BS in Design Technology from Bemidji State University. Additionally, she has obtained performance training at Dell’Arte International and the Brave New Institute (now known as the Brave New Workshop Student Union).

Mueller is publishing a foundational art textbook with Oxford University Press entitled Elements and Principles of 4D Art and Design, due out February 2016.