MBS graduate Joshua Rockland ’03, an artist and art teacher at Memorial Junior Middle School in Whippany, returned to campus on March 5th to speak with students informally about the process of creating art, art as a career, and the importance of keeping the arts in your life after graduation. The visit was coordinated by English teacher Peter Donahue and the editors of the Upper School literary magazine, Mariah.
After graduating from MBS in 2003, Rockland earned a B.A. from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. He also holds a Master’s degree in Art Education from Montclair State University.
He showed several of his paintings, which combine seemingly unrelated objects in an aesthetic and accessible way. For many of these “collage” paintings, he said he found inspiration from everyday objects. “I grew up in an old Victorian home in Morristown, and my paintings contain many autobiographic elements such as my home’s architecture and furniture,” he said.
For Rockland, the act of creating art requires time, patience and dedication. “I look at paintings as puzzles to be solved… the way you organize elements and combine snippets,” said Rockland. “It’s definitely a craft that you can perfect over time; you really have to look at it as a process. It takes a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to fail and you have to be willing to grow.”
He also emphasized the importance of aesthetics in everyday life – even if you’re not an artist. “I think it’s important to appreciate the beauty of the things around you. Just going to a school on a beautiful campus like this affects the way you feel,” he said. “Aesthetics can improve the quality of your life.”
When asked about overcoming a creative block, Rockland said the best strategy was to follow the old Nike slogan and ‘just do it!’ “That’s one of my favorite slogans,” he said. “In this case, I think you just have to keep painting. The act of doing it will help you get past a creative block.”