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Five questions with KU Arts professor John Derby

Thursday, February 16, 2017

  Image: Recent artwork by John Derby

John Derby
Associate Professor
Visual Art / Visual Art Education

Hometown: Norwalk, Ohio

When/How did you get interested in art/visual art education?
I always wanted to be an artist and a teacher, but there was a particular moment at which I became acutely interested in art education. I was working in a steel tank factory after earning my B.F.A. On a Friday, I had a steel splinter embed itself into my cornea. The next work day I couldn't see, and I smashed my arm on a piece of steel, which cut to the bone and required 44 stitches. That was the moment I knew I wanted to teach.

Why did you become a professor?
I care about the quality of art teaching, and I wanted to prepare art teachers who are as passionate about art as much as they are about teaching.

What's your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite part about teaching has always been the privilege of working with ambitious young people.

What inspires you?
Mountains. I love freeskiing, backcountry mountain biking and running trail ultramarathons.

What was the last thing you read for fun?
Mountain Bike Action magazine

My guilty pleasure:
Mountain Bike Action magazine