Monday Mentors: Meet Jason Ward, Faculty Studio Mentor

. . .

Monday, October 16th, 2023

Jason Ward is a familiar face to many PCA&D students who have taken Fine Art or Illustration courses — not to mention his work with first-year Foundation student artists. 

But that’s not all the guidance he offers. The BFA graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art and MFA graduate of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts also serves the College as Faculty Studio Mentor, interacting with students who are seeking a little extra mentorship for a specific project or class. 

“I welcome any student to meet as often as they like and find it beneficial,” Ward says. 

In this Studio Mentor position, how do you interact with students? By appointment? How can they access your guidance?

Jason Ward: I interact with students in person, in the Learning Commons. Most often a student is referred to me by a professor or department chair, however, students are welcome to drop in on their own. If any student is looking for some extra help they can reach out to me directly (jward@pcad.edu) or they can ask their professor to schedule an appointment. Appointments can be scheduled through the faculty portal on the PCA&D website under the Academic Assistance section. 

Your job description for this position reads that you “provide principle-based guidance in a supplemental and supporting role helping students achieve artistic growth and academic success.” What all does that mean?

JW: Basically what it means is the mentoring helps students develop confidence with the basics of art-making that sometimes gets forgotten or they need more time to practice. Students who need help with the basic principles of design can come to me for a quick refresher or an in-depth lesson that will help them work through a challenging assignment and fill gaps in their artistic practice. 

Can you share an example or two of a student who came to you for assistance, and how you were able to guide/mentor them in this role?

JW: I’ve found that most students come to me for help conceptualizing a project. We sketch together to develop a composition, plot perspective, design lighting, create a gesture, and put together a strategy for their chosen medium. I had a few students meet with me as a group when they were struggling to get their illustrations in proper perspective. I’ve helped a lot of students with their figure designs, particularly when it comes to proportions and gesture.

Not every student comes to me with a struggle. Sometimes they just need a second set of eyes to help them see where to best focus their efforts. And sometimes a student just wants more than what a class covers. I’ve worked with students looking for advanced drawing and painting techniques to build their skills and take their work further. I’ve even worked one-on-one with seniors in their studios. As a studio mentor, I’m available in whatever capacity a student may need or want.