Through impressive schooling, many awards, prestigious positions, extensive research, and notable exhibits, Dr. Fatih Benzer, Assistant Professor of Art Education, has been involved in nearly every aspect of the arts. Though, he has found that his highest passion lies in the classroom. “Teaching has been the most rewarding job for me,” Fatih shares.
Fatih is an exceptional educator who believes in the power of discovery and the necessity of investigation. He has attained advanced degrees in two subjects: a doctorate in Art Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Painting from California State University.
“My areas of interest are studying visual cultures through semiotics, issues related to diversity and multicultural education,” Fatih shares, “as well as the role of digital technologies in teaching art.” His work has been presented both nationally and internationally. Fatih’s creative pursuits don’t end with painting. “I took the role of an art critic writing essays on various topics in contemporary art for RH + Art Magazine in my native country, Turkey,” he explains, “I also conduct scholarly research which has been published by the National Art Education Association.” This research has been presented at the International Society for Education through Arts World Congress, as well as the National Art Education Association National Conference. As if Fatih’s schedule wasn’t packed enough, he even served as the president of the United States Society for Education through Art from 2017 to 2019.
Fatih has been recognized for his outstanding contributions in his field. Recently, he received the Higher Education Art Educator of the Year Award from the Missouri Art Education Association, as well as the 2020 service award from the United States Society for Education through Arts. “I received [this award] because of my contributions to the field of art education as I served in many levels as [both the president] and currently as the executive secretary,” Fatih shares. Last year, he also had the opportunity of showing, along with ceramicist James Klueg, “Indexical,” a two-person exhibition presented in Columbia, Missouri.
Fatih was attracted to the Art + Design Department because of its diversity and inclusion among its community members. “I wanted to be part of that community in regard to its open mindedness and welcoming atmosphere across campus,” he shares. The guidance he received from fellow colleagues allowed him to feel welcome. “Such great network of support really makes a big difference when it comes to creating a positive and upbeat work environment,” Fatih states. Through his time at Missouri State, he has experienced growth not only as an educator, but also as an artist. Fatih cites volunteering on and off campus as another element that widened his community, both for himself and his family. “I have to say that this system of support went beyond the university campus,” Fatih shares, “My family and I were accepted and embraced by the community at large.”
As an educator, Fatih’s mission is to “create a constructive teaching and learning environment with immense attention given to the topics related to pedagogy, diversity, effective use of technology, scholarly research, and globalization.” Curiosity and the encouragement of curiosity is also present. “I would like my students to know that making art is a ever-changing process filled with great challenges and excitement,” Fatih shares. He also supports the importance of having a community of encouraging and trustworthy individuals. Fatih’s advice for students also advocates for taking on new challenges and meeting new people, even if it feels scary. “Instead of worrying about making mistakes or failing, learn to expect that you will,” Fatih states, “It is all about what you do to get back on your feet when you fail.”