Professor Aaron Baldwin

 

Professor Aaron Baldwin began teaching at Charleston Southern University in the fall of 1999. After earning a BS in Graphic Communications and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Clemson University, Professor Baldwin taught as an adjunct at Clemson and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte - always dreaming of going home to the sleepy fishing village of McClellanville where he grew up.

Baldwin's roots run deep in McClellanville, with family ties going back to the Morrisons, one of the founding families in the mid 1800s. He describes an idyllic childhood in the salt marshes of the small, isolated village, where going barefoot in the summertime was the norm, and he had to borrow a pair of shoes to go to a movie. His father is well-known writer and local eccentric, William "Billy" Baldwin. After Professor Baldwin's wife finished her degree at UNC Charlotte, and daughter, Marina, was on the way, the urge to return to his roots grew even stronger. He packed up his family and moved back to McClellanville, where he worked doing architectural restoration for three years. The desire to teach persisted, but he had almost given up on finding a position that would allow him to remain in McClellanville.

In 1999, Baldwin says he picked up the local paper and scanned the classified ads, something he had never routinely done, and there was an ad for a position at Charleston Southern University, teaching art appreciation, printmaking, design, drawing and painting – a perfect fit for his background and talents. The Christian environment was also a plus. Professor Baldwin believes that “on an aesthetic level, all art is Christian.” One of the members of the CSU search committee was Mrs. Linda "Sweetheart" Tyler, who owns a summer home in McClellanville. Everything fell into place.

During his years at CSU, Professor Baldwin has earned the admiration of students and fellow faculty members. When asked about his teaching style, he admitted that he had often pondered how the teaching of art could be translated to other disciplines since it involves two extremes – from the large and largely impersonal art appreciation classes, where enrollment of 75 students is not uncommon, to the one-on-one, very personal studio art classes. While evaluations from both types of courses have been positive, he confesses that the odds are "stacked in my favor," particularly for studio art, where students really want to take his classes and where it's hard not to have a good time. He has found that the teaching style of his own instructors, however, does not work well with CSU students. He notes that the antifoundationalism or free spirit educational attitudes of the 1960s and 70s, the era in which many of his professors were educated, had hit the art field even earlier. It was a do-what-you-want-to-do approach to art that his students find unsettling and unsatisfying. He says that his present-day students crave more structure and more definitive criticism, which he tries to provide in a very positive way. The key, he says, is to treat students with respect.

Professor Baldwin is also an accomplished working artist. He particularly enjoys oil painting and wood sculpture. His work has been shown in numerous juried venues all over the country, and he has had one-person and group exhibits around the region, including the City Gallery in Charleston. Two of his paintings are in South Carolina’s State Art Collection in Columbia.

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