When Dr. Don Melander, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Arts and Sciences introduced Farid Haddad, the 2008 recipient of the Robert A. Kilgore Faculty Award at Commencement, he described a faculty member who, “teaches with all the love and enthusiasm of someone who has just discovered the joys of teaching.” A student’s evaluation of Professor Haddad’s class declared, “This was one of the best classes I have ever taken even though it met at 8:30!” Somewhere between these two accolades is a faculty member who has dedicated his life to art and his career to New England College.
Farid Haddad, Professor of Art, began teaching at New England College thirty years ago. He is a practicing artist whose work has been featured at the New England College Gallery and in galleries in Milwaukee, New York, London, Paris, Rome, and Beirut. He was influenced by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya and the German artist Joseph Beuys and by the artistic movements of the 1960s and 1970s including Art Informel and Lyrical Abstraction. In 1972 Professor Haddad received a Fulbright grant. During the summer terms from 1986-1990, he developed a series of painting and drawing workshops at the College’s Arundel campus in West Sussex, England.
In his classroom, he creates a studio for his students and encourages them to find their own unique voice in relation to their artwork. Above all, he challenges them not to be satisfied with success that comes too easily.
In his own words he describes his teaching philosophy: “I deliberately approach the process of learning with no expectations. I am not necessarily in search of results but of discipline. The process of art making requires a different kind of diligent contemplation that students may not yet be familiar with. I want them to approach this unknown quantity through observation, imagination, and daring.”
Professor Haddad sees some parallels between teaching and creating art, “Both require certain gestures, certain postures, moments of silence, intense visual behaviors and engagements with the subject, periods of contemplation, and ultimately, an understanding of mistakes and erasures, especially those erasures that leave the under-layer of a mark.”
He believes that a study of the arts should be the centerpiece of solid scholarship. “We must instill in each of our students an abiding desire to question the significance of the arts and help them embrace a true contextual identity. For without such an identity we become desolate, and remain migratory, possibly even selfish individuals passing to and fro, with no hope, no concept of reconciliation, no attentiveness and devotion to the benevolence and strength of nature, no fidelity to language and history, and deprived of new discoveries.”
As for his students, they fully appreciate the quality of the instruction they receive from Professor Haddad. In the words of one, “He would not criticize ideas. He believes in the student’s ideas and wants to help them.”