Jordan Whitten began at Brevard College as an adjunct instructor in 2019 and is currently a visiting assistant professor. A native of Memphis, Tennessee he holds a bachelor’s of fine arts from Memphis College of Art and a master’s of fine arts from East Tennessee State University — both in photography. In addition to teaching at Brevard College, he provides art handling and photographic support to museums and galleries in the Asheville area.
Whitten is motivated to help Brevard College students understand how to create images that look the way they envision. He said, “It’s the most rewarding moment when you work with a student that finds their ‘aha’ moment.” He became interested in teaching while working in the digital media department of an action sports camp in 2010, helping campers recreate images they admired in skateboard magazines using the correct lenses, flashes, angles, settings and design software. “I instantly felt drawn to serving as a mentor who helps bridge the gap of possibilities for aspiring photographers and videographers,” Whitten said.
As a result of the collaborative atmosphere at Brevard College, Whitten has evolved his teaching approach to include more group projects in order to build relationships and simulate professional environments students might encounter after graduating. He said, “collaborative work helps create a supportive peer group that I find to be absolutely necessary in the arts.”
To help student photographers reach their goals, he encourages them to shape viewer experiences and expectations with each photograph they take. He said, “photographs live in an interesting realm in art since the camera can render the world so accurately. People believe what they see in photographs and a photo can be perceived in a multitude of ways — a visual short story, a sociological study, a historic recreation or many other things.”
Whitten recently undertook two projects to enhance experiential learning at Brevard College. In February, he curated an interdisciplinary show of artists in an exhibition at Spiers Gallery in the Sims Art Building, titled “Forged Replica: A Contemporary Look at Landscape.”
Inspiration for the show came from students taking advantage of the gorgeous landscape which surrounds Brevard. The painters, photographers and multidisciplinary artists in the show explore how the landscape is heavily manipulated by humankind; asking the future to question their experience with the landscape. Professor Whitten said, “I learned where a large number of students’ interests lie and I wanted to bring a show of work to campus to provide opportunities and options to explore in their own work.”
After learning about the needs of Brevard College photography students, Whitten also completed an overhaul of the photography studio, reshaping the space to streamline workflow for digital media and photography students to utilize studio lighting, green screens, an infinity wall, large format printing and print management.
Whitten believes in the campus community at Brevard College and relies on the kind and supportive nature of the faculty and staff. He said, “Any time I need help, I’m fully supported and never treated as if any question is a waste of time or a bad question. Everyone is fully committed to supporting the growth of students, faculty, staff and themselves.”