Just as Carleton welcomes new students each academic year, it welcomes new faculty as well. The Carletonian interviewed two of them — Jade Hoyer ’07, Assistant Professor of Art, and Dr. Sunrose Shrestha, Assistant Professor of Mathematics — to see what brought them to Northfield and to teaching in general.
Hoyer specializes in printmaking, while Shrestha’s research focuses on the dynamics of polygonal billiards and translation surfaces and their relation to tori — the 3D shape of the layman’s donut. So, what do these two new hires have in common? Surprisingly a lot.
Shrestha attended a liberal arts school, Hamilton College, then obtained his PhD and postdoc at Tufts and Wesleyan Universities, respectively. He said it was a “no-brainer” to apply when an opening at Carleton showed up.
“Carleton was one of my first choices,” he said. “I love it, the fall has been absolutely gorgeous. I was not expecting that, especially coming from the New England area — there it’s gorgeous as well. I didn’t expect how beautifully trees are laid out on campus. I think a lot of thought was given to the layout on campus.”
Shrestha attributes his love of teaching to his past experiences as a student of the liberal arts. “I really liked learning in a small environment. My professors just seemed really content with their lives and like it really brought them joy.”
Hoyer says her experience at Carleton influenced her teaching: “It means that my philosophy on education is very shaped by being a liberal arts environment … [At] my last institution, I was teaching in a bachelor of fine arts program. And so it means that the students were wonderful and brilliant, I miss them so much too. But they were very, very focused on being art students, you know. My own experience [was] as a college student who was an art student, but I was also taking ENTS classes and a whole host of varied other extracurriculars.”
Hoyer attributes her strong belief in teaching to her “professional background prior to coming to Carleton, [which] has been about promoting access to education.” She had previously worked for a nonprofit helping students get into college and as an academic advisor at a community college. Hoyer’s professional experiences have centered around “voting equity and educational access.”
“I feel especially cognizant of that, having had the privilege to go to a school like Carleton and to have had a lot of financial support from Carleton to be able to attend,” she said.
About his teaching experience here so far, Shrestha said “The students here are super driven, even in my calculus courses, and some seniors, even ones not in my classes, have come up to me asking about my research.”
For Hoyer, the same rings true. “Obviously it’s a different educational environment than I’m used to teaching in, but I’ve been really impressed with the amount of work that the students have been putting in and how they’re engaging with the material. Like the students killed my rubric.”
Outside of teaching, both professors are currently working on impressive projects. Shrestha studies the interesting intersection of geometry and dynamics. Being a pure mathematician, Shrestha is less concerned with the technical aspects of his research, and more concerned with the satisfaction one can glean from the math involved. “Pure mathematicians don’t really care about applications,” he says, “I think of it as more of an art form. It just makes me happy.”
For any students who are as enthusiastic about surfaces as he is, Shrestha recommends reading the book Mostly Surfaces by Richard Schwarz. His recommendation has to do with the less-than-stellar editing: “it’s an early edition, so there are lots of typos — it’s fun for students to hone in on the reading and, if it doesn’t make sense, to find a typo. It’s very satisfying.”
Hoyer expects to host a collaborative art gallery in India this upcoming year with another printmaking faculty member who she met while doing Fulbright grant research with her last institution’s faculty. “[Their] work is a lot about the colonial history of India and uses a lot of portraiture and a lot of warm colors, and my work tends to be less representational and use what I would say are more jewel-toned colors,” Hoyer said. “This collaboration gallery is hoping to “kind of embody aspects of each other’s work and work that would be displayed together … and [think] about how our work might talk to each other.”
For Hoyer, the art making process is joy-inspiring but also personal. “I think a lot of the work that I make is kind of reflective of personal experience. For example, one of the projects I’m working on right now is making handmade paper. My mom is from the Philippines, and she’s a nurse, and […] I feel like the Filipino-American community, and specifically the Filipino-American healthcare community there, is kind of disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. And so I’m making a portrait of my mother [out of] paper that was made from her recycled nursing scrubs.”
The pandemic hit Hoyer hard. Her mother was a nurse treating COVID-positive patients before there was any access to vaccines. The anxiety of thinking that “my mom is treating COVID patients and I’m teaching art online” deeply affected Hoyer. “I think that my work sort of just stemmed from what I was thinking, what I was feeling and that time of heightened emotion for all of us,” she said.
Both Shrestha and Hoyer enjoy the repetitive process of their respective crafts. Hoyer was drawn to “creating multiples of work and works that have slight variations at times with the personal devices,” while Shrestha appreciated the “meditative” nature of the repeated tile reflections he works with.
Outside of her teaching and research, Hoyer enjoys drinking coffee, and it has influenced her work: for example, she constructed a mural made of coffee mugs. She also has a Shih Tzu, Javi, who is adorable but “not a Carleton puppy.”
Shrestha enjoys the Arb and would like to see some of the Nepalese cuisine he’s found in the Twin Cities brought to Northfield.
While our newest faculty work in quite different fields, they are connected by their love of teaching – and crafts. Shrestha also has an artistic side and meticulously sketches dynamic surfaces frame by frame with GoodNotes on his iPad in the form of GIFs. “I find the process meditative, but since I am not artistically talented, it takes me a long time” he says., “but since I am not artistically talented it takes me a long time … “Yeah, maybe I will have to take Jade’s observational drawing class sometime.”
Be First to Comment