Amanda N. Simons (b. 1984, Flint Michigan, USA) is a visual artist, writer, educator, and safety advocate whose interdisciplinary art practice currently explores the intersections of queer identity, and experience-based learning.
I have a deep interest in my body’s relationship to the physical world.
My visual art practice takes the form of many things: painting, print, small scale sculpture, performance, personal narrative, and video. The throughline of these various media is a deep interest in my body’s relationship to the rest of the world.
How have I been taught to act, or life, or move? And what happens when I push against that?
For the last decade, I’ve been teaching folks age 5 to 85 how to use dangerous tools and make interesting things safely, both physically and emotionally. I focus my work on the LGBTQIA+ community, neurodivergent students, the disabled community, folks with physical differences, English Language Learners, and underserved populations pursuing skills in typically exclusive fields like woodworking and metalworking.
My teaching practice is an inseparable extension of my art practice, as I view my direct work with students as not only social advocacy, but as a long term, ongoing social practice project that helps express a facet of my art that still sculpture simply cannot.
I have developed a number of strategies for creating more accessible and accommodating educational studio experiences for students. Through the implementation of universal design principles and universal design for learning strategies, we can welcome more and different people into our shops and classrooms. Staff trainings focused on inclusive and consent-based language can help teachers guide their students using design inquiry strategies. By working directly with under-served students, we can accommodate their needs more specifically.
I have taught equity strategies to educators both nationally and internationally through a number of conferences, workshops, and direct consulting opportunities. Past and current collaborators include Institute for Applied Tinkering, Student Shop Managers Consortium, Smith College, and Maine College of Art and Design.
Amanda has also taught at San Francisco State University, San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts, Girls Garage, Tinkering School, Brightworks, Southern Exposure, Mott Community College, University of Michigan Flint, AB-Tech, and University of North Carolina Asheville.
Amanda holds dual degrees in English (BA) and painting (BFA) from the University of Michigan Flint, as well as dual advanced degrees in interdisciplinary studio art (MFA) and visual and critical studies (MA) from California College of the Arts, and works as an instructor, curricular developer, and program coordinator for the SkillSet Program at the UNC Asheville STEAM Studio.