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David Earle

Visual Art & Photography Faculty

David Earle

Tell us about your role here.

Cast your net wide! Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. At the same time, when life gets stressful, know when to embrace your comfort zone. When I'm making art, I'm always seeking out that mysterious state called "flow." This is an experience known to athletes and artists alike when you have practiced something so much that your unconscious takes over and seems to be guiding your every move. There's always a push pull between a novel idea or experience that makes the world seem fresh and exciting and that more ancient part of us that flourishes through practice and repetition. 

What would our community be surprised to find out about you?

When I was in middle school I struggled with math and science. I found myself failing tests and questioning my intelligence and it took a long time to rebuild academic confidence. But years later as an adult I became fascinated by science, digging deep into subjects like cosmology, animal cognition, and anthropology. I now explore these ideas in my art practice and can't get enough of the stuff. You never know when an old enemy might turn out to be a dear friend in disguise! 

How do you spend your free time? 

Hiking, making art, and building Lego cities with my five year old son Silas.

In which Flintridge Prep teacher's class would you like to enroll, even for a day? Why?

Last year I proctored finals for Mr. Herman's 9th grade Biology class. It might seem perverse, since I struggled with science as a young student, but the energy in the room as the students wrestled with their exams and the excitement of the subject made me want to go back and do it all over again. 

What do you wish everyone knew about the community and students at Flintridge Prep?

This is a community built on kindness, among other things. Not only is it embedded in the honor code, but it's a criteria for seeking out students and faculty. I see that good will and public spiritedness everywhere at Flintridge Prep and it is a real pleasure to be part of it.

What impact do you hope to have at Flintridge Prep? How do you see your role in helping create community here?

Making art is frequently a solitary experience, especially for the professional artist. But historically, when you look at traditional non-western cultures, making art is just like cooking or dance. It's a communal practice, where everyone has a role and there is no individual artistic "genius." In this way of thinking, art is inseparable from life, indeed, making things is a core aspect of life itself. We've lost that communal aspect of art in our modern world, but when I do a project like sumi ink drawing, where all the students paint together on a single large sheet of paper, students are reunited with that collective experience that is the birth-rite of being human.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

In 2010 I curated and designed "The Open Daybook," an art book and perpetual calendar featuring original work by 365 artists, one for every day of the year. It was an enormous undertaking that wound up consuming a year and half of my life to complete but totally rewarding in the end.

Tell us about a teacher who had a significant impact on you.

When I was in high school I went through a period where I was chronically late to school. My advisor, Bernie Markwell, came up with a unique solution: he turned off his morning alarm and instead relied on me to call him and wake him up. If I slept in and failed to call him, Mr. Markwell would be late to school too. By yoking our fates together, and trusting me with his own, Bernie taught me not only to take responsibility for my actions, but that our choices have repercussions for others as well. I was never late again that year!