they like his Instagram feed. Overall, Dudik sees online networking as an invaluable tool. “It’s interesting to see how social media has really connected the curators, the creators, the writers.” While navigating photo education in the digital age and building his dream curriculum are major factors in Dudik’s passion for professorship, teaching is nothing without the students. “The other thing that keeps me here is the students,” says Dudik. “I’m not sure what it is—they’re brilliant students for sure, and driven students, and often they come from a wide variety of experiences, and all of that filters into their artwork.” He believes he has never worked with students more hardworking than the ones here. When his pupils push themselves, he explains, he doesn’t have to “beg or prod.” To Dudik, this is as rewarding as it gets. “Just give them the space and the materials and the tools, and they create magic.” Because he sees his students as capable and creative artists, Dudik consistently tries to step away from the wheel and let them follow their own artistic impulses. “I find that William and Mary students want to know exactly what they need to do to get an A… I intentionally leave my projects really wide open and I encourage them to create whatever is meaningful to them. I give them a ton of freedom to explore whatever it is they want to explore, which comes off terrifying to them, but ultimately they tend to really grab on to it. It creates really exciting work.” For Dudik, it is not about shaping his students’ creative visions; it is about giving them the resources to form their own. “I try to understand what their motivations [are] in their artwork and help them communicate that as clearly as possible.” Dudik considers his relationship with his students integral to his own artistic and personal development. “I am working on my artwork everyday, and I consider the teaching that I do here to be part of that as well. I get as much inspiration and energy from the students as I hope they get from me—even though my voice is very monotone,” he jokes. Although he sees them as intertwined, I wonder how Dudik balances teaching
with his personal projects. “I have more ideas than I can handle,” he confesses. “That’s my issue: focusing on one thing and not jumping from project to project. I’m actively working nonstop on a bunch of different things, just trying to keep that going. I’m totally immersed in so many different things right now, I can’t even imagine what comes after that— just working.” I ask Dudik where he sees himself in his artistic development, and a trace of a smile crosses his lips as he responds, “I think I’m still in my infancy, I hope.” These words perfectly encapsulate Dudik’s modest and optimistic attitude toward his work both as a professional photographer and a professor - he gives it his all and hopes for the best, eager to enjoy and learn from the process along the way. Dudik’s answer to my final question confirms his compassionate spirit. I conclude our interview by asking what he wants people to take away from his work, and Dudik says, “Hopefully I can use this [American] landscape and this culture to talk about cultures outside [the U.S.], this humanity in general. If my explorations in that can help others do the same, I’d be quite happy.”
“I try to understand what their motivations [are] in their artwork and help them communicate that as clearly as possible.”
ROCKET Magazine's Spring/Summer 2019 issue. Find more online at www.wmrocketmagazine.com.