Nicole Darling’s foundation in art began when she was a boarding student at Milton. She studied photography with faculty member Bryan Cheney and painting with former faculty member Anne Neely. Her education and work took her to locations around the world, and now Nicole (Class of 1997) is back at Milton, as a visual arts faculty member, living once again in Robbins House. Nicole teaches a new course she developed called Technology, Design and Media, along with Studio Art and Grade 6 visual art.
“I was inspired to teach because of my experience at Milton,” says Nicole, who has taught at Concord Academy and the Forman School. “Being a student here cemented my belief in independent school education and the transformative power of learning. I love my teaching schedule because I get to explore digital media with the students and then go into a studio class and work with my hands. It’s a great balance.”
As an undergraduate at Vassar College, Nicole majored in history. After a year abroad in Vietnam, however, she wrote her thesis on photojournalism—specifically the impact of imagery on policy focused on the Vietnam War. After college, she applied for a Watson Fellowship and traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos where she studied and documented classical dances of those regions. She then attended the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, where she completed a combined bachelor’s and MFA.
“Studying in Germany is what prompted my shift from looking at photography as a means of documentation to a means of visual and artistic expression,” says Nicole.
Nicole grew up in Japan, where her parents still live, and in the U.S., where she received most of her education. Her artwork reflects a balance of the traditional—such as papermaking techniques and black and white photography—with the modern—like digital imaging and graphic design. “I enjoy working with different mediums together and exploring that intersection between digital and analog.”
In the new Technology, Design and Media course, students learn the foundations of design using new media, explore graphic design, and enlist different software programs. Next semester, students will begin animation and 3-D modeling and design.
“My favorite part about teaching is the students—being part of their learning process and experiencing their excitement. Design is another way of interacting and communicating in the world. Sharing those tools with students today is important, but seeing them make the art their own and claim it as a form of expression is most rewarding.”