Faculty Spotlight: Kira Gondeck-Silvia (Digital Arts & Design, Graphic Design)

As a course director, Kira emphasizes empathy and self-expression in the classroom.

Graphic design and digital arts & design course director standing against a blurred background, smiling.

Kira Gondeck-Silvia’s parents raised her to honor and appreciate art as a medium of self-expression and individualism. As an instructor, Kira hopes to do the same for her students.

As the daughter of a nurse and an electrical engineer – both of whom were art lovers – Kira was encouraged to explore the arts from a very early age. This inspired her to follow her calling as an artist in her college career, and, after graduating from Rollins College with her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and a minor in Philosophy, Kira began working at Full Sail. She’s now going on to her 23rd year as an instructor for Full Sail’s graphic design and digital arts & design students.

I always say, ‘Think about how long it took you as a little kindergartener to write your name straight.’ Be patient with yourself; be kind to yourself."

Kira’s art style is rooted in making connections within her community, and she is an active member of the Central Florida art scene. In 2020, she was chosen to participate in a public art project around Orlando that displayed local artists’ works on billboards along the freeway. She also illustrates books for a local nonprofit, Page 15, which hosts an after-school program providing low-income children with the opportunity to get their writing professionally published. Their smiling faces when she brings their words to life through art are examples of why she insists on sharing her work with her community.

“Public arts, teaching, any opportunities I have to inspire somebody to critically think and take another look rather than just walk through life on autopilot, to see the beauty of the world, that’s why I do it now,” she says. “What makes me happy is to link people together, to make connections. I use my art to try to do that, to try to make people’s lives better.”

In the classroom, Kira sees teaching as a collaboration in which the instructor, the student, the institution, and the student’s support structure work together to give the student the best chance at not only a high-quality education, but happiness, as well. She acknowledges her role as an instructor is only a small part of the process, but she intends to do her part by leading with empathy and encouraging a problem-solving mentality. She says, “My idealistic goal is to create critical thinkers and more self-actualized students.”

As many of her classes are at the beginning of the curriculum, many students come to her having not previously engaged with required materials such as Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. In addition to new software, students are also learning how to juggle working with the conceptual side of art, both of which can be daunting for students just starting out. She hopes to create a safe environment in which students can not only try their best, but freely make mistakes.

“I always say, ‘Think about how long it took you as a little kindergartener to write your name straight.’ Be patient with yourself; be kind to yourself.”