Grossmont College's Student News Media

The Summit

Grossmont College's Student News Media

The Summit

Grossmont College's Student News Media

The Summit

Behind the Canvas: Art Professor Profiles

Get to know faculty members in Grossmont’s Art Department.
Image by Antoni Shkraba


As students walk the halls on campus, they curate their pathways toward success. They have their eyes on the prize and, although the journey isn’t linear, they are unique. 

However, while looking ahead, students tend to forget that, like themselves, their professors have their own walk of life, and there’s little opportunity to learn about how they got to where they are now. 

So here’s your chance to learn about a few of the art department faculty members at Grossmont.


Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer Bennett is the chair of the Arts and Humanities Department. She grew up in Lemon Grove, attended Grossmont College for four years and graduated in 1996. Bennett then transferred to San Diego State University and earned her bachelor’s in 1998. She was granted a full ride to attend grad school at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she received a master’s of Fine Arts in painting in 2001. While at Bowling Green, she also taught art for five years. Bennnett was offered a full-time position at Grossmont in 2006 and since then, she has worked on campus.

“I love it here,” said Bennett, who’s been teaching here for 19 years. “I love Grossmont. I care a lot about it.” 

It’s a full circle moment for Bennett to work where she first attended college and teach in the classroom where she attended her first art class. She said she plans on staying at Grossmont until she retires. She has been department chair for two years, and is also is part of the Council of Chairs and Coordinators, Enrollment Strategies Committee, Facilities Committee, and Guided Pathways Committee. 

Like Grossmont, Bennett’s art means a lot to her personally.

“Art is so powerful. Art is intimate. It could be something different for every student in your class,” she said. “The way I teach, I’m very open. I don’t have very strict rules or guidelines. I’m very open with that because they’re all here for different reasons. So, I give them a lot of freedom to create what they want to create.”

Bennett taught an art class last summer and reflected on a class project critique. She said she was surprised to see how the students took matters into their own hands of the critique.

“They were so supportive of each other,” Bennett said. “It was so funny they were like, ‘Can we just talk to each other about it?’ They were basically saying, ‘You go away’,” she joked. “I was like, ‘Oh! You want ME to go away?’” she said with a laugh.

She said she enjoys seeing students being engaged in art and providing feedback to one another. The students help create a supportive and comfortable environment, making her experience as an educator more special.

Bennett emphasized that the art space isn’t exclusive and is safe for everyone. She highly encourages students who are aspiring artists to come to campus to study art and implement it into their daily lives.

“Go for it,” she said. “Get a sketchbook. Sketch every day. Make it your thing. Take 10 minutes a day and set it aside in the morning and start your day that way if you can. Take a beginner’s class…they’re not for art majors only.”


Jeff Kahn

Jeff Kahn is a multifaceted art professor who teaches Digital Drawing and Painting on campus. Kahn is from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles and dedicates his artistic influence to his early art teacher and mentor, Barbara Brooks. 

“I could thank her for almost everything. She was involved in many city-wide contests for poster designs and billboards,” Kahn shared. “She had a reputation for developing great students…I was very fortunate to have her.”

Based on her guidance, Kahn attended Pierce College in Los Angeles for general education courses. He later transferred to the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, where he received his bachelor’s of fine arts in Advertising, Graphic Design and Illustration. 

During his educational years, Kahn said he went from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond. He described his experience attending ArtCenter as an extremely competitive environment, yet the school had “incredibly talented artists that were motivated to do their best.”

Kahn immediately started working in the field at the Diener Hauser Bates Support Advertising Agency in Los Angeles and a custom aeronautics company in Miami, designing brochures, presentations and illustrations for Eastern Airlines and small agencies such as Chromium Graphics.

He began freelancing in San Diego, and during the 1990s, he began teaching while also operating his own self-taught graphic design business. Kahn has designed logos for companies such as Downy, Purina, Revlon and RoyaltyShare.

Creating art has been a lifelong endeavor for Kahn at such a young age. He said it’s a part of who he is and what he does. He recalled a time when he felt stuck and unsatisfied, and this saying, which he put on his wall, helped him gain the clarity he needed to keep moving forward: “Let the colors dance.”

Kahn encourages art students to build a supportive community that uplifts one another. 

“Find not only like-minded people, but others who you feel safe to share your art with,” Kahn said. 

“Get a sketchbook. Draw…Draw a lot,” Kahn continued with a laugh. “Learn traditional media, digital media and learn how one supports the other. They’re both unique and amazing.”


Paul Turounet

A photography professor, Paul Turounet has been a full-time faculty member on campus for the past 19 years, and recently completed 24 years of teaching. He grew up in the Bay Area and went to San Jose State University for an undergrad in journalism with a minor in creative writing. He attended grad school from 1993 to 1995 and received his MFA in photography at the Yale School of Art.

Turounet recalled kick-starting his art career from his poetry class and writing about his experience seeing his grandfather diagnosed with cancer. He described his writing as very visual and wanted to figure out how to evoke his emotions in a physical image. 

Turounet has traveled throughout Mexico and participated in many exhibitions, such as the 1998 photography exhibition at the Tijuana Cultural Center. This led him to his first teaching job as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego. 

During his early years of teaching, he participated in the USD Guadalajara Summer Program, which ran for six weeks. He went on to teach photography in Mexico for five summers.

“It was the best environment in terms of academia. I taught students from the U.S. and students from Mexico,” Turounet said, smiling as he recalled seeing connections students built together in a diverse room.

“I never looked at teaching people to be photographers,” he said. “I see my role as using photography to reflect on your own sense of who you are, what you might be interested in, and what you’re curious about.”

Turounet added that he’s maintained connections with some of his students. Although they’ve found their paths unrelated to photography, it’s apparent his teaching has made an impact.

Turounet’s curiosity about the world motivates him to play both roles as a photographer and an educator. He said his photography is an act of response to his opinions and his questioning feelings about the environment in which he steps foot.

Turounet said he hopes what students could take away from his classroom is that when they walk away, they will understand that it’s valid to have multiple interests. Whether or not it pertains to photography or other mediums, it should be within the student’s interest in what they choose to pursue.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Summit
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Grossmont College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Janelle Carter
Janelle Carter, Deputy Editor
Journalism major hoping to transfer to San Diego State University. During her free time, she enjoys listening to music, watching TV, online shopping and going out to eat with family and friends.
Donate to The Summit
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Summit Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *