Westminster's Art Program
by Amanda Moore
For this month's column on higher education, we traveled to Sugarhouse to Westminster College to see how art departments function at smaller institutions. Westminster's fine art department has had a busy 2010, and you can see many of the results this month.
The most recent addition to Westmnster's faculty, Matt Kruback (Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing), |1| sat down to discuss some of his hopes for his future at Westminster. Kruback came to Westminster in Fall 2009 from SUNY in Buffalo, NY. He is a graduate of ASU, where he received his MFA in Painting and Drawing. Kruback is excited about teaching all levels of painting and drawing at Westminster. He loves the aspect of discovery in the beginning classes but also the incredible discussions and contemporary issues of the advanced students. He believes the size of the department to be one of its greatest strengths. The student/teacher ratio creates an environment where students can have one-on-one time with their instructors, and allows for real group discussions. Kruback hopes to continue supporting stronger connections with the greater Utah art community, and create dialogue and activity outside the classroom. He believes Westminster students are voracious learners and creative thinkers that have a lot to share with the community.
Connecting students with the art community is a goal for many professors at Westminster. In coordination with the PDA show in February, local artist and Westminster Instructor Suzanne Simpson had students in her composition and design class create works specifically to submit to the PDA show. It gave the class a chance to work not only within the parameters of the course but also with the PDA show itself. It was a great opportunity to get exposure and create a work that was relevant and showed strong design. For many students, it was also a great opportunity to submit work to a juror. It is easy to forget that original uneasiness one feels upon one's first submission. Imagine how nice it would have been to jump off that cliff as a group. Over half the class was juried into the show and one piece, "Rufio and Pan" by senior student Alena Ivakhnenko, was actually sold. |2| Simpson encourages her students to experiment with new media and to create works that raise consciousness. This was a perfect opportunity for her students, and many felt the work they created was on par with the rest of the juror's selections.
Other opportunities to connect students with the greater art community came when two students, David Luhr and Melissa Smolley, put together Beyond the BFA. A one-day forum that included a panel discussion by many local arts leaders, and workshops by Westminster faculty, the forum was free and open to the public. It was a great supplement to BFA course work with valuable career tips and professional advice for future artists and art leaders.
The strength of a place like Westminster College is precisely its size, which encourages students to be active. Westminster Senior BFA student Julie LaFleur reflected on her stint at Westminster at the recent opening of the Senior Art Exhibit. LaFleur came to Westminster after completing her Associates degree from Salt Lake Community College. As a non-traditional student (a 30-something wife and mother of three), Julie was afraid she would be lost in the crowd at the larger universities. She fell in love with a photo class during her last semester at SLCC, and decided to combine her desire to become a teacher with her new passion, photography. By taking advantage of Westminster's masters in the art of teaching program, she has been able to pursue both a bachelors in art and her goal to become a teacher. The faculty has been very supportive of her and helped her find authenticity in her art and herself. This newfound confidence helped her create 22 new works. Her work can currently be seen on display at Westminster's Senior Art Show until April 21st.|3|
Nic Tucker, another art student at Westminster, took a bold step this semester and created work not just for an assignment but for a solo show at The Sugarhouse Gallery. Nic showed works from two different series: Storage Series |4| and Door Series.|0| These photographic images are about the artist's exploration of space and turning the unknown into the known. His visual explorations experiment with shape, color and light. Some are very sophisticated abstractions of space. Overall, the show was very well put together and is a great preview to a future art career.
Hikmet Loe, independent art historian, curator and Westminster instructor, is curating an upcoming exhibition in coordination with the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster entitled Mirror Images: Great Salt Lake. "This exhibition is an overview of contemporary responses to the lake. Contemporary artists are continually drawn to the lake to draw out its beauty and rely upon its special nature for inspiration."|5| Opening reception will be May 1st at Tanner Atrium in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts.
Westminster's national literature and art annual Ellipsis will be debuting April 22nd at the Dumke theater. Many of this year's artists will be reading original work.
For the May edition we'll head to Provo to visit BYU and UVU. If readers have any information on art in the colleges and universities they would like to pass on please feel free to email Amanda Moore at email@example.com.