Written by Art student (watercolor, art history) Taylor Long
The 2013-2014 school year has been a big turning point for the Art Department. There are many exciting developments happening and our department is beginning to grow again. Fairly recently, the Art Department has a new leader, Dr. Heather Orr. Dr. Orr’s leadership has shown a strong grade of progressivism and change into reaching the full potential of the University Department.
The biggest development that students are chatting about is the awaiting announcement about the renovation of the classic Quigley building. Though the building may not be the most suitable for a University status, art students and professors always make the best of the space provided and are still given the best of resources and tools. Not only will a renovation bring Quigley out of the Stone Age, but will help press the beautification of the campus. While most of the other academic buildings have already been renovated or rebuilt, Quigley is still awaiting its turn in the campus flip process. There has been a myriad of people pressing for the renovation and one such person is actually a senior art student, Natalie Kuenzi. Ms. Kuenzi traveled with the university president and CFO, and Music student Scott Bird, to represent the student voice in front of the Colorado Legislature, providing personal experiences and defending the renovation of Quigley. In order to save more money, time, and a long process of relocation, there is the possibility of gutting the interior of Quigley and updating everything to current code such as ventilation, heating, and to be more energy efficient. Western has become more aware of energy efficiency in the past decade and has put such issue in the forefront of renovation. And though Quigley can use a lot of upgrading, students still need to understand that Western’s Art Program has some of the best resources around; even if renovation is pushed back. Professors here at Western are always available and are willing to put time into the studio to help students, which is much more than some other colleges could say, the teachers here really are the greatest instruments of the department. Word of funding should reach our department by May.
Paralleling the renovation of the Art building is the renovation of the Art Program; the program itself is seeing just as many changes. Now that we are a University, there is a strong push for the Art Department to develop a Master’s program. A Master’s Program in Arts at Western is a huge development that would really help put Western in the forefront of Colorado’s higher education in the humanities, but it doesn’t stop there, it would also give Western national recognition. Implementing a Masters Program really helps boost the department’s credibility and merit. Another development of the program is the “parking” of the Airbrush program with the retirement of professor Rick Folchert. This is due partially to funding issues, yet is not a complete loss. Dr. Orr, Chair of the Art Department, worked with the Art faculty and put a lot of thought into letting the program go in order to put funds elsewhere and to the betterment of the program as a whole. With that program being released, Western will miss Professor Folchert and thanks him for many years of teaching.
Also there is a new gallery director, Professor Thaddeus Smith. In line of the new gallery director, there is exciting talk of a new agenda for the Art Department for having an undergraduate Gallery Management Program. This will open a multitude of possibilities for students seeking future jobs in the wide area of Gallery Management.
Western has also adopted two new teachers into the department after a long search process: Scott and Connie Aigner, both working artists and experienced Art professors from Illinois. Just recently this month Professor Scott Aigner exhibited his recent work in a solo show in Quigley Gallery entitled “FOR-EH-VER” which included multimedia artwork based around Scott’s passion and nostalgia for the film industry. The convocation on January 23rd was a big eye opener for many students and professors as his show presented more questions than answers. Professor Scott Aigner describes his show as “the emulation of the obsession with fashion and fame…blurring the lines between celebrity and reality.” Further review of the gallery showing can be found in the January publication of Western’s newspaper Top O’ The World.
In other updates, students Sam Moore, Chris Coate, and Corbett Nelson are the photographers for the Art Department, and if there is an event that anyone may want photographed to contact them through professors Terri Murphy or Chase Hutchison. Also, if there is a humanities event that is wished to be covered in the Newsletter, contact senior student Taylor Long (department reporter). And for students seeking to further their involvement in the artistic humanities and events, the Council for Creative Expression has been hard at work involving multiple organizations such as the Art League, Mountaineer Media, Pathfinder Magazine, KWSB Radio, Wordhorde, Top O the World, PEAK Productions, and the Music department, there are many ways to get involved and make things happen on campus. The Art League is the official student art guild used to provide resources and events for creative students seeking more; to get in connection with the Art League, contact Professor Thaddeus Smith or student Sam Miller (in the 2014-15 academic year contact student Silas McDonough). Stay tuned for the next monthly newsletter.