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Archive for Saturday, April 23, 2005

Commentary: Emerging artists contribute to culture

April 23, 2005

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The School of Fine Arts at Kansas University is made up of three academic departments - art, design, and music and dance - and the Lied Center. The school is a major contributor to the cultural/artistic life of Lawrence and the region through performances, exhibitions and lectures.

Many readers already know about the performances by world-class artists at the Lied Center. The roster of artists/performances in Lawrence the past year includes Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the Cypress String Quartet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hal Holbrook in "Mark Twain Tonight!," the Blind Boys of Alabama, as well as performances of "Fosse," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Carmen" and "42nd Street" to name a few.

What might be less visible to readers are the performances/exhibitions by emerging artists, the more than 1,500 students enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in programs that lead to undergraduate and graduate degrees, and by faculty artists. For example, there are concerts/performances each semester at the Lied Center by the KU Wind Ensemble, the KU Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Band and the University Band, the several jazz ensembles, and the University Dance Company, as well as the annual Holiday Vespers and Jazz Vespers. Other performances by students and faculty occur in Murphy Hall and the Robinson Center as well as other venues in the area. In total, 300 public performances are presented each year by the music and dance department, ranging from solo recital and chamber music events to large ensemble and opera productions.

Exhibitions in the Art and Design Gallery offer another opportunity to enjoy work by emerging artists and faculty artists. Located on the third floor of the Art and Design Building, this gallery exhibits work by undergraduate and graduate students, art department and design department faculty, and visiting artists. The 20042005 exhibition calendar lists 19 shows, and the work on exhibits during the school year showcases four areas of the art department - drawing and painting, printmaking, sculpture and expanded media. It also features seven areas of the design department - ceramics, industrial design, interior design, metalsmithing and jewelry, textile design, theatre design and visual communication: graphic design or illustration.

Also, some of our faculty communicate their research to the public through lectures, classes and workshops. For example, two of the spring classes through the KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute are taught by School of Fine Arts faculty. Finally, other Fine Arts faculty and students are vitally concerned with the next generation of artists, and 10 percent of its undergraduates in the school are preparing to be art or music teachers in prekindergarten-12 settings.

KU faculty and students welcome the opportunities to share their creative research with the community. Lawrence residents are invited to visit campus often to experience the cultural richness the School of Fine Arts brings to the region.

Steve Hedden is fine arts dean at Kansas University.

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