Illustration major Caitlyn Alejandre wins 2021 NIU Holiday Card Contest

Illustration major Caitlyn Alejandre wins 2021 NIU Holiday Card Contest

Caitlin Alejandre, a senior illustration major from Marengo won the annual NIU Holiday Card contest this year with her entry, “NIU Community.”

“I love creating playful imagery and incorporating strange, delightful details,” Alejandre said. “I wanted to include imagery from different cultures to show the diversity and community at NIU while also celebrating the holiday season that brings people together.”

Caitlin’s goal is to become a freelance illustrator and illustrate children’s books, design posters, sell prints of her art and much more.

Second prize went to sophomore painting major Annelise Darville from Spring Grove, Ill with “Snowman Festivities.”

Snowman Festivities

“I was inspired by the friendly community of students at NIU, and wanted to capture the presence of this community through a holiday activity,” said. Darville.

Annelise would love to become a professional artist in any capacity, through freelance or commercial work.

Sadey Havel’s “NIU Winter Community” earned third prize.

NIU Winter Community

Sadey is a freshman BFA Studio Art and Design major (who will major in painting, drawing or illustration) from Appleton, Wis.

“I love the architecture at NIU, especially Altgeld Hall,” Havel said. “I also appreciate the sense of community on campus. To link this community to the holidays, I included students engaging in a snowball fight. Mission, of course, is also participating.”

After graduation, Sadey plans to attend graduate school. She hopes to consider positions in art museums, graphic design and even illustration, and looks forward to wherever her pat at NIU leads.

Art and Design presents Fall BFA Show, Nov. 30 – Dec. 3

Art and Design presents Fall BFA Show, Nov. 30 – Dec. 3

The NIU School of Art and Design presents the Fall 2021 Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Show, an undergraduate exhibition, Tuesday, November 30 through Friday, December 3 in the Annette and Jerry Johns Gallery (Room 214) in Jack Arends Hall, the Visual Arts Building on the main campus.

There will be a reception, Thursday, December 3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Johns Gallery where the students will present their portfolios.

The students featured in the exhibition, titled “Bright Young Things” are:

  • Mallory Albright
  • Heather Arndt
  • Lilia Casillas
  • Angella Kilabo
  • Ashley Martinez
  • Amanda Thompson
  • Michael Vitha-Nolan
Art and Design’s Kelly Gross to present on artistic process and scientific principles at STEM Cafe

Art and Design’s Kelly Gross to present on artistic process and scientific principles at STEM Cafe

We often think of art and science as very different processes. But for Kelly Gross and Jolien Genus, art and science share the same processes of investigation, research and relationship building. At the next STEM Café, hear from these two artists and educators about how they engage in hypothesizing, documentation and interpreting scientific principles in the art-making process.

“Artistic Process and Scientific Principles: Art as a Process of Investigation” is an online lecture held, Wednesday, November 17 at 6 p.m. online. You can register at

Learn about Gross’s artist residency at the DuPage Children’s Museum, where she investigated projects with children exploring light, shadow and storytelling. Hear about Genus’s artistic evolution from graduate school to the Peace Corps and Hawaii. His artworks investigate the relationship between painting and STEM and the relationship between art and the social work theory of Person in Environment.

Kelly Gross, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Art and Design Education at NIU. Joelouie (Jolien Genus), MFA, MSW is an artist and STEAM teacher based in Oahu, Hawaii.

Registration is required for this free online event. Register and learn more at

Thousands Strong kickoff featured several CVPA students

Thousands Strong kickoff featured several CVPA students

NIU’s annual Thousands Strong day of giving got off to a great start on Wednesday night thanks to the hard work and talents of several students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The kickoff show was hosted by Kate Drury, a BFA acting candidate and dance minor from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance.

The musical theme for the show was performed by the NIU Jazz Band and the Alma Mater was performed by the NIU Chamber Choir.

And, one of the students who was part of the surprise scholarship gift reveal was music major Alejandra Hernandez.

Here’s the video from the show:

Give to Thousands Strong to support our students and programs!

Second annual Thousands Strong event begins Nov. 10 at 5:30 pm

Second annual Thousands Strong event begins Nov. 10 at 5:30 pm

Thousands Strong is an opportunity for alumni and friends to engage with NIU in an exciting, virtual initiative that will increase and expand alumni pride and engagement, and celebrate the impact of philanthropy at Northern Illinois University. This year, this day of giving virtual initiative will start the evening of Nov. 10 and run through Nov. 11, with a variety of opportunities to help students and the University.

The phrase Thousands Strong comes from a line in the University’s alma mater, “Hail, NIU.” Written by NIU professors Wilbur Smith and Orville Baker, these words are as powerful now as when they were crafted nearly 60 years ago. NIU alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends show up when there are students in need, and that has been especially true during the challenging past year and a half of the pandemic.

You can support the initiatives of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which include putting the crowdfunding campaign over the top for three amazing Steelpan Studies graduate students from Trinidad and Tobago.

Last November, during the inaugural Thousands Strong day of giving initiative, donors provided more than 2,000 gifts to the NIU Foundation for a total of more than $2 million. This year, Thousands Strong will include a special kickoff presentation, where you will be able to see philanthropy in action and how the generosity of donors changes and transforms lives. The NIU Foundation hopes to build on last year’s successful event and provide even more support to NIU students and University programs.

In addition to donors, the event will rely on volunteers in the form of Thousands Strong ambassadors who help promote Thousands Strong to their family, friends and colleagues. Last year, 111 Thousands Strong ambassadors helped spread the word and their work helped generate 217 gifts of more than $30,000 in donations. You can sign up to be a Thousands Strong ambassador by clicking here.

As the event nears, stay tuned to the Thousands Strong day of giving website and to NIU social media accounts for more information.

Art and Design presents visiting artist/scholar presentation on Learning in the Making

Art and Design presents visiting artist/scholar presentation on Learning in the Making

The NIU School of Art and Design presents “Learning in the Making” a visiting artist/scholar presentation by Dr. Kimberly Sheridan, co-director of the Mason Arts Research Center at George Mason University. The presentation will be held Monday, Oct. 18 in Room 110 of Jack Arends Hall at 5 p.m. You can also join via Zoom.

In the ARC, Sheridan studies how studio art classes support learners’ agency. She focuses on creative production with technology and how technology can create innovative contexts of possibility for youth from traditionally underserved groups. Her research takes a sociocultural perspective on learning, with a particular focus on how this learning is situated in diverse and changing contexts with the advent of new digital technologies.

The presentation is supported by the NIU Arts and Culture fee.