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.
Michael Peres, an award-winning photo educator, author and science photographer in the School of Photographic Art and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology will be presenting at the NIU School of Art and Design, Thursday, October 7 on “Images Within Images.”
The presentation is in conjunction with the exhibition, “IMAGES from SCIENCE 3” open now through November 17 in the Jack Olson Gallery in NIU’s Jack Arends Hall, the Visual Arts Building on the main campus.
Peres has dedicated himself to exploring the field of biomedical photography and imaging and inspiring generations of curious students, many of who have become scientists, teachers, physicians and leaders in their chosen fields.
Science images are created to display verisimilitude and reveal empirical information from often not visible subjects. when science images are viewed outside the discipline from which they were created, they often take another dimension and can be fascinating for different reasons. This talk will explore the duality of images that feature science and how these images can become beautiful or even inspiring images when looking at unseen and invisible worlds using a different point of view.
The lecture will be held at 5 p.m. in room AB 102 of Jack Arends Hall. It will also be live streamed on Zoom. Meeting ID: 842 7745 9237, passcode: 88000, zoom.us.
Follow Michael Peres on Instagram.
After nearly a year and a half without face to face exhibits the School of Art and Design is excited to host re-Emerge, an exhibition of work by recent alumni in the School of Art and Design at the historic Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb, during Corn Fest, August 27 – 29.
“This exhibit features selected works from our 2020 and 2021 BA and BS in Art alumni,” said John Siblik, associate professor and coordinator of the bachelor’s degree programs in art. “While we had an outstanding experience working remotely, building a virtual exhibit together, and preparing for careers in the arts, it is wonderful to host these alumni and celebrate their accomplishments. I look forward to witnessing the continued impact our recent alumni make on our communities.
“Corn Fest serves as a homecoming of sorts for the DeKalb and NIU community,” he said. “We look forward to catching up with everyone during this exhibit and at the same time celebrate the renovations just completed at the historic Egyptian Theater in downtown DeKalb during.”
Re-Emerge: the exhibit featuring recent gradates from the Bachelor of Art and Bachelor of Science programs in Art coincides with Corn Fest in DeKalb, August 27-29.
Friday, August 27, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
*Saturday, August 28, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, August 29, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
* – A reception will held Saturday from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. drinks will be available for purchase
Poster design by 2021 BS in Art alumni Christopher Broek
The NIU Community School of the Arts has provided high-quality arts education opportunities for community members of all ages for more than 30 years. CSA programs and activities currently offered for personal enrichment include music and art classes, music ensembles, and music lessons for in person or online participants.
Registration is open now for the 2021-2022 school year. Enroll in classes and ensembles one week prior to the start date and sign up for music lessons to begin as soon as August 23. Early registration is encouraged, and an installment payment plan is available.
For the safety of all participants, in-person activities in the NIU Music Building will require safety measures outlined by Northern Illinois University and the Community School of the Arts. Safety information is available at the CSA website www.csa.niu.edu.
The CSA is committed to making arts education accessible in our community regardless of income level. Funding for scholarships is provided through private donations and fundraising activities, and with support from the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund.
Financial assistance is available for students ages 18 or younger who want to pursue their study of music and art. Families with an adjusted gross income less than 75K annually are encouraged to apply. Scholarship applications are available at the CSA website and by calling 815-753-1450. Need-based scholarship applications for the fall semester will be accepted through October 1, 2021.
Music Lessons – Traditional and Suzuki
Anyone can learn to play a musical instrument! The CSA offers traditional private music lessons on nearly all instruments – violin, guitar, piano, voice, cello, percussion, brass, woodwinds, ukulele and many more. Music lessons using the Suzuki approach and combining private and group lessons are taught on violin, cello, and guitar by certified Suzuki instructors. Music teachers meet with students for weekly lessons in person or online, and students are invited to prepare for and participate in a showcase recital at the end of each semester. Fall music lessons begin as soon as the week of August 23 and fall recitals are scheduled in early December.
Music Classes for Young Children
Piano Starter for Children Limited to four children ages 5 – 7, this small group class provides an excellent way for parents to prepare children for private music lessons. This fun introductory class is now offered online or in person. Piano Starter Online meets Mondays from 4 – 4:40 p.m. online beginning September 13 with teacher Soo-Yon Choi. Piano Starter In-Person meets in the NIU Music Building Tuesdays from 5 – 5:40 p.m. starting September 14 with teacher Jodeen Coulter. Early registration is recommended for these popular classes.
Guitar for Kids Teacher Quentin Dover introduces children ages 8 – 12 to guitar playing through a fun, song-oriented approach to learning. Exposure to music fundamentals such as scales, chords, rhythm, melody, and harmony helps students begin to build their own toolbox of musical skills, promoting confident and comfortable playing. No previous guitar experience is required, and each student will use their own guitar during class. Guitar for Kids class meets online on Wednesdays from 5 – 5:50 p.m. starting September 8.
Music Classes For Older Children and Adults
Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar These classes are taught by guitarist and long-time CSA teacher Quentin Dover on Wednesday evenings. Students bring their own guitar to this online class and learn to play songs, scales, and chords along with beginning music theory and guitar techniques. A lesson book is provided. Guitar Basics meets online from 6 – 6:50 p.m. and Intermediate Guitar meets online from 7 – 7:50 p.m. Both classes welcome students ages 13 – adult and begins on September 8.
Piano Basics Designed for beginners, this fun introductory class is now offered online or in person. Adults and teens learn to play piano tunes in a group learning atmosphere. Piano Basics Online with teacher Soo-Yon Choi meets Mondays from 6:15 – 7 p.m. online beginning on September 13. Piano Basics In-Person meets in the NIU Music Building on Mondays from 6:15 – 7 p.m. beginning on September 13 with teacher Jodeen Coulter.
Musicians share a love of music and learn to play with others through the ensemble experience. The NIU Community School offers several music ensembles, some for young musicians and others for older children and adults. Every ensemble performs a concert at the end of each semester for friends and family to enjoy.
CSA Symphonette A string orchestra for ages 8 – 16, Symphonette musicians rehearse in person in the NIU Music Building on Tuesdays from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Linc Smelser directs the ensemble which plays lively and challenging music. The first Symphonette rehearsal is on August 31.
CSA Sinfonia Directed by Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra conductor Linc Smelser, Sinfonia is a full youth orchestra, meeting in person for rehearsals on Wednesdays from 7 – 9:30 p.m. beginning September 1. Sinfonia musicians play a wide variety of music and perform on the NIU Concert Hall stage twice each year. Musicians ages 14 – 20 are admitted by audition and first-time members should call the NIU Community School to schedule an audition.
CSA Steelband Everyone is encouraged to experience the unique sound of the steel pan. Directed by Yuko Asada, CSA Steelband welcomes members ages 12 – adult. No previous experience on the instrument is needed, but it is recommended that students can read music. The steel pan family ranges from soprano to bass, and each member chooses an instrument. Ensemble members rehearse many types of music arranged for steel pan, including calypso, classical, rock, and rhythm and blues, and perform in concert several times during the year. CSA Steelband meets for in-person rehearsals on Mondays from 6:30 – 7:25 p.m. in the NIU Music Building beginning on September 13.
Art Express Students ages 4 – 12 learn about art and the world as they create original arts and crafts. Art Express meets in person at the NIU Art Building on Saturdays from 1 – 3 p.m. beginning September 18. Taught by NIU art education students supervised by an NIU School of Art instructor, the curriculum is new every semester. Classes are organized by age and limited in size – early registration is recommended for this popular activity.
The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University. More information, including the scholarship application form, class and ensemble descriptions, teacher biographies, safety protocols, and online registration can be found at csa.niu.edu or by calling (815) 753-1450 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A memorial service will be held at St. Mary Church, Sycamore, at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 24 to celebrate the life of John Rooney, celebrated painter and former faculty member at Northern Illinois University School of Art.
John was a member of the painting faculty at NIU from the mid-60s to the mid 1990s. He was a highly productive artist well known in the Chicago art community and a valued faculty member at NIU.
Just as Agnes Ma, M.F.A. ’15, was finishing up her bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, she was also discovering a totally different career path as an artist.
“Up until my senior year of college, I had been working towards applying to medical school,” she said. “But senior year, I had decided that a career in the sciences did not actually interest me, and I started exploring the arts by taking an art appreciation class and a class in jewelry and metalwork. When I graduated from undergrad, I knew I wanted to go into the arts, but I still wasn’t sure how to get there with my biology degree.”
Like many young people, Ma had experimented with artistic efforts along with her science-based education.
“As a child, I had always been interested in crafts and activities that involved working with my hands,” she said. “I used to ask for craft kits instead of dolls or other kinds of toys! I also played the violin and was in orchestra. In academics, however, I focused on math and science. I even transferred to the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Illinois, to finish out high school.”
Being from DeKalb, Illinois, Ma knew that NIU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts had a good reputation in the art world, but it wasn’t until she did a little research and found out about its metalsmithing program, that she decided to pursue a master’s degree as a Huskie.
“I didn’t have a portfolio or any real context of what a degree in the arts looked like at that point,” she said. “I had all my general education credits out of the way with my biology degree, so I could focus solely on taking art classes. That first year was spent on taking a few foundations, art history and even a museum studies class. The second year, I transferred to the student-at-large program so that I could take the graduate-level museum studies classes, as well as metalsmithing classes. I really appreciated the flexibility I had with tailoring classes to my needs, as I was coming into the arts very non-traditionally.”
Ma also was also used to taking the bulk of her undergraduate classes as large lecture classes with hundreds of students, so the intimacy of the smaller classes at NIU meant that she was able to receive more individualized instruction.
“I was greatly appreciative of how honest the faculty were as to what a career in the arts would look like. It helped me to have more realistic and achievable goals with my career,” she said.
The Ellfield Addition (Work in Progress detail) PLA and paper 72 x 72 x 8 inches, 2021
Once Ma received her M.F.A. in metalwork, jewelry design, and digital fabrication, as well as a graduate certificate in museum studies, she spent one year as an adjunct instructor at Kishwaukee Community College in Malta, Illinois, and the artist in residence for metalsmithing at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, while also continuing working as the curatorial assistant in residence at the Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb.
She was able to land a full-time adjunct teaching position at the University of Northern Colorado in 2016, and she relocated there. While still an adjunct position, it allowed her to work at only one institution, teaching several classes a semester while building a digital fabrication studio and eventually also managing the sculpture department. Then, in Fall 2020, Ma began working at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) as an assistant professor in fine arts and foundations, as well as the 3D Studios coordinator.
“When I first started in the arts, my own work focused much more on functional pieces and precious metals,” she said. “However, I started exploring size and space and very quickly started thinking more sculpturally. As my M.F.A. did include digital fabrication—a design and production process that combines 3D modeling or computing-aided design—as part of the discipline, it offered me a broader job pool.”
At RMCAD, the academic schedule is organized much differently than most schools. Classes run all year and are only eight-weeks long, and Ma stays busy all year long.
“My position at the college includes teaching, but I also manage our 3D Studios. During a typical term, I teach one class, manage the studio, and also sit on a few committees at the college.”
Ma’s daily work is typical to a faculty member at any art college, including leading classes, grading, attending meetings and studio maintenance, but she finds the work extraordinarily fulfilling.
“In education, it is always fulfilling to teach skills that you can see students use in practice,” she said. “The arts are no different. I am equally as excited as the student to see them problem-solve through process and bring an idea to fruition. Managing the 3D Studios means that, in addition to working with students in class, I am able to additionally work with students in a different capacity.”
Succulent Garden Study Ring, by Agnes Ma
Ma credits NIU faculty with playing a huge role in her personal teaching philosophy.
“The best part of my time at NIU was the faculty mentorship,” she said. “I experienced different teaching styles with my graduate committee, which included Jamie Obermeier, Mike Rea, and Yih-Wen Kuo, and Peter Van Ael in Museum Studies. Jamie Obermeier was an especially great role model for me as an educator. As a professor, he balanced instruction well with conceptual autonomy. As my graduate assistantship supervisor, he gave me insight as to how to effectively manage a studio and gave me ownership to certain tasks. His responsibilities as my faculty mentor did not end once I graduated, and I still turn to him for professional advice. Honestly, I model my own teaching after him, as it fosters independent thinking.”
While her work as an educator takes a lot of her time, Ma has never stopped creating her own art, which often combines traditional craft and modern methods of fabrication to examine the relationship between humans and their surrounding environment.
Ma’s work has been exhibited at many galleries throughout the country, including at the Metal Museum in Memphis Tennessee. Her museum and curatorial endeavors have extended as far as Sicily, Italy. She recently came back to her roots in DeKalb for a special exhibition at the Ellwood House Museum, which focused on the history of racism in the DeKalb area.
“I was asked to participate in that exhibition primarily because I know the museum well, after working there,” Ma said. “The exhibition focus broaches quite a sensitive topic—discussion of how the Ellwood family were direct participants to segregation and more. Discussions on these topics of race could easily become accusatory. I felt it was important to create a visual experience that would help relay the historical narrative, while also acknowledging these issues to advocate for change without bringing in more negativity.”
As an artist and educator, Ma is able to comment on culture and society while forming the next generation of artists. She has never regretted her nontraditional path to being an artist and art educator.
“I’m not so sure my undergraduate degree is still relevant to what I do now, but I have never regretted the path that I took,” she said. “An education in the sciences gave me an inherent work ethic that I was able to integrate into the arts. I was able to have a range of experiences outside of the arts, from shadowing neo-natal surgeons to bacteria research in a research lab. As an educator, having a broad range of experiences also helps with mentoring students who are unsure of what paths they want to take.”
This article originally appeared on the NIU Alumni Association website.