Video: NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts – Where Creativity Thrives

Video: NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts – Where Creativity Thrives

NIU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) is comprised of three schools, each with award-winning educational programs, exciting performances and exhibits, and outstanding art studios, theatres, practice spaces and concert halls. Students have the opportunity to explore their creativity while receiving support and guidance from our world-renowned faculty.

Famous musicians, artists, actors, dancers and educators are among CVPA’s distinguished alumni. To learn more about how you can start your path to success in the arts, visit our school websites.

If you have general questions about our college, our staff is ready to help.

Spring 2019 College of Visual and Performing Arts Schedule of Performances and Exhibitions

Spring 2019 College of Visual and Performing Arts Schedule of Performances and Exhibitions

Check out the 2019 spring schedule of performances and exhibitions at the Northern Illinois University College of Visual and Performing Arts.  Every year, the Schools of Art and Design, Music, and Theatre and Dance put on nearly 300 open to the public performances, concerts, exhibitions and lectures.

This arts events schedule also includes handy links to ticket information for performances in both music and theater.

School of Music

Spring Concert Schedule

School of Music Concerts

Jazz Series
presented by DeKalb Sycamore Cadlillac
World Music Series Choral and Opera Series Concert Band and Percussion Series presented by First National Bank Orchestra and String Series
presented by WNIU/WNIJ
Feb. 19 – Jazz Combo Fest, 6:30 pm, House Café Apr. 7 – Steelpan Studio, University Steelband and CSA Steelband, 3 pm, BMCH Feb. 25 – Concert Choir, 8 pm, BMCH  Feb. 27 – Wind Symphony, 8 pm, BMCH  Feb. 14 – Avalon String Quartet, 8 pm, RH 
Mar. 6 – University Jazz, 8 pm, BMCH Apr. 10 – Chinese Music Ensemble, 6:30 pm, RH  Mar. 5 – University Chorus, 8 pm, BMCH  Feb. 28 – Wind Ensemble, 8 pm, BMCH  Feb. 20 – NIU Philharmonic, 8 pm, BMCH
Apr. 9 – Jazztet, 6:30 pm, House Café Apr. 11 – Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, 6:30 pm, RH  Mar. 29 – Opera Theatre, 8 pm, BMCH  Apr. 15 – Percussion Ensemble, 8 pm, BMCH  Apr. 3 – Composers Concert, 8 pm, RH
Apr. 11 – Jazz Orchestra, 8 pm, BMCH Apr. 12 – World Music Fusion, 6:30 pm, RH  Mar. 31 – Opera Theatre, 3 pm, BMCH  Apr. 18 – Wind Ensemble, 8 pm, BMCH Apr. 9 – Avalon String Quartet, 8 pm, RH
Apr. 16 – Jazz Combo Fest, 6:30 pm, House Café Apr. 14 – World Music Concert, 3 pm, BMCH Apr. 25 – University Chorus, 8 pm, BMCH   Apr. 22 – Wind Symphony, 8 pm, BMCH Apr. 28 – “Defiant Requiem,” 3 pm, BMCH
Apr. 17 – Latin Jazz Dance Party, 8 pm, BMCH Apr. 21 – NIU Steelband, 3 pm, BMCH Apr. 28 – “Defiant Requiem”, 3 pm, BMCH    
Apr. 23 – Jazz Ensemble, 8 pm, BMCH  
  Locations: BMCH – Boutell Memorial Concert Hall // RH – Recital Hall
House Café • 263 E. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb
  Tickets: $5 for adults and seniors
$3 for students
  Ticket information

School of Theatre and Dance

Spring Performance Schedule

School of Theatre and Dance Fall Performances


The Revolutionists, by Lauren Gunderson
Feb. 6-10
Showtimes: Wednesday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
Presented by WNIU/WNIJ
Feb. 27 – March 3
Showtimes: Wednesday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Wonderfully Alice
Apr. 3-7
Showtimes: Thursday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Spring Dance: Le Corsaire
Apr. 25-28
Showtimes: Thursday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Studio Series

Boy, by Andrea Ziegler
Feb. 13-17
Showtimes: Wednesday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Seven Ways to Say I Love You, by Adam Szymkowicz
March 20-24, 2019
Showtimes: Wednesday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

BFA-MFA Showcase
Apr. 10-14
Showtimes: Wednesday through Saturday 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Ticket information


Exhibitions and Lectures in the School of Art and Design and Art Museum

Jack Olson Gallery Exhibitions

February 8 – 22
Annual Juried Blick Art Materials Ars Nova Exhibition
Annual juried exhibition featuring works by current NIU School of Art and Design students.
Reception, Juror’s Talk, Award Presentation: February 15, 12:30-2:00
Annual Juried exhibition featuring works by current NIU School of Art and Design students. Exhibition sponsored by Blick Art Materials. March 7 – April 18 (gallery closed March 9-17 for spring break)

March 11 – 15
Carlos Melian- “UNTITLED (Simple Acts)” & Gina Lee Robbins “Material Alchemy: Cobbling with Clay and Found Materials”
Art by Carlos Melian and Gina Lee Robbins. Reception and gallery talks: Thursday March 7, 5:-6:30pm.
The genesis for each work in Untitled (Simple Acts) is the simple act of creating an abstract image based on recognizable forms, dividing basic geometric shapes, or extending a painting beyond its traditional boundaries.

Gina Lee Robbins Material Alchemy: Cobbling with Clay and Found Materials Material Alchemy is comprised of ceramic wall installations and free standing sculpture that incorporate found artifacts from both the built and natural worlds.

April 25 – May 9
BFA Show
Capstone exhibition showcasing works by students earning NIU School of Art and Design BFA Degrees.

The gallery is located on the second floor of the Visual Arts Building on the east end of the NIU campus and is handicapped accessible. Campus parking is free week days after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends.
Limited meter parking is available on Gilbert Drive.
Gallery Hours : Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday: 10 a.m. – noon

Elizabeth Allen Visiting Speakers in Art History Alumni Series

Monday, Feb. 4, Jack Arends Hall room 100, 5 p.m.
Samuel Dodd, Assistant Professor, Ohio University
“All Eyes on Space: An Architectural History of Television:

Tuesday, March 26, Jack Arends Hall room 100, 5 p.m.
Rhonda Taube, Professor and Chair, Department of Art and Art History, Riverside City College
“Xena Warrior Princess Meets Efrain Rios Montt: Contemporary Maya dance and Pop Culture Imagery in Highland Guatemala”

NIU Art Museum

Mar. 28 – May 17
Data: BIG/~driven/Visualized…
This compendium of program and display delves into the array of manner in which surrounds us, impacts us, and is interpreted.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor of Altgeld Hall.


An electronic version of the 2019 Spring Arts Schedule

Season’s Greetings from the College of Visual and Performing Arts

Season’s Greetings from the College of Visual and Performing Arts

Season’s greetings from everyone in the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts, including the School of Art and Design, School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, Community School of the Arts and the NIU Art Museum.

You can make a difference

The annual financial support of NIU alumni and friends helps the College of Visual and Performing Arts provide critical support for student and faculty travel, visiting artists and experiential learning opportunities.

Please consider a year-end gift to help fuel the dreams of students like the: 

From $5 to $5,000, every gift matters.

Kassel: In my city — A trip to After School Matters

Kassel: In my city — A trip to After School Matters

Paul Kassel, Dean, NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts

What do glass blowing, drum lines, poetry slams and jazz band have in common?  They are all programs in After School Matters, a Chicago Public School initiative that has been around since 2000.  Originally the brainchild of Maggie Daley and begun as an internship program at Gallery 37, ASM now offers 23,000 programs for 15,000 unique teens every year.

On October 11, I visited several of these programs, accompanied by Dr. Kryssi Staikidis (Art Education) and two of her students, Savanna Miska and Meagan Kirkwood.  We were hosted by NIU School of Music graduate, Randiss Hopkins, who is the Program Specialist for schools on the west side of town.

We began at the Phoenix Military Academy on Campbell Avenue, where we visited the Advanced Art program and the Major Adams Drum and Bugle Corps.

Teens in the Advanced Art Program at Phoenix bolster skills towards creating a professional portfolio in fine art and or design. Teens enrolled in AP Drawing or AP 2D design receive instruction and support towards completing the requirements laid out by the College Board to receive AP credits.

Teens in the Major Adams Hornets Drum and Bugle Corps develop skills through training in music, dance, marching and maneuvering.

Kryssi Staikidis and Randiss Hopkins

Kryssi Staikidis, Professor of Art Education at NIU and Randiss Hopkins, Program Specialist, After School Matters

The art students were working on 3D design on desktop computers coached by Daniel McElgunn and Jamal Williams.  They were working on a program designed to “melt” the picture they were working on.  What really struck me was that many of the pictures they were working on showed the artist engaged in some other art form.  One young man was “melting” a picture of himself playing keyboards.  A young woman was “melting” a picture of herself dancing.  I was really dazzled by what they were accomplishing and delighted at their love of different art forms.  Like our students in CVPA, they are boundless!

The teens in the drum line we visited were all raw (but very eager) beginners.  Their teacher, Bruce Wilkerson, was tough but inspiring. He is not only a teacher, but a working artist, playing drums and bass guitar for many rock bands and in recording sessions.  Mr. Wilkerson felt it was critical to pass his knowledge down to these young people and instill in them the discipline that is required in drum and bugle corps.  The teens then treated us to a short example of some rhythms they were working on.  Using just two drumsticks, the beat out a sophisticate rhythm on the back of chairs.  Art is where you find it and make it!

We headed out to Lake Street to visit Glassworks, an amazing facility where students get to work with molten glass with ovens heated to over 2100 degrees!  Students were being taught to “gather” glass from the ovens, with the goal of creating a bird paperweight.  It was astonishing how deft the artist was in handling molten glass, but more impressive was how game the teens were.  Glass-making is a beautiful art form, and After School Matters makes it accessible for any student who wants to give it a try.

NIU Visit to After Schoo Matters

My visit to
After School Matters

Savanna Miska, Undergraduate Art Education Major

On the evening of October 11, Meagan Kirkwood, another Art Education Major and I had the opportunity to attend the After School Matters program in Chicago with its outstandingly passionate and knowledgeable leaders Randiss Hopkins and Chris Nergaard as well as Northern Illinois University’s Dean Paul Kassel and Dr. Kryssi Staikidis.

After School Matters is a program that encourages students to pursue the joy of creating various types of art, such as language arts, music, and visual arts, after the school day is over. The program has multiple locations in Chicago and we were able to experience five of the wonderful classes at four of the locations.

We began our journey at Phoenix Military Academy where we discussed the academic goals of the students, such as building a professional portfolio, in Phoenix Advanced Art while students worked on projects in Photoshop where they learned about the significance of blurring areas of photographs and applied it to their own images as pieces to add to their portfolio as they worked toward developing the skills needed to attain AP requirements.

Then we traveled downstairs and listened to the MACC Hornets Performing Arts, a drum and bugle corps, perform their diligently practiced routine that displayed the students’ high level skills.

After feeling inspired by the students at the school campus, we traveled to the private studio Glassworks in the heart of the city where students were given the opportunity to learn how the glass-making process works by the studio’s passionate and engaging artists.

I have never seen glassmaking done in person and the experience took my breath away. Being surrounded in a studio space that truly warms your soul is invigorating.

Once we watched a demonstration about how to create a bird out of glass, we trekked to Leif Ericson School where we were all greeted by the student leader of Colored Girls are Cover Girls.

The student’s shared impassioned poems filled with energy and were constantly motivated by their peer’s ongoing support. Their poems were unashamedly passionate and told stories about issues related to inner-city teenage girls as a means to educate their peers and community members.

At our last stop of the evening, the Garfield Park Golden Dome, students with Berklee City Music played a song for us that they were learning. They use cutting edge curriculum formulated through Berklee PULSE which helps teens reach their goals to attended music programs in higher education. It was at this moment in the night where I became flooded by my emotions due to the hardworking students and struggled to introduce myself because I was so taken over by their inspiring efforts to achieve anything and everything imaginable.

Without an ounce of doubt in my mind, After School Matters is a program dedicated to assisting students achieve mastery levels and it was evident in my experience attending five of the classes offered by the program that it is effective.

This program has been rapidly growing in Chicago, and Northern Illinois University plans to create opportunities where future artists, musicians, art educators, and music educators can work with After School Matters to establish life long lasting relationships and professional career development.

Teaming with a program as passionate as After School Matters communicates to students at Northern Illinois University that valuing education and community is essential to growth.

From Glassworks, we headed over to the Garfield Park area, first to Leif Ericson School and the Colored Girls are Cover Girls group.  CGCG (and their male counterparts, Urban Sons Speak Life) are led by Patti Barnes, Anastasia Baker and Morris Garrett (MoeMentum) to work on spoken word performance.

Colored Girls are Cover Girls utilizes poetry, spoken word, theater, music and other forms of cultural expression as means to create change, impact lives, build relationships and stimulate growth among teenage girls of color. Teens learn to write creatively, passionately, powerfully and unashamedly and use their stories as valuable tools to educate their peers and communities on issues directly relating to inner-city teenage girls such as: violence, absent fathers, body image, adolescent sexual health and interpersonal communication.

Being a theater person, I introduced myself with the first four lines of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 162” (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds…”)  I was very proud to get some “snaps” for that.  But the real stars were the young people who shared their original work.  They opened up and revealed some intensely personal experiences—harrowing and heroic.  Two young men did a kind of duet, with the repeated refrain, “in my city.”  When they finished, there was a moment of silence and then the room erupted into applause and snaps.  But then their teacher did a spontaneous improvised response, using the same refrain.  When he finished, the teacher and the young poet he spoke to hugged and the crowd went wild.  We four visitors from NIU were deeply moved.

We ended our visit with a trip just down the block to the Garfield Park Golden Dome.  If you haven’t been to this building, go!  Originally administrative buildings for the West Park Commission, it now hosts a multitude of programs, including the Berklee Initiative/Business of Music.

Berklee City Music engages teens in a music education program designed to prepare them to pursue higher education and reduce specific music-related achievement gaps. This is achieved with the Berklee PULSE method, a cutting-edge curriculum centered around present-day music styles which teaches theoretical, listening, improvisational, and performance skills.

Howard Sandifer, Darlene Sandifer, and Wilbert Crosby led the students through a complex arrangement that included strings, winds, guitar, drums, and a vocal quartet.  We listened to them rehearse a particular passage until they got it just right.  I was invited to speak to the group and took a lot of great and probing questions.  What I learned is how hungry these students are for knowledge, how ambitious they are about their futures, and how ready they are to take the next steps.

After School Matters is an important and impressive program.  I came away quite moved by the experience, and excited to see how we can develop stronger partnership with their programs.  I am now in discussion about developing internships for our Music and Art education students, both during the summer and regular school year.  In addition, I’m hoping NIU and CVPA can help these ambitious and talented students realize their dreams and join our engaged, inclusive, boundless and strong programs!

Paul Kassel is the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University, which is comprised of the School of Art and Design, the School of Music and the School of Theatre and Dance.