Prof. Wiskirchen at KAA

Please join us on Tuesday, February 5, 5:30 p.m. for the opening reception for Prof. Kelsey Wiskirchen's exhibition at the Kirksville Arts Association.  We hope to see you there!

Prof. Wiskirchen provided the following artist's statement about the exhibition and it appears on the KAA website.

Artist’s Statement by Kelsey Wiskirchen

"Cloth metaphors echo from many parts of the world, both today and in the past.  Social scientists and laypersons regularly describe society as fabric, woven or knit together.  Cloth as a metaphor for society, thread for social relations, express more than connectedness, however.  The softness and ultimate fragility of these materials capture the vulnerability of humans, whose every relationship is transient."

—Annette B. Weiner and Jane Schneider, Cloth and Human Experience, 1989

I am driven to engage in work done with others and which also has a tradition of bringing communities together.  In communities worldwide, women have found camaraderie and empowerment through the creation of textiles.  When I weave and sew, I become aware of my connection to people across cultures and to those who create textiles as an act of survival.  The repetitive nature of these processes allows me to reflect on time spent with others.  The work in this exhibition focuses on the role weaving has in contemporary societies: sharing stories, continuing tradition, and creating new opportunities for women.

When I was seven, my grandmother taught me how to embroider images onto cloth.  For practice, she drew on fabric with pencil and I stitched over her lines.  Around the same time, my mother taught me how to use her sewing machine.  When I was ready for different thread, she wound a new bobbin and re-threaded the machine for me because it was too complicated to remember.  The time these women spent teaching me to sew was focused not only on the physical task but was also a time for sharing stories.

Spending time with women in this way has become a parallel practice to my studio work.  During the past few years, I have had the opportunity to engage with women creating textiles in many places.  I wove with women at the Foundation for Senior Living in Tempe, Arizona, and as they worked, the women exchanged stories of their lives.  Their memories felt precious to me and are what first compelled me to document women’s stories.  Through this process, I realized that women everywhere have memories to preserve.  I spent time in Bolivia with Projecto Artesania Zona Andina (PAZA), a women’s weaving cooperative, and also with the Mapusha Weaving Cooperative in South Africa.  I have been deeply affected by the kindness of these women, their willingness to share time and stories, and their dedication to supporting their families through craft.  Women from my hometown of Kirksville, Missouri have written and shared memories of their own mothers, grandmothers, teachers, and other influential women in their lives.  Despite differences in location, language, and ways of working, the women who have shared with me all have much in common.  These women and stories are represented by this body of work.

Thread is a symbol of duality— representative of individual fragility and strength when woven into cloth.  In this work, it is a unifying factor serving as connection between the many women represented.  While each geography holds particularities, the creation of cloth is universal.  Through the materiality of thread and physical dimension of the stitched line, I hope to bring a sense of both the individual and the collective to this space.  The resulting tactile object documents a story that only existed in conversation and memory.  Transparency and layering symbolize the relationship that time and distance have on the memory of shared experience.

We are all dependent upon one another and on the world in which we live.  As time passes, some details fade from memory.  In this way, true stories are fundamentally delicate.  They become more fragile and more precious with time.  There is poetry in the truth of sharing conversation, laughter, and time with others.  The power of cooperative efforts is a solution to many of today’s global problems.  My purpose is to examine the experiences women share: stories, skills, and traditions passed on to younger generations.


Visiting Artists, Public Talks, Gallery Openings!

It's an exciting week in the Art Department with lots going on.

The Art Department and University Art Gallery are hosting two visiting artists this week, Prof. Peter Fine  and Prof. Carmen Gimenez Smith, both from New Mexico State University.  Prof. Fine is a designer and maker of collage who emphasizes green design and design history in his work.  His collaborator, Prof. Gimenez Smith, is a poet who also won an American Book Award for her memoir "Bring Down the Little Birds".

They will be installing some collages with lyric essays in the Side Gallery, will each visit some classes, and then there will be some key events on Thursday, January 24:

  • 12:00 Noon:  informal brown-bag lunch & talk in the University Art Gallery (OP 1114)
  • 5:00 p.m.:  a reading and further discussion of art, University Art Gallery (OP 1114)
  • 6:00 p.m.  exhibition opening, University Art Gallery (OP 1114)

Also opening that day in the main gallery is an exhibition of work by three Art Department faculty members:  Prof. Jamie Bates (Ceramics), Prof. Aaron Fine (Gallery Director, Painting, Foundations), and Prof. Priya Kambli (Photography).  Stay tuned for more information about Prof. Bates' talk about the exhibition (Tuesday, February 19 at 6:00 p.m.)

As always, all of these events are free and open to the public.  Hope to see you there!


Students selected for “Strong Foundations”

Congratulations to the following Art majors who had their work selected and chose to exhibit last semester for the "Strong Foundations" exhibition in the University Art Gallery.  For that exhibition, faculty select work from the four courses in the Foundations program (Drawing I, Design I, Drawing II, and Design II) that they feel is of particularly high quality and demonstrates some of the best work done in the classes during that semester.

Congratulations, all!

Artists in "Strong Foundation", December 2012

Kristen Williams, Lauren Moll, Alison Abbenhaus, Katie Brewer, Arayna White, Allison Behm, Carly Winchell, Kathryn Sutton, Danielle Naeger, Curtis Leung, Jeannie Dailey, Elizabeth Williamson, Rachel Finney                   

Art Alumna Wins Missouri Art Educator Award

We were thrilled to hear from Art Department alumna, Susan R. Elson, that she was seleted by her peers to win the Missouri Art Education Association's "Missouri Art Educator of the Year" award.  Ms. Elson will receive the award at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) National Convention in Fort Worth Texas this coming March.    We will include the press release from the National Art Education Association below.  Congratulations, Susan!

If you are an alum and have news to share with us, please contact us at


Susan R. Elson (1984) is selected as Missouri Art Education Association Art Educator of the Year. Susan Elson lives in Linneus, Missouri with her husband Greg (1983), who teaches at Kirksville Middle School. They are both graduates of NMSU (Truman State University).  Having sent her two children, Michael and Rachel off to college she is now dedicated to teaching and doing her own art. 

She has taught in the Chillicothe School District for 13 years, this being her 28th year in education. As a classroom teacher, Susan is known for engaging students in experiencing art in a deep and meaningful way, while respecting and encouraging their creative growth and development. Susan's  students participate in art shows and competitions both at the local and state levels. Her students also participate in the international humanitarian effort, the Memory Project. 

 She has been very active in the Missouri Art Education Association, having served as a council member for several years before assuming the Presidency from 2006-2008.  Under Susan’s leadership, the Association saw its student membership increase, communications become more streamlined and efficient, and volunteerism increase as she provided opportunities and encouraged members to become more involved.

Susan continued that passion onto the National level, having participated in Western Region activities and committees, presenting at National conventions, and running for office. She currently advocates on behalf of Missouri art educators as a Past President and Student and First Year chair.

Susan is also an accomplished practicing visual artist, actively participating in shows and juried exhibitions. Her one-woman show Exhibition of Souls featured  paintings and sculptures.  Most notably having  had a painting exhibited at the Albright Kemper Museum of Art, winning an Honorable Mention for her work.