Monday, February 29, 2016

Kansas People's History Project at Pitt State

In the Art Connectors Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of Porter Hall, there is a new exhibition featuring the work of Pitt State art students. The Kansas People's History Project includes the work of fourteen undergraduate students who were enrolled in Assistant Professor Emi Gennis' Hand Lettering for Illustration and Comics class during the fall semester. Their broadsides highlighting overlooked aspects of Kansas history were part of a larger, state-wide art project lead by artist David Loewenstein. The description of the project below is from the project website,

"Kansas has remarkable stories, but many of them are not widely known or taught in our schools. The Kansas People’s History Project (KPHP) will begin to address this gap by making history present and visible in our everyday lives. Inspired by Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking book “A People’s History of United States” which examined history “from the bottom up,” the KPHP will focus on the creation of a series of screen printed broadsides with text narratives, a comprehensive website, and an exhibition that shine a light on lesser known but greatly influential figures and events from Kansas’s past.
From the many Tribal nations that have called (and continue to call) this place home to the stories of Suffragettes, outsider artists, Civil Rights activists and countless others who have helped shape the story of Kansas, this project will celebrate the integral role these often overlooked groups have had in the making of Kansas history."

Associate Professor of Art Education Josie Mai has worked with the artist Dave Loewenstein on other community art projects and invited him to Pittsburg State University this fall to give a workshop related to the Kansas People's History Project. It was at this workshop that Gennis decided to get her class involved by assigning the broadsides as the final project for the course. "It was the perfect opportunity to apply the skills combining lettering and imagery that they acquired during the course, in addition to emphasizing other skills, such as visual research, that are an important part of artistic growth," she said. Loewenstein returned to campus later in the semester to give an additional workshop to the class, and the students also attended a presentation from librarians at the Axe Library about the Kansas-related content of the library's Special Collections. 

Loewenstein traveled to Pitt State again on February 18th to participate as the keynote speaker for the Pittsburg State University Museum of Art's IDEA Series, an annual lecture series that this year was built on the theme "Collective Memory." During his lecture, Loewenstein showed the audience screen printed version's of Gennis' work as well as student Mattie Parrigon's work and invited them to speak (video below).

Emi Gennis speaking about her work and class during the IDEA Series.
Posted by Pittsburg State University Museum of Art on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mai, who curates exhibitions that engage the community in the Art Connectors Gallery, felt that the Kansas People's History Project was a perfect fit for the space. "The nature of the project fits with the Art Connectors Community Gallery mission of exhibiting art and projects generated by and featuring the wider Pittsburg region," she said. A Family Art Day event, to be held on April 9th from 2-4pm, will give Pittsburg citizens the opportunity to participate in an open mic; a small stage and microphone will be set up for people of all ages to present their own Kansas stories. 

Mai hopes the exhibition will serve as an inspiration for other students. "I hope students see the power of visually bringing unsung heroes and stories to life," she said. "Artists used to be advocates. Artists used to be rebels. This can still happen. I hope the community can celebrate these unsung heroes, appreciate the power of the arts to educate, and evaluate those heroes' influences on the very land they are raising their own families today."

The Kansas People's History Project exhibition, featuring student work presented alongside research material and preliminary sketches, will run until April 9th. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 8:00am – 9:30pm and Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm. An online gallery of all the broadsides submitted to the Kansas People's History Project from artists across the state can be found at

Monday, February 22, 2016

Student Spotlight: Molly McVey

As part of our new "Student Spotlight" series, the Pittsburg State University Department of Art blog will be periodically highlighting the work of one of our students. This week, we're featuring the work of Molly McVey, a senior 2D Studio Art major and Photography minor who comes to us from Overland Park, KS. As part of her educational program here at Pitt State, Molly participated in an internship at Kelly Jackson Photography. Recently, Molly's work was accepted into the exhibition for the annual PhotoSpiva competition at the Spiva Center for the Arts. 

Department of Art: What was your path to pursuing an art degree at Pitt State? What got you interested in art?

Molly McVey: The reason that I choose Pittsburg State to study art is because I liked the size of the department and how small the classes are and that you really get to know your professors and other students.

What got me interested in art was being involved in 4-H when I was younger.  Instead of showing cows, goats, or sheep, I entered into the art categories such as photography, painting, drawing, and ceramics. That is where my interests started with art and it grew from there. I took as many art classes as I could in high school and that is where I started to consider a career in art. My high school photography teacher and my drawing/painting teacher inspired me to pursue art in college, and I couldn’t be happier that I am studying it at Pitt.

DA: Tell us about your work. What type of work do you most enjoy creating? How would you define your artistic style?

MM: My photography recently has been in black and white. I have switched back and forth between color and black and white through the years, but I always seem to come back to black and white. I feel that it tells more of a story and there is more emotion within the photographs. I really enjoy combining and merging photos together to make something new. I will also place textures into my photos where they normally wouldn’t belong. I would define my artistic style to be somewhere between abstract and straight photography. 

DA: What class at Pitt State has had the biggest affect on the way you approach your work?

MM: The class that has impacted my work the most would be the studio critique classes. It has taught me to look at my work from different points of view. I appreciate getting feed back from the all the professors in the department. It is interesting to hear what they have to say about my work and the different ways that I can improve it.

DA: Tell us about a project you completed recently that you were really proud of. Where did you get your initial idea or inspiration, and how did the project develop over time? Describe your process. 

MM: A project that I have recently completed that I am extremely proud of would be my final project for my Portrait Photography class that I took at the tech center this past fall. We were able to do any creative shot that we wanted and I decided to take cubism as my inspiration. I researched many different ways to create a cubist style in photography and I ended up putting my own spin on it. I used one image as my base and then built onto it with different images from different perspectives of the same person. This project has opened a whole new set of doors for me. I am planning on working with this style throughout this semester, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

DA: Who are some artists that inspire you? What is it about their work that you find compelling?

MM: A couple artists that have recently inspired me are Jerry Uelsmann and Sean Kernan. Uelsmann is known for merging images together and I find it interesting that he is able to combine images together, but still make them seem effortless and simple. This goes for Kernan also, his images are very simple, but can convey a strong story with a few images combined together. 

DA: What is an experience you've had at Pitt State that has changed the way you think about art?

MM: An experience that I’ve had that has changed the way I think about art is going to the artists’ lectures of those who have shown in the galleries. Being able to hear how professional artists have created their work and their experiences in the art world has really changed the way I view and think and about art. 

DA: Tell us about your experience participating in the internship program. Where and when did your internship take place, and how did it come about?

MM: I enjoyed doing the internship program a lot. It has helped me prepare for life after graduation. There are a lot of responsibilities that come along with the program, like the weekly blog posts and the paper work that has to be filled out by your employer, professor, and yourself.

I did my internship with Kelly Jackson Photography. Kelly Jackson took my older sisters high school senior portraits and she took mine as well. I decided to e-mail her and see if she did any type of internship or shadowing program and thankfully she did! She also agreed to do the program so that I could get college credit for it. I worked with her for half of the summer and then into the Fall 2015 semester to receive all three credit hours for the course.

DA: What was the most challenging aspect of your internship? What was the most fun?

MM: The most challenging aspect of my internship was getting used to the long days and early start times, but Kelly was so much fun to work with. She was always showing me knew ways to edit photos and how to take certain shots during photo shoots. I can’t wait to work with her again this summer!

Barn Cat
DA: Tell us about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

MM: After graduation I am planning on moving back to the Kansas City/Overland Park area and finding a job in the photography field. I would like to be a photo retoucher for a company or a photographer’s assistant. 

DA: What projects are you working on right now that is outside of coursework?

MM: I am currently working on my portfolio by refining it and making it stronger as a whole. I want to have a strong piece to show future employers when I start to look and interview for jobs in the coming semesters.

DA: Where's the best place to see more of your work online?

MM: The best place to see more of my work would be my website,

Monday, February 15, 2016

"Collective Memory" IDEA Series To Take Place February 18th

Each year the Museum of Art at Pittsburg State University selects certain exhibits from its programming season to highlight through an interdisciplinary event entitled the IDEA Series (Interdisciplinary Education Through the Arts Series). This event is intended to generate discussion based on ideas suggested by the artwork from a variety of viewpoints. Join us on February 18, 2016 as we celebrate the extraordinary research and personal stories of faculty and local community members connected to this year's theme “Collective Memory,” inspired by two Pittsburg State University Museum of Art exhibitions:  
  • Collective Fusion will be displayed in Porter Hall’s Harry Krug Gallery from January 22 -April 62016. The Museum of Art celebrates the wide-ranging talents of faculty, staff, and Friends of Museum with an exhibit, “Collective Fusion.” 
  • Kansas People’s History Project will be on display from January 22 – April 7, 2016. Please visit Kansas History Project’s website for additional information about the project:
The IDEA Series has an incredible lineup of speakers. Mark your calendar for February 18, 2016. The presentations will take place throughout the day in the Overman Student Center's Sunflower Room with a reception to follow at 4pm in Porter Hall's Harry Krug Gallery. 

9:30 - Welcome 
10:00 – Olive Sullivan
10:30 - 10:50 - Xiaolu Wu 
11:00 - 11:20 - JT Knoll 
11:30 - 11:50 - Norman H. PhilippS. Portico Bowman
12:00 – LUNCH
1:00 – 1:20 - Steve Cox
1:30 – 1:50 - Don Viney
2:00 – 2:20 - Megan L. Bever
2:30 – 2:50 - James Greene
3:00 – 3:30 - Keynote: Dave Loewenstein
4:00 – Reception for IDEA Series, Collection Fusion & Kansas People's History Project exhibitions @ Harry Krug Gallery

Further information about the IDEA Series and the speakers will be posted at: and

For more information: Rhona McBain at (620) 235 – 4296 or

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pitt State Art Students and Alumna Exhibit Work in PhotoSpiva Competition

The Department of Art at Pittsburg State University would like to congratulate two students, Molly McVey and Jessica Purevich, and a recent alumna, Rebekah Parrish, on having their work accepted into the exhibition for the annual Spiva Center for the Art's PhotoSpiva competition. Works displayed in this year's exhibition were selected from a field of 664 images by 119 photographers; only 101 were selected.

Project by Rebekah Parrish
Established in 1977, PhotoSpiva is the longest-running competition of its kind. As stated by the founders, the objective of PhotoSpiva is to “present an exhibition of excellence in photography, celebrating the scope and vigorous activity of today’s contemporary photographers.” Spiva, located in Joplin, MO, is an independent community arts center whose mission is to promote the arts, nurture creative expression, and stimulate and educate diverse audiences within the four-state region.

Perspectives by Molly McVey
This year's juror, Sean Kernan, is a widely exhibited photographer, writer, and teacher. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, New York, Harpers, Bloomberg, Communication Arts, Graphis, Polyrama (Switzerland), Photo World (China), as well as magazines in Iran, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland, and has done a wide range of advertising work for clients such as AT&T, Amex, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Dow Jones, Harvard, and Knoll. Kernan has taught and lectured at the New School/Parsons, Art Center (Pasadena), Yale Medical School, American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), International Center of Photography (ICP), University of Texas, Wesleyan University, and both the Maine and Santa Fe Workshops. He has won numerous awards, most recently an Honorary Doctorate from Art Center in Pasadena.

Noxious Taraxacum by Jessica Purevich
The exhibition at the Spiva Center for the Arts Main Gallery will be open between March 5th and May 1st. Exhibited photographs will be available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds supporting Spiva. An awards ceremony, where winning competitors will be announced and awarded cash prizes, will be held at 7:00pm on Friday, March 11th. Following the presentation, juror Sean Kernan will deliver a lecture. This event will be open to the public, with $10 admission.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Collective Fusion: Collective Memory in the Harry Krug Gallery

A new exhibition was recently installed in the Harry Krug Gallery in Porter Hall. Collective Fusion: Collective Memory features work created by Pittsburg State University faculty and staff, and Friends of the Museum of the Pittsburg State University Museum of Art. The works installed from the gallery come from all areas of campus. While Collective Fusion is a recurring exhibition, this year's theme "Collective Memory" adds a new angle to the show. Collective Fusion: Collective Memory seeks to connect the experiences of individuals within our community to create a larger, interconnected narrative. 

This exhibit showcases the wide-ranging hidden talents and creativity of our colleagues. This will be the first exhibition for many of the artists. Some of the pieces featured in the show include quilted works by administrative assistant Sally Nixon, photographs by Assistant Professor of Graphics and imaging Technologies Rion Huffman, painting by Professor and Chair of Communications and Interim Chair of Art Dr. Cynthia Allan, and 3D printed sculpture by Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology Dr. David Miller. Some of the artists created their work in Porter Hall at a Faculty and Staff Art Making Night hosted by the Museum of Art. At this event, faculty and staff were invited to create collage works inspired by artist Cory Peeke, whose work was displayed in the University Gallery in the fall. 

Collective Fusion: Collective Memory  will be used as a point of inspiration for this year's IDEA (Interdisciplinary Education through the Arts) Series, which will take place on February 18, from 9:30am to 4:00pm in the Sunflower Room of the Overman Student Center. This interdisciplinary lecture series will feature presenters from several different disciplines across the campus and community, who will speak on the subject of "Collective Memory" as it relates to their area of expertise. The reception for this exhibition will be February 18th at 4:00, immediately following the lecture series, in the Harry Krug Gallery.

This exhibition will remain in the Harry Krug Gallery through April 7, 2016. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m and Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.