‘Making a Mark’ documentary, faculty gallery continues Art 100 festivities

Category:  The Arts
Friday, October 4th, 2019 at 11:50 AM
‘Making a Mark’ documentary, faculty gallery continues Art 100 festivities by Nathan Brennan
EU President Dr. Guiyou Huang and students enjoy artwork and company at the Art Faculty Show in Bruce Gallery on Sept. 26. | Photo: Nathan Brennan

Highlighting a century of art excellence at Edinboro University, a special documentary premiere served to showcase how art faculty and alumni have truly made their mark, both locally and internationally.

“Making a Mark: 100 Years of Art,” featuring interviews and testimonials from alumni and retired faculty of the art program over the years, debuted on the big screen at the Louis C. Cole Auditorium on Sept. 26. The premiere was noted as the first major event in the year-long celebration of Art 100 at EU.

Before the premiere of the documentary, a reception was held in the courtyard of Doucette Hall, where faculty, alumni, students and benefactors socialized and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres while Broadway and jazz standards set the atmosphere. 

That atmosphere carried over into Bruce Gallery, where attendees could also walk about and enjoy the Edinboro Art Faculty Show, which featured the works of numerous art professors.

Before the documentary began, Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and co-chair of the Art 100 celebration, Dr. James Wertz, stressed the significance of the art department’s milestone, as well as the key role Edinboro’s new president, Dr. Guiyou Huang, played in making the celebration a success. 

“As in all times of change, you don’t know what to expect,” Wertz said. “He came and supported in every way that he could, because he understood how important the legacy of art [was] for Edinboro, the culture of art for Edinboro and what art means for the future of Edinboro.”

While Huang only became the president of the university over the summer, he believes the art department is “very impressive.”

“The faculty are very hard working and supportive,” said the president, noting the department’s “synergy” as a key part of what makes them successful.

His remarks to the crowd reflected this enthusiasm: “To all of the alumni, current students and future students, tonight we celebrate your successes and future opportunities.”

He continued, “To our retired faculty and current faculty, tonight we celebrate your legacy, and, most importantly, we honor your dedication to inspiring thousands of art students who have embraced the importance of art in our community and the rest of the world.”

Huang ended his speech simply, telling the audience, “Have a good night and enjoy the movie.”

The documentary includes interviews with over 25 alumni and faculty members, all of whom were hand-chosen by current faculty, Wertz and Julie Chacona (director of development in the university advancement office, co-chair of Art 100). They worked very closely with the team who produced the film, who also have Edinboro ties.

MenajErie Studio, a film production company based in Erie, is comprised of four creatives, with two of them being Edinboro graduates: Leah Taylor, editor and director, and Greg Happ, motion graphics and editor. In addition, according to Chacona, a good portion of the “B-roll” footage used in the film was shot by Edinboro film students.

She also pointed out some common threads from the documentary, which she felt defined the enduring success of the art program. One of these threads was a multi-disciplinary approach to art and art education, an approach that she believes makes students better artists.

This is a stance shared by Art Department Chairperson James Parlin. “Graduates from our programs go on to fulfilling careers in the arts and in art-related occupations, into teaching, and often into unexpected careers for which their art training, with its emphasis on creative problem-solving, has prepared them.”

Chacona stated, “Everyone defines success differently, and I think the film shows that our art alumni are successful no matter which career path they take.”

Another standout portion of the documentary features numerous success stories in which alumni were inspired by mentors while enrolled at Edinboro.

The most notable of these examples is LaToya Ruby Frazier, a 2004 EU graduate and photographer who has received numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts. While at Edinboro, she was taken under the wing of Kathe Kowalski, a former photography professor, who helped her realize her potential once she graduated.

Other graduates featured in the film include Jordan Koch (2012), who works at Nickelodeon, Jalil Sadool (2002), who worked on the movie “Avatar,” and Dave Filoni (1996), an animation director at Lucasfilm. In the documentary, they all mentioned how faculty helped make them better artists.

“When you look at the entire history [of the art department], that piece of the faculty and student relationship has not changed in 100 years,” said Chacona.

After a standing ovation at the conclusion of the film, all attendees were invited over to the lawn in front of Doucette Hall for “Video and Lightscape,” an event produced by EU art professor Brian Fuller and cinema students. The presentation featured music and projections of Edinboro art onto the outer wall of Doucette, serving as the conclusion of the evening’s events.

When looking to the future of the art department, Chacona stated, “[New students] are coming because of the reputation of the faculty and alumni,” as well as the “legacy of the program.”

A full list of events for Edinboro’s Art 100 year-long celebration can be found here.

Additional Photos:

The Art 100 logo sits at the corner of Meadville and East Normal streets. | Photo: Nathan BrennanEU President Dr. Guiyou Huang and students enjoy artwork and company at the Art Faculty Show in Bruce Gallery on Sept. 26. | Photo: Nathan BrennanEU President Dr. Guiyou Huang looks at a piece of art in the Bruce Gallery | Photo: Nathan BrennanMalcolm Christhilf's 'Plain Air #1-#4,' made with oil on canvas. | Photo: Nathan BrennanSue Amendolara's 'Shadows Past,' made of various materials on plywood. | Photo: Nathan BrennanErikka Spald's 'Fragments,' made with oil paint. | Photo: Nathan BrennanAn interactive piece of art by Darrin Simmons which attendees could draw on and sign. | Photo: Nathan BrennanDr. James Parlin, chairperson of the art department pictured center, socializing at the reception. | Photo: Nathan BrennanA view of the crowd in attendance for the documentary. | Photo: Nathan BrennanDr. James Wertz addressing the crowd before the documentary. | Photo: Nathan BrennanThe title card displayed in the documentary's introduction. | Photo: Nathan Brennan
Tags: art 100, edinboro

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