Posts from April, 2014

Jean Gumpper, Mellon Artist-in-Residence, Creates Interdisciplinary Opportunities for Students

By Erin Ravin ’08

ChemistryThroughout the spring semester, Colorado College students participated in a variety of interdisciplinary workshops with the Art Department’s Mellon Artist-in-Residence Jean Gumpper. Gumpper’s goal is to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversation through visual art, as evidenced by her work with Assistant Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Andy Wowor’s General Chemistry class; Associate Art Professor Tamara Bentley’s Print Culture & International Contact class, and English Professor Jane Hilberry’s Beginning Poetry Writing.

Gumpper’s collaboration began in Block 5 with an art and chemistry workshop in the Art Department’s print shop.  During this workshop, Gumpper, with the help of several senior art studio majors and art department staff members Erin Ravin ’08, Heather Oelklaus, and Eleanor Anderson, demonstrated several printmaking processes.  Wowor then continued this exploration with an in-depth description of what specifically happens at the molecular level during each step of the printmaking process.  Students saw examples of etching, lithography, photopolymer plates, and cyanotypes.  Once the chemistry students understood the chemistry and the process, they each created small etchings that fit together into a large image of a protein dimer. Said one chemistry student, “The workshop increased my understanding of chemistry applications because it allowed me to see that the material we learned in class can be used in a wide variety of ways, such as to produce artwork, and that chemistry branches out to other subjects rather than just being contained to performing reactions in a lab.”

Chemistry 2Also in Block 5 Gumpper worked collaboratively with a variety of people, including Bentley, Professor of Japanese Joan Ericson, Laurence Kominz , a visiting professor with the Theatre and Drama Department and a specialist in Japanese theatre, IDEA Space Curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen, Assistant to the IDEA Space Curator Briget Hiedmous, and Art Department Paraprofessional Ravin.  They planned a small exhibition and brochure of Japanese actor woodcuts from the Colorado College print collection, which was open during theatre performances by students in Kominz’s Japanese Studies: Performing Kabuki in English course.  Students from Bentley’s Print Culture and International Contact course also met with Gumpper to discuss the woodcut prints.  Gumpper demonstrated the woodblock printing techniques, Bentley discussed historical and cultural aspects of the prints, and both joined the students in studying the original woodcut prints and discussing their connections with Kabuki theatre.

During Block 6, Hilberry and Gumpper combined their Beginning Poetry Writing and Introduction to Drawing classes in a collaborative writing and drawing project. Students began by individually researching for texts—visual or written—that showed how artists and poets depict water. They took written and visual notes on how a variety of artists and poets approach the problem of depicting or employing this symbolically loaded element.  Individually and together they created both visual and written studies within specific parameters. Then, based on the preparatory work they had done, each small group curated an exhibit, book and/or performance that synthesized and showcased their work for the class. “Having other people from a different discipline [poetry] to bounce ideas off of was beneficial and enlightening-their perspective added richness and depth to the artist’s work and vice versa,” said one student participant.

In Block 7, Jean Gumpper presented a lecture that was free and open to the public titled “Cross Currents,” describing her own artwork and these cross-disciplinary undertakings.
Chemistry 1

From Pro Hockey to Fundraising at CC, Preston Briggs Keeps His Perspective

Preston Briggs ATBBy Stephanie Wurtz

Congratulations to Preston Briggs, who was recently selected as major gift officer for Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region. He currently serves as leadership giving officer in the advancement division and started at CC in April 2013.

Briggs said characteristics he developed as a professional hockey player, most recently with the Bloomington Prairie Thunder, enhance his work in both his current and new role in advancement.

“In professional sports, every day could be your last day, and that’s still a good perspective to have; it taught me to celebrate the highs and acknowledge the lows, but to keep an even keel and focus.”

Briggs was traded four times in his first two years playing professional hockey, then had hip surgery after his second season and spent the off-season in intensive rehabilitation to be ready to play. It’s that persistence and work ethic he said carried into his career after hockey.

“It’s about building the relationship between the donor and the college and finding where they want to make their impact, then connecting with those opportunities.”

Born in Colorado Springs, Briggs said he was inspired by CC hockey, attending every home game.

“I don’t think I would’ve ever played hockey at all, let alone professionally, had I not been growing up here watching the CC Tigers play every season.”

As a Colorado Springs native, Briggs said he feels personally invested in the city. He wants to see the community grow and thrive, and sees potential in CC collaborations with the greater community. “We have a lot here [in Colorado Springs] to offer, if we use it. CC is one of those things. Not many 500,000 cities can boast one of the best liberal arts schools in the country.”

His new position focuses on major gifts to support scholarships, research opportunities, internships, specific departments, and other areas.

“What’s really exciting is I’ll be in a place to talk with our alumni, parents, and friends about what they dream Colorado College could be, asking the question,  ‘What does the best CC look like?’ ”

Briggs will officially move into his new role this spring. He will finish out the year by retaining his focus on leadership in annual giving. A search for his replacement will begin soon.

“Preston is a polished and articulate representative of the college. He was selected among a pool of very strong candidates to take the role vacated by Ron Rubin last year,” said Mark Hille, associate vice president for development.

Briggs and his wife, Amanda, met in college and now have a 13-month-old son, Davis.