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By Leah Veldhuisen
Over the summer, CC student Geoffrey Hartley ’19 immersed himself in a program at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College in a way few students get to experience. Hartley filmed a documentary about the FAC’s Military Artistic Healing program, a program that currently has little student involvement. As a part of CC’s summer course the Colorado Documentary Project, a class conceived and taught by professors Dylan Nelson and Clay Haskell, Hartley learned about the documentary genre and how to film documentaries, and was able to make his own movie.
The course is a collaboration between CC’s Film and Media Studies program, Rocky Mountain PBS, and other Colorado organizations, and allowed students to do an externship with a local organization during the course. Hartley explains “after the week-long externship, everyone comes back to class and pitches an idea for a documentary inspired by our experiences.” Each student presented an idea to Rocky Mountain PBS, and then spent the rest of the class organizing, shooting, and editing a documentary. Hartley spent time at the Bemis School of Art and that’s where he learned about instructor Kim Nguyen’s art class for military veterans. “After hearing about the work that Nguyen was doing to provide a creative outlet for military veterans to express themselves and work through their PTSD, I knew that this was a story I wanted to share in my documentary,” Hartley says.
Because he saw art as a frequently overlooked therapy, Hartley says it was particularly important to portray it in film. He tried to highlight the positive impact painting has had on the lives of many Colorado Springs veterans, and the simplicity of art as therapy. Working on this project had a strong impact on Hartley. “I think the most important thing I learned from working with the Military Artistic Healing program,” he explains, “is how art works for each person differently. Everyone can find comfort, safety, or understanding through art, but it truly is an individualized experience and the meaning of art only exists through the individual.” While his documentary was about painting, Hartley also notes that “poetry, film, music, or countless other art forms can provide an outlet that might really help work through troubling issues.”
In addition to learning about this special program at the FAC, Hartley also gained a strong background in documentary filmmaking. All that he learned, Hartley feels, will be essential to pursuing a career in the film industry. View the full documentary, “Just Paint.“
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has been named the Best Gallery and Museum in Colorado, and one of the top 25 in the country by board of the American Art Awards.
Additionally, Don Coen’s exhibit of migrant workers, now on display at the museum and recently included in a Colorado College story, was featured April 8 on NBC Nightly News in a segment called “An Artist Paints the Nation’s Forgotten Migrants, One Canvas at a Time.”
Colorado College and the FAC are in the process of an historic alliance. The agreement between the two institutions calls for a four-year transition period to allow for careful planning and integration. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1 of this year, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
Maggie Mehlman ’19, Sophia Pray ’19, and Jilly Gibbs ’20 sit in front of a large painting of a man and woman with boxes of strawberries and fields in the distance, part of artist Don Coen’s visiting migrant series on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Pray tells a group of fourth- and fifth-graders from nearby Taylor Elementary School that she likes the painting because it reminds her of California, where she is from.
“That’s good,” Mehlman says of Pray’s explanation as to why she likes the painting. “She didn’t just say ‘I like it’ or ‘it makes me happy,’ but told us why. She provided evidence for her personal connection to the art.”
David Figel ’20, Ana Ortiz-Mejias ’19, and Emily Gardner ’19 tell the students to look at various paintings in the museum, asking them to find one they make a connection with. Prompts for connections include: Which piece of art reminds you of yourself? Someone you know? A place you have been? A time when you felt a strong emotion?
Students put their hand on their head when they find a piece of art they connect to, then share their connections with their classmates. As they sit in a circle on the museum floor, Figel asks them what they learned.
“We learn more about each other when we share connections,” one student replies.
“You can always learn something new about somebody,” says another.
The 13 Colorado College students working with the elementary-school children are in Associate Chair and Lecturer in Education Kris Stanec’s Power of the Arts course, one of CC’s community-based-learning classes. Intertwined with the class was a project called “Multiple Narratives,” which fosters engagement with art through a writing curriculum that begins with students making connections between themselves and a piece of art.
The project also seeks to validate and support individual’s various narratives and relationships to art. “My approach challenges the common dominant narrative of museum education, in which the museum has the knowledge and visitors come to listen.” Stanec says.
Stanec is the Spring 2017 Mellon Faculty Fellow for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Museum. The fellowship supports Stanec’s work developing a curriculum to bring together CC students, Colorado Springs School District 11 teachers and students, and FAC docents with the museum’s collections. The Mellon grant supports the development of the Colorado College and Fine Arts Center alliance, and provides funding for supplies such as art cards, schools’ transportation and museum admissions, and pays for the near para-professional assistance of Paige Harari ’17, who has worked closely with Stanec on the project.
Every day during the first two weeks of Block 6, Stanec’s class visited Taylor Elementary (full name: Alice Bemis Taylor Elementary, a serendipitous tie-in with the Fine Arts Center), working with the students in a series of writer workshops. There they used art cards, or photographs, of pieces in the FAC’s permanent collection as writing prompts, engaging students with the art before they even entered the museum. The connections the students made with the artwork generated ideas, or “seeds” for their narrative pieces.
In his combined class fourth- and fifth-grade class at Taylor Elementary, Kyle Gilliam stresses the importance of taking a seed and growing it into a small moment, or snapshot. Working with the children, CC students taking Stanec’s class remind them to use emotion, the five senses, similes, and metaphors in their writing. The result: One girl selects a photo of a Western scene and writes, “Bang, bang! I hear the sounds of gunshots in my ears. Popcorn bursts with flavor inside my mouth.” She explains that the painting reminds her of watching Western movies with her grandmother.
After the two weeks with the CC class, Gilliam says improvement in his students’ writing was clearly evident. “Students went from a few sentences, mostly ‘telling’ about the art card, then transformed into ‘showing’ a wonderfully written narrative,” he says. Asked who benefits most from the CC-Taylor Elementary partnership, Gilliam says he sees it as a win-win for everyone. “I know that our young students benefit from the opportunity to interact with positive role models. Furthermore, this collaboration forms a connection between two learning communities that produces long-lasting benefits for all involved.”
The CC course culminated with a visit to the Fine Arts Center by the children, many of whom had never been there. Prior to the big day, FAC docents joined the CC education course, discussing research on how people learn in informal contexts. The CC students and museum docents used education theory to co-create museum experiences that would meet the goals of both elementary school teachers and museum educators. Understanding how people learn enacted transformation that motivated viewers to look longer at the art.
“I was left speechless as I watched the students interact with art in a way that I’ve never seen before,” says Gilliam. “They were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and appreciated art in a new way.”
A highlight of the aptly named “Multiple Narratives” project was the elementary author-sharing portion of the venture, which took place at the FAC.
The Taylor Elementary students had been revising and rehearsing their art-inspired narratives based on the FAC art cards for two weeks. During their visit to the Fine Arts Center, Weston Taylor and Chris Bittner of CC’s ITS: Innovative Technology staff videoed each child as they read their narrative about their connection to a piece of art. The videos will preserve the students’ narratives and be available for other museum visitors to experience through a free augmented-reality app, Aurasma.
Aurasma will allow the students to view themselves reading their narratives in front of the actual piece of art that inspired it. And, even more importantly, they can share their experience with their family, as each student received a free family pass to the Fine Arts Center. Through the app, other visitors can use the students’ stories as models for finding their own connections to the artwork, Stanec says.
“My hope is that the elementary students’ videos as well as the CC students’ augmented reality ‘auras’ created as assignments in the class are accessible to museum visitors in the future, as well as expanded upon by community members, artists, and museum educators for additional exhibits,” she says. “If this technology and the writers’ workshop curriculum with art cards used in this Mellon-funded pilot program become a sustainable part of the FAC, we can continue to work toward the co-creation of multiple narratives beyond this project.”
The first major phase in the strategic planning process undertaken by Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has wrapped up, with nearly 1,600 people participating in the listening and information gathering process.
Four community listening sessions were held — two at Colorado College and two at the Fine Arts Center — as well as a series of small-group focus sessions and large group discussions, in order to seek input from various community constituents regarding the re-envisioning and redefining of CC and the FAC’s role in the arts in the region. In addition, more than 800 comments have been recorded from the listening sessions, comment cards, and online comment forms.
“I am so pleased with the number of community members who have participated in this process, and grateful for the care and thought that were captured in their comments. This input gives everyone involved in planning an excellent foundation for moving forward,” says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.
“We’re encouraged by the outpouring of thoughtful input from the community into this important process,” says Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center CEO David Dahlin. “The value of the community’s perspectives can’t be overstated as our mission continues to be primarily to the community at large. Hearing from so many what they value about the FAC and what they hope for the future will inform this next phase as we begin to develop programmatic directions that integrate the needs and hopes of both the CC community and the Colorado Springs community.”
The community comments are now being compiled, reviewed, and considered in the next phase of the strategic planning process. The subcommittees are reviewing the emerging themes for each of the Fine Arts Center’s three program areas (click on links to see the emerging themes in each area: museum, Bemis School of Art, and performing arts) and are beginning to draft program planning.
The community comments and feedback reveal several overlapping themes in the various subcommittees’ work. These include:
- Using the unique opportunities presented by the CC-FAC alliance to serve as a bridge to and between various communities
- Increasing access to and engagement with broader communities
- Preserving and enhancing programming for new and existing communities
- Leveraging resources and proximity of programs between CC and the FAC
On Feb. 1, 2017, the draft program plans will be shared with the broader community. From there, the timeline is as follows:
- March 15, 2017: Subcommittees submit final program plans to the Strategic Planning Committee
- April 2017: Strategic Planning Committee shares the draft comprehensive plan with the broader community
- May 1, 2017: Strategic Planning Committee submits the final comprehensive plan to the Strategic Plan Oversight Committee
- On or before June 30, 2017: Strategic Plan Oversight Committee approves the plan
More information is available at https://www.coloradocollege.edu/csfac/
Colorado Springs Independent covers announcement of grants from three foundations.
Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center have received grants from the John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation to support arts in the community and new educational initiatives. The gifts, which total $3.5 million, come from local as well as national philanthropic foundations, and follow on the heels of the recent announcement about the historic alliance between CC and the FAC.
“These incredible investments in the Fine Arts Center and Colorado College are a resounding endorsement of our new partnership and our bright future together,” says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “The support from these three foundations, as well as the enthusiasm we’ve heard from the community in the listening sessions, is creating great momentum as we develop a new vision that supports the missions of both the FAC and the college. We are imagining ways that the alliance will create new learning opportunities and enrich arts programming for the entire region. These gifts will help make this exciting future possible.”
The $2 million grant from the John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation is committed to a permanent endowment held by Colorado College for the exclusive support of the Fine Arts Center. This newly established endowment will provide funding in perpetuity for the FAC’s diverse, ongoing mission to inspire community vitality through performing arts, visual arts, and arts education. The addition of these endowed funds enhances the ability of the Fine Arts Center to build on its decades-long tradition of producing art exhibitions in its museum, theatre, and performing arts experiences on its stages, and classes and workshops in the Bemis School of Art.
“We believe the mission of the Fine Arts Center is vital to the city of Colorado Springs,” says Phil Lane, trustee of the Lane Foundation. “We hope the Lane Foundation’s support will inspire others in our community to redouble their investment in this vital institution, now stewarded by Colorado College.”
Tony Rosendo, executive director of the Lane Foundation and a Colorado College trustee, says “Leveraging new partnerships that now exist as a result of the alliance will benefit both the Fine Arts Center and the college — and ultimately the Colorado Springs community and CC students. These grants represent the beginning of truly exciting possibilities for the arts in our region and for our region from a national perspective.”
The potential of the recent alliance also has aligned with the priorities of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a leading international foundation making grants in higher education, humanities, and the arts, which awarded a $1.2 million grant to forge deeper academic connections between Colorado College and the interdisciplinary arts. The grant will allow Colorado College to expand existing teaching strategies and introduce a more diverse set of individuals on campus and within the community to the arts, with particular focus on programs related to the American Southwest.
“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is pleased to support Colorado College in this important initiative,” says Cristle Collins Judd, senior program officer of the Mellon Foundation. “The college’s historic dedication to innovative teaching and its commitment to diversity and inclusion now promise to integrate the arts and material culture within the liberal arts curriculum at Colorado College in ways that will benefit both students and, more broadly, the Colorado Springs community.”
A major gift to the Fine Arts Center from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation also supports educational initiatives by providing a scholarship fund for youth who show interest, initiative, and talent in visual arts and who don’t have the financial resources to undertake serious arts education. The $330,000 gift was made to the Fine Arts Center Foundation, which continues alongside the alliance with the college. The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation has funded arts education and aspiring visual artists for many years, and this year, their board made the decision to close the foundation and disperse its assets to like-minded arts programs. This carries on the legacy of their founder, Marie Walsh Sharpe, and is being made in honor of the foundation’s late executive director, Joyce Robinson, who had deep ties to the Fine Arts Center and served as the FAC’s director of education for many years.
“We are pleased to continue an important tradition of supporting youth in our community who aspire to achieve success in the visual arts through the Fine Arts Center’s excellent programming,” says Steve Mulliken, board president of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation. “Marie and Joyce would be happy to know that financial barriers will not keep young people in our community from receiving quality visual arts education, thanks to this scholarship fund at the FAC Foundation.”
“These new commitments provide validation of the synergy that is possible between these important institutions,” says David Dahlin, CEO of the Fine Arts Center. “We expect that this is only the beginning of exciting new developments as we begin planning for our combined future.”
The Board of Trustees was on campus Feb. 20-22 for its annual February meeting. There was much enthusiasm about the progress we are making as a college community. The board approved several items including:
- The 2014-15 budget, setting tuition and fees at $46,410. For students living on the campus, the comprehensive fee will be $57,162, with a standard double room rate of $6,176 and the meal plan C rate of $4,576.
- Tenure and promotion for four faculty members. Congratulations!
- Pedro de Araujo, assistant professor of economics and business
- Peggy Daugherty, assistant professor of chemistry
- Stefan Erickson, assistant professor of mathematics
- Peter Wright, assistant professor of religion
- Tenure for one faculty member: Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Shawn Womack. Congratulations Shawn!
- Emeritus status for retired Professor of Political Science Curtis Cook.
- The installation of solar panels on top of Cornerstone and El Pomar Sports Center.
In addition to the work done on the four standing committees of Audit; Governance; Investment; and Budget, Buildings and Grounds, the trustees worked with campus leaders on strategic projects. As a reminder, this year’s strategic project teams are Campaign Planning; Library Renovation; Campus Master Plan/Communication Plan; and Environmental Stewardship and Innovation.
The board heard presentations on campus safety, our newly-revised Half Block, and faculty-student research collaboration and enjoyed dinner with members of the Faculty Executive Committee. Thanks to all who helped make the board meeting a success.