Fine Arts Notes
I. Prelude to a New Major Gift
I would like you to know the background precipitating a statement that I wrote for the 2009-2010 issue of the college magazine Ampersand. Representatives of our college engaged generous donors of two gifts that potentially qualified for Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP) funds, provided that we could persuade the state coordinating board that performance-based activities qualified as "research." I am pleased to report that my essay convinced and thereby generated 50% matching funds that have been used to supplement one of these gifts in establishing the Maegene Nelson Visiting Scholar Program in Cross-Disciplinary Arts, designed to enhance the Fine Arts Doctoral Program. For those who may not have read the Ampersand, I repeat my statement below; others may wish to skip directly to the program description.
Conversations on "arts research" and "interdisciplinary" prompt reflection on performance as a type of research that some majors of our program in the Fine Arts can integrate with academic studies more typical of traditional doctoral programs. With some adjustments to "experiment" and to "dissemination," the following thoughts can be assimilated to studio arts as well. The arts are forms of discovery activity similar to those used in sciences. Although "research" often connotes scientific inquiry, it is "investigation directed to the discovery of some fact by careful consideration or study of a subject; a course of critical or scientific inquiry," while inquiry, in turn, denotes "the action of seeking…for truth, knowledge, or information concerning something." [Oxford English Dictionary] The critical investigation required to attain the knowledge that undergirds masterful expression in the arts constitutes a highly-specialized type of research rather than simply an act of dissemination or "creative activity." Learning a role, individual practice, and rehearsal hone skills and contribute insights; they constitute basic procedures related to the acquisition of knowledge. They contribute to discovery processes. The performance, however, embodies a complex intellectual dialogue that comprises adjustments to circumstances of space, temperature and humidity, acoustics, a performer's physical and emotional condition, other performers, audience, and occasion (not to mention accident). Thus, each performance situation institutes a singular research-act approximating the role that a scientific experiment holds for genesis of new knowledge. The performance generates distinctive information that may be communicated to an audience, that may be assimilated critically by the performer to new sets of circumstances, and that may be partially documented in a recording. Unlike a scientific experiment, of course, a performance never can be repeated within precisely identical circumstances and therefore always originates new forms of enlightenment. Performance research is critical inquiry that engenders knowledge about expressivity via public experiments. Let us keep such characteristics in mind as we examine incorporation of interdisciplinary investigation within a degree program that offers, too, a distinctive possibility of integrating practice-based with academic research.
Maegene Nelson Visiting Scholar Program in Cross-Disciplinary Arts:
Read more of Maegene Nelson's biography.
The Maegene Nelson Visiting Scholar Program was established to honor her interests in multiple arts and her pleasure in extending support to others. The endowed program underwrites visits of scholars whose research experiences embody varied types of cross-disciplinary involvement with arts and other disciplines, and whose expertise is likely both to model such research for, and to foster similar research involvement within, students in the College of Visual & Performing Arts' flagship Fine Arts Doctoral Program (FADP).
Maegene Nelson Visiting Scholars will possess the terminal degree or equivalent professional experience in one relevant discipline (ordinarily art, music, or theatre), and an extensive record of professional attainment in more than one single arts discipline at a qualitatively high level of achievement. Arts scholarship includes both production / studio presentation and traditional academic critical / theoretical study, while disciplinary combinations can involve more than one arts disciplines or a single art commingled with another discipline such as literature, aesthetics, and so on. The nature of desired integrative strategies includes collaborative, multi-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and other intellectually-defensible approaches. Visiting scholars exhibit both demonstrated excellence and creative and productive combination of arts and other disciplines.
Thus, Maegene Nelson scholars provide exemplary case studies in combining multiple disciplines at high levels of achievement. They provide research-related instruction primarily to students in Fine Arts Doctoral Program by means of workshops, lectures, master-classes, and other appropriate activities, and they coordinate activities with doctoral program leadership so as to integrate visiting scholarship with curricular requirements of the program. They will, in addition, stimulate campus and community by means of public presentations.
II. Interdisciplinary Arts Profile
Dr. William Westney, School of Music
Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor, Browning Artist-in-Residence, 2009-10 winner of the Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award
Dr. Westney's research impacts varied fields of study. "While his empowering ideas and techniques have come to fruition through work with musicians, Westney has found more and more ways to apply his methods beyond the discipline of music." This characteristic, together with the national recognition his pedagogy has achieved, is one reason why he received the Chancellor's Council of Distinguished Teaching Award, extended to only one faculty member annually if nominations rise to exacting standards.
Westney asserts, "As performers we are immediate in feeling aesthetics and the way they interact. Musicians bring an integrated mind and body way of knowing." His book, The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self, incorporates interdisciplinary forays into fields such as philosophy, psychology, language, and sociology, as do his performance-lectures and workshops. The workshops focus on creativity itself and thus affect both music and other arts. A recent alumnus of the FADP, Eugenio Zapata, profited from Westney's mentorship for a project to develop an inter-arts course for piano majors that integrated activities from visual, kinesthetic, and theatrical arts. Westney organized a symposium in September 2009, "Meaning in the Arts: An Interdisciplinary Conversation," featuring international scholars. Among these numbers Cynthia Grund (University of Southern Denmark), whom Westney credits for creating academic networks by introducing him to existing interdisciplinary topics and programs. Westney has just concluded a six-month residency as Hans Christian Andersen Guest Professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense during 2009-10.
III. Alum Notes 2009-10
In Memoriam: Richard "Dick" William Rodean (FA M, 1987)
Richard W. Rodean died Saturday morning, 14 November 2009, at Baylor Specialty Hospital in Dallas (TX). He wrote his dissertation, "An Analysis of Structural Elements and Performance Practice in Arnold Shoenberg's Die gluckliche Hand," under the direction of Dr. Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, Professor Ermita, School of Music. Rodean began his teaching career as a high school band director in Brighton, NY. He then served as assistant band director at the University of Buffalo for two years before accepting the position of band director at the University of Tampa, where he subsequently became the Chair of the Music Department and Chair of the Fine Arts Department. During that time, he was also principal bassoonist with the Tampa Philharmonic and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. He served as National President of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honorary band fraternity, from 1979-1981; during that last year, he began his Texas Woman's University (Denton, TX) career as Chair of Music, Dance and Drama. Throughout his tenure, he continued his love for musical performance as a member of the Zephyr Winds chamber ensemble and with the Wichita Falls Symphony. Subsequently, he served as Associate Dean and then as Interim Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences prior to his retirement in 2005.
Julie D. Fox (FA A, 1999)
Dr. Julie D. Fox is the assistant director for Mary Baldwin College's Master of Letters/Master of Fine Arts program in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance (http://www.mbc.edu/shakespeare/). This unique graduate program in Staunton, Virginia, combines scholarship and stagecraft, in close association with its academic partner, the American Shakespeare Center. The jewel of the program is the Blackfriars Playhouse, the only recreation anywhere of the indoor theatre in which Shakespeare worked. Julie and her spouse Carter designed and built a house last year, and they will be thrilled to close on their former residence (c. 1856), on July 30th. Julie and Carter also are struggling to survive the antics of their 16-year-old son, McCoy.
Ruth Jane Holmes (FA M, 1976)
Ruth Jane Holmes just completed her thirty-fourth year at Lubbock Christian University, where she teaches piano, music theory and music history, piano pedagogy and literature courses, and coaches the chamber ensemble. In the fall, Dr. Holmes performed the Bach, Concerto in C Major for Two Harpsichords, BWV 1061, with Roger Burnell, DMA candidate, and string players from TTU, also including the keyboard sonatas of Baldassare Galuppi. In the spring, Dr. Holmes gave several Powerpoint lecture recitals on piano and harpsichord, including "Music Through the Ages," and "The Harpsichord: A Fresh Voice from the Past" at the TMTA Convention in Houston in June.
Candace Keller (FA A, 2001)
Candace Keller received several awards and honors:
- Silver Star Award, given by Plainview Cultural Arts Council, for contribution & service to the arts, May 2008
- Minnie Stephens Piper Foundation nominee, for Wayland Baptist University, 2008-09
- Golden Nail Distinguished Volunteer ( for work in Arts) Award, Amarillo Area Foundation, May 2009
She curated the exhibition: The Citadelle Art Foundation, Canadian, Texas (May 2009),
produced a season of seven exhibitions at the Abraham Art Gallery, and served as President,
Plainview Symphony Board of Directors. She is Director for West Texas Regional Scholastic
Art Competition (annually in January, February) and is Main Street Four Points Committee
Design Chair, for the city of Plainview, Texas.
Mark Patterson (FA M, 2009)
This May Mark Patterson completed his Doctorate, graduated from Texas Tech, and accepted the position of Director of Music at Salisbury Presbyterian Church in Midlothian (suburban Richmond) Virginia. After a cross-country move with kids and dog, (!) we are enjoying our new home, the beautiful woods that surround us, and are excited about all of the adventures that lie ahead. We look forward to staying in touch with you!
Dorothy Randolph (FA M, 1997)
Dorothy Randolph has retired from orchestra playing and moved to sunny Tucson, AZ. However, she has continued to perform in public, playing the modern violin, baroque violin, treble viola da gamba, and soprano recorder in concerts of the University of Arizona (UA) School of Music Collegium Musicum, a town and gown organization. She plays regularly with a Consort of Violas da Gamba, and has given a demonstration of baroque violin as compared with modern violin to the School of Music Graduate Students Group (UA). She also played a Bass Gamba solo sonata with harpsichord accompaniment, Telemann's Sonata in e minor, at the Recorder and Viol Society (Tucson) and at a Master Class of the Recorder Society Recorder and Viols Workshop (Las Cruces, NM). At the Arizona Senior Academy (UA), she played J.S. Bach's Sonata in A Major for violin and harpsichord on baroque violin in a concert dedicating a newly acquired harpsichord. She plans to continue performing as long as possible in these venues and at churches in Tucson.
Louise M. Stinespring (FA T, 1999)
Louise M. Stinespring, Ph.D. is teaching theatre courses at the University of South Florida, Manatee/Sarasota campus. She lives in Sarasota with her husband, John A. Stinespring, Associate Professor Emeritus (FA A, 1989), and is directing a play and serves on the board for the Players' Theatre in Sarasota, the oldest community theatre in the United States. She innovated a series of plays and play scenes she directed at an upscale furniture store show room, the Home Resource store, in which she distills the essence of a playwright's oeuvre into a pastiche of textual overlays. Audiences are talking about her "fly-on-the-wall" theatre productions--known as A Taste of Theatre. She recently had a major role in a reenactment performance of Hair, done at the Players' Theatre, and has also directed original works by an up-and-coming local playwright who is now in Hollywood working on her first screen play.
Lari Dianne Young (FA M, 1994)
Dr. Lari Dianne Young is in her sixth year as Director of the Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. In addition to serving on the City of Corpus Christi Arts & Cultural Commission, Dr. Young was elected president of the Rotary Club of Southside Corpus Christi. In June she was named the 2009 Rotarian of the Year for her contributions to the club.