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ASU School of Art faculty mentors, programs, facilities create foundation for artists' growth, careers

ASU School of Art MFA in Photography alumnus David Emitt Adams created a series of tintypes from used 35 mm film canisters. Adams won the 2012 Freestyle Crystal Apple Award for outstanding achievement in black and white photography.

Photo by David Emitt Adams

November 06, 2012

Committed faculty in the ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts coupled with a broad and flexible program and outstanding facilities provide the foundation that helps students grow freely as artists and develop their individual artistic identities.

Three undergraduate students, ceramic artists Eric Heying and Evan Pomerantz and fiber artist Kelly Wilcox, credit the ASU School of Art with their recent successes of being recognized as among the best of their peers in the nation and with preparing them well for their careers as artists.

Heying received a coveted 2012 Windgate Foundation Fellowship – one of 10 awarded nationally to the “best and the brightest of emerging craft artists.” Pomerantz won the first place award for student excellence in the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ (NCECA) 2012 National Student Juried Exhibition. And Wilcox received her dream job offer as a fabric developer for Target when she graduates in May 2013.

These three are only a few examples of the recent high profile awards, residencies and exhibitions that the School of Art alumni and students have amassed that underscore the school’s position as one of the nation’s top tier programs.

“The accomplishments reflect the high level of student ambition, a professional preparation curriculum and peer support in place at the School of Art,’’ said Professor Adriene Jenik, director of the ASU School of Art.

Jenik also credits the faculty with instilling a sense of agency and fostering ambition in students. “Our students are making work of such a high caliber because our faculty are producing work at such a high level. Our faculty are recognized in the contemporary art field as having a deep understanding of their material practice and pushing the boundaries of their art.”

Evan Pomerantz, whose work was among a dozen chosen from 593 pieces submitted by students from across the nation for the NCECA student exhibition, graduated in May 2012 and is now one of four accepted into the Illinois State University ceramic department’s graduate at-large program. He credits the ASU ceramic faculty – Associate Professor Susan Beiner, Assistant Professor Sam Chung and Regents Professor Kurt Weiser – with modeling a disciplined practice that has already yielded rewards beyond his first place NCECA prize.

“They have informed me by instilling in me a work ethic that will push me further by understanding that I need to show up on time and show up with my work. They’ve demonstrated what it means to be a studio artist,’’ Pomerantz said. “They spend seven to eight hours teaching and then they go home and work five to six hours on studio work. They are actively engaged in their art and in creative practice.”

The quality of instruction is evident to those judging and working with ASU School of Art students and graduates.

“You can tell that he’s worked with good instructors,” said Albion Stafford, assistant professor in the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, where Pomerantz is now studying. “Evan as a student knows a lot already. His instructors are feeding him.”

Stafford explains that it is evident that Pomerantz has an understanding of not only the history of ceramics but also of what is happening in the current world of ceramics. His work reflects that knowledge and the boundaries he as an artist is deliberately testing.

Stephanie Moore, executive director of The Center for Craft Creativity and Design that administers the Windgate Fellowship, agrees that ASU art students graduate with a thorough understanding of the historical underpinnings as well as current trends shaping their art. Heying was one of 10 winners of a $15,000 Windgate Fellowship and was chosen from among 114 students who represent 66 of the country’s top college and university craft programs.

“Two of the best and brightest students are selected by faculty from a select list of colleges and universities that are recognized and that have credentialed crafts programs,” Moore said. Heying was one of four ceramicists this year to win a fellowship and he is featured in the Ceramics Monthly annual 2013 Yearbook and Buyers Guide.

Heying originally thought he would major in science, which he saw as a surer route to a job post college graduation, but his high school art teacher’s passion for ceramics influenced him and he instead enrolled in the ASU School of Art. Back from a summer in the 13th Arrondissement on the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris – a trip funded with part of his fellowship – Heying is channeling his creative energy through pen and ink drawings and watercolors until he can return to a studio and kiln.

“The School of Art taught me the path of an artist,’’ said Heying. He learned composition in Drawing 101 and the “poetry of color” in a painting class. “I wouldn’t have a head for color if I hadn’t taken that course.’’

Wilcox, who graduates in May 2013 as a fiber major, said that the different art disciplines from a three-dimensional metals class to a two-dimensional painting class gave her not only exposure to and experience in different skills but also to the way each of those disciplines approaches creative problem solving.

“She was told first hand that her background in creative thinking as an artist provided her with essential tools to be able to develop a complex digital resource library of Target’s in-house textiles used in home décor,’’ said Margaret Leininger, visiting assistant professor in the fibers program. By the second week of Wilcox’s 10-week internship, she was recruited for full-time employment after she graduated. Wilcox said she competed easily among interns representing such high ranking fine arts and design programs as the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Cincinnati fashion design program and the Philadelphia University’s textile design program.

Despite its size – more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students – there’s an individualized approach at the ASU School of Art. “You get out what you put in,’’ Heying said. “If my faculty see that I am working hard, they do something about it. They are there and it’s a mutual passion.’’

For more information about the ASU School of Art visit its website or phone 480.965.8521 to schedule a tour.

Public Contact: 
Susan Felt
Coordinator Communications and Marketing

Media Contact:
Susan Felt
Coordinator of Communications and Marketing