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Director's Notes – January 2022

Submitted on January 13, 2022 - 11:56am
Jamie Walker
Jamie Walker

Oh how grateful I am that we humans are known for being an adaptive species. Returning to campus in person at the start of the school year was so joyful and reminded us of how much learning happens during the non-scripted moments between fellow students and colleagues. The physical presence of our spaces, equipment and materials never seemed so welcome and inviting. Alas, after 96 days the UW decided to return the majority of classes back to the virtual world, first for a week and now through the end of January. Exceptions were made for those offerings that were truly limited by online delivery, including many of our Art and Design studio courses. Unlike a year ago, the campus is open – dorms, libraries, the Art Building, CMA and Sand Point – which promotes at least a slight degree of optimism that this round of pandemic adjustments might not last quite so long.

Despite the uncertainties that we are all facing, exciting and transformative news is featured throughout this newsletter.

For the first time since the Art Building took its current form in 1968, a major renovation is underway. The School of Art + Art History + Design is undertaking critical updates and enhancements to our arts spaces as part of a larger $15 million Arts Capital Campaign which aims to make the arts central to life at the UW by broadening arts access and engagement across campus. Over the course of the next 15 months, the Jacob Lawrence Gallery will be completely renovated and relocated to a more prominent and visible corner of the Art Building, kitty-corner from wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ - Intellectual House. The Art and Music buildings will see future-oriented updates that will serve students, faculty, and guest artists as they experience and make art. To make all this happen, University and College leadership have invested $10 million and are inviting our community of arts supporters in the region to join in raising the other $5 million.

I am so excited to share the news that the School of Art + Art History + Design has raised over $2 million in private support and that construction will begin on the Art Building in June 2022. A huge thanks to all of the donors who have contributed so far.

As we oscillate between the virtual and in-person worlds, many of our typical winter quarter highlights are being impacted, although sometimes in a good way. By being forced to move the Critical Issues Lecture Series online last year, Associate Professor Flint Jamison, who teaches the affiliated class Art 361/561 and curates the speakers, realized that he could greatly expand the audience via Zoom and attract guests who no longer needed to deal with the complexities of travel. You are welcome to join our students and attend the talks scheduled for midday Fridays.

The Jacob Lawrence Legacy Residency is one of the core initiatives of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery and takes place every February during Black History Month. Due to COVID concerns, this year’s resident, Lauren Williams, has had to delay her trip to Seattle to work in the gallery but is creating a new body of work at her home in Detroit under the auspices of the residency that will be exhibited at the gallery in February.

One of the last public events hosted by the School in 2020 before the COVID shutdown was the 3D4M Open House. The faculty and students are hoping that they can welcome you all again on March 1 to see their work and wander the fascinating confines of the Ceramic and Metal Arts Building.

Most of the stories in this newsletter are about the people — students, staff, faculty, alumni — who are the School of Art + Art History + Design. I am very pleased to introduce you to our two newest faculty, Jennifer Baez and Caitlin Earley, who were both hired as a result of our search to develop a presence in Latin American art history. As described by Professor and Chair Estelle Lingo this is a transformative moment for Art History and one that will bring dynamic new synergies to the field.

Our Student Voices column introduces our second-year graduate students in Design as they share their in-progress theses, and also features an interview with Art Honors seniors Kristen Walter and Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby.

Alumni Stories introduces three generations of alumni, Alfredo Arreguin (BA 1967, MFA 1969) who was featured in the December issue of the University of Washington Magazine, Noah Simblist (MFA 1999) Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who describes his creative journey through academia, while Adam Kingman (BDes 2014) — our first ever winner of the TV competition “Making It” — shares his life after school in the latest issue of Perspectives.

Other News is as robust as ever with a fascinating story of Greg Kucera’s (BA 1980) retirement, along with a host of significant recognitions for many of our other alumni. A special thanks to the passionate efforts made by a cadre of alumni who established an endowed scholarship recognizing their legendary teacher, mentor and friend, Alden Mason (BA 1942, MFA 1947, faculty 1946-1981).

Stay safe, stay creative and thank you for being a part of our community.

Jamie Walker

  • Director, School of Art + Art History + Design
  • Professor, 3D4M: ceramics + glass + sculpture
  • Wyckoff Milliman Endowed Chair in Art