Loyola University Chicago

Fine Arts

Department of Fine and Performing Arts


Loyola Night at the Art Institute of Chicago


Join us on Thursday, April 21 at 5-8 pm for Loyola Night at the Art Institute of Chicago! The current exhibition Van Gogh's Bedrooms will be free to Loyola guests on this night only. Enter @ Michigan Avenue and check-in at the Loyola Registration Table for free admission when accompanied by Student, Faculty or Staff with Loyola ID.

Loyola Art History Majors will also be available in the galleries to answer your questions about individual works of art. There will be Loyola Student Docent Talks held from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. For more information, contact FirstYearExperience@luc.edu. The Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660.

Sarita Heer Featured in Art Lecture Series


On Sunday, March 6 from 2-4 pm, Art History Faculty Sarita Heer will be lecturing at the Komechak Art Gallery. As part of the First Sunday Tea and Talk Art Lecture Series, Dr. Heer will discuss the East Indian culture classic story of the Bandit Queen. In addition, there will be a preview of the upcoming exhibition Book Art: Tactile and Visible Stories. The exhibition opens on March 7 and will run through April 7.

First Sunday Tea and Talks are open to the public, admission is free, and refreshments will be served.

The First Sunday Tea and Talk Art Lecture Series will be held at the Komechak Art Gallery, on the fifth floor of Kindlon Hall at Benedictine University. The University is located at 5700 College Rd., Lisle, IL, 60532. For more information, click here.

Chicago Tribune Reviews Present Standard


Recently, Lori Waxman of the Chicago Tribune reviewed Present Standard, an exhibition featuring the work of Fine Arts Faculty Rafael Vera. Ms. Waxman describes Vera's work in detail, "A deceptively pretty series by Rafael E. Vera hangs contour bath mats against textured grounds of pastel oil paint. Bath rugs gross me out, but Vera's look charmingly like large abstract bunny heads. I'd pet them if I could." The exhibition seeks to play with the manifold meanings and forms suggested by the “standard” – as either a flag or a pennant, a measuring tactic or a guiding principle, or a potent symbol of national identity.

To read the full review, click here.

Present Standard runs through April 24 at the Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, located on 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602. Gallery talks will be held on February 11, March 10 & 24, and April 14 from 5:30–6:30 pm. For more information, click here.

Alumna featured in ARC Gallery


Alumna Christina Warzecha (Ceramics '12) is featured in the upcoming exhibition Denouement, hosted by the ARC Gallery. Ms. Warzech's work is part of the exhibition featuring the work of eight Master's of Fine Arts candidates at Northern Illinois University. 

Over the course of three years, the work of these artists has evolved as they have experimented with new media and technology. They have submitted work that is representative of the culmination of their graduate careers.

This exhibition runs from March 2 - 26. There will be an opening reception held on Friday, March 4 from 6-9 pm. The ARC Gallery is located at 2156 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647. For more information, click here.

Summer Registration Begins February 15


Interested in taking a Fine Arts class this summer? The DFPA is offering the following classes in Fine Arts for the Summer Term:

  • Painting I (FNAR 114)
  • Photography I (FNAR 115)
  • Modern Art (FNAR 202)
  • Digital Media I: Pixel (FNAR 233)
  • Digital Media II: Vector (FNAR 234)
  • Internship I (FNAR 380)
  • Internship II (FNAR 381)
  • Gallery Internship (FNAR 386)
  • Independent Study (FNAR 399)

Registration for summer classes opens Monday, February 15, 2016. For more information about Summer Term, click here.

Rafael Vera Featured in Present Standard


Check out the work of Fine Arts Faculty Rafael Vera in Present Standard, an exhibition curated by Edra Soto and Josue Pellot at the Chicago Cultural Center. 

Present Standard features 25 contemporary artists with Latino Chicago connections. Their works that play with the manifold meanings and forms suggested by the “standard” – as either a flag or a pennant, a measuring tactic or a guiding principle, or a potent symbol of national identity.

This exhibition runs through April 24 at the Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, located on 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602. Gallery talks will be held on February 11, March 10 & 24, and April 14 from 5:30–6:30 pm. In addition, a roundtable discussion will take place on February 25 from 5-6:30 pm at the Claudia Cassidy Theater. For more information, click here.

Whose Fine Line is it Anyway


Whose Line is it Anyway will consist of the best pieces made during this semester in Drawing II. Everything is done by Fine Arts students, from poster design, artist statement, installation of the show, advertising, and even some visual strategies to get the viewer interested in visiting every floor.  Pizza and refreshments will be served at 5:00 pm in the Greenhouse on the 7th floor, where more art will be exhibited.

Whose Fine Line is it Anyway opens on Wednesday, November 18 from 5-8 pm in Mundelein floors 4-7. The exhibition will run through December 2.

Meet the Simplexity artists


Across much of the globe, access to vast amounts of quickly and widely distributed information is a key component of everyday life. “Unfortunately, our ability to generate information can rapidly overwhelm our capacity to understand it. One of the greatest challenges of the information age involves finding patterns and making meaningful connections from the mountains of data.”

Data visualization (also known as infographics) is a powerful and creative means of achieving this end and, as such, will be the focus of our upcoming exhibition Simplexity. With each piece of work in this collection we will explore the many methods and innovative approaches to the task of sharing knowledge.

This exhibition is free and is hosted by the Ralph Arnold Gallery. To learn more about the artists featured, click here.

4th Ward Project Space hosts solo exhibition for faculty Betsy Odom


4th Ward Project Space presents faculty Betsy Odom: Let's Be HonestLet’s Be Honest is an exhibition of new sculptural works that utilize craft and material to address a larger conversation about gender.  The works in the exhibition are influenced by feminist art traditions of the 1970’s, focusing on floral patterns, twisted knots, and references to the body.  These works reckon with the sometimes uncomfortable approaches of 1970’s feminism by reexamining feminist visual cues to create a sense of ambiguity and gender defiance.

Betsy Odom’s list of supplies includes foam, cork, leather, graphite, soap, wood, and more. Dyes and paints color her forms even as they reveal the physical properties of her materials. Without irony, her sense of craft and impeccable construction elevate the conversation about gender beyond one of material signifiers to one that presses hard against our world.

Let's Be Honest is hosted by 4th Ward Project Space, located at 5338 S Kimbark Ave, Chicago, IL 60615. This exhibition will run from October 18 – November 15. There will be an artist reception on Sunday, October 18 from 4-7 pm. For more information about this event, click here.

Bert Green Fine Art presents its second show of works by faculty Rafael E. Vera


Bert Green Fine Art is pleased to present its second show of works by Chicago-based artist Rafael E. Vera. For this exhibition he collaborates with two other artists, Jessica Caponigro and Rachel Fenker-Vera, on individual pieces. He has also included a separate, single work by the artist Julie Weber, from her “Uncertain Objects” series.

Rafael E. Vera continues his ongoing engagement with the domestic environment through explorations of its formal qualities, and examines the relationships and resulting symbolism inherent in creating and occupying interior space. Vera fashions unique objects and sets up tableaux which elevate the ordinariness of utilitarian components into an aesthetic inquiry. By isolating and studying the mechanics of daily life, Vera exposes a formerly unexamined realm of hyper-objects that assume powerful roles yet attract little or no attention to themselves until revealed.

Going beyond the well-established trope of the ready-made, Vera deconstructs domestic objects down to their constituent elements — a sheet of glass, a blanket, wallpaper, a dryer vent — and reassembles them for inspection as iconic elements in a larger story. This is a narrative that just about everyone has lived but is rarely celebrated or promulgated.

There will be an artist talk on Saturday, December 5 at 4:00 pm.

"Mutual Dealings" is hosted by Bert Green Fine Art, located at 8 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 620, Chicago, IL 60603. The opening reception will be Saturday, November 7 from 5-8 pm, and the exhibition will run through December 19. This exhibition is free and open to the public.  For more information about this event, click here

To see more of Rafael E. Vera's work, click here.

Professor Jessica Gondek in Ink & Clay 41 Exhibition


Two pieces from Associate Professor Jessica Gondek's The Enterprising Machines series were recently included in the W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Gallery Ink & Clay 41 Exhibition at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. Since 1971 this annual exhibition has celebrated printmaking, drawing, ceramic ware, clay sculpture, installation and mixed media. Professor Gondek was included as an ink artist as she utilizes the techniques of woodcut and digital print in order to "blur the line between hand and machine." The focus of this series is abstract, inspired by technology, geometry, nature, and human invention.  This exhibition runs through October 29, 2015.

Professor Noritaka Minami Receives Book Award


Join us in congratulating Professor Noritaka Minami, who recently received the 2015 DAM Architectural Book Award for his publication "1972." Professor Minami is one of the winners to receive this award from the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.

For more information about "1972" and to see Professor Minami's work, click here.

Professor Kelli Evans Interviewed by Chicago Tribune


Professor Kelli Evans was recently interviewed for an article in the Chicago Tribune about the use of color in interior environments. In the article, Professor Evans discusses the effects of color in specific environments. Depending on the environment, companies use different colors to evoke different feelings.

To check out the article in greater detail, click here.

Faculty News: Kevin McGroarty recognized in LogoLounge 9


Kevin McGroarty is to be recognized among top designers for contributions to the world of corporate identity with the release of LogoLounge 9, hitting shelves this December. The 2,000 logos featured in LogoLounge 9 were chosen from a pool of roughly 25,000 by an international panel of jurors. 

"The LogoLounge books are both a trophy and a resource," explains LogoLounge creator Bill Gardner. "The website is where the greatest volume of research and networking takes place, but the books have become must-haves for designers and logo voyeurs alike due to the high-level vetting that occurs, as well as the 20+ case studies that feature a wide range of branding projects. "LogoLounge issues a best-selling book series regularly highlighting the best of the bnest in logo design. For more information, visit LogoLounge.com.

LogoLounge 9 will feature the Sky Lounge logo Kevin designed for the Mundelein Center for the Fine and Performing Arts building. 

Kevin has been a graphic designer in Chicago for nearly 20 years. He has worked for clients as large as international consultants McKinsey and Company and as small as Dan Mindo Children's Party Magician. He has been working with Loyola University Chicago creating the public-facing event materials first for the Theatre department and later for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. He is currently also the Marketing and Branding manager for Gold Leaf Design Group and does work for the overall Magician Community as Grifter Design. 

To contact Kevin McGroarty, email at kevin@grifter-design.com or kmcgroa@luc.edu.

Professor Vera's work in Rough Idle


Check out Loyola's own Fine Arts Professor Rafael Vera's work in Rough Idle! The opening reception will be Friday, August 21 from 6-9 PM at 217 N Carpenter St., Chicago, IL 60607.

Rough Idle is a group exhibition presented by the Chicago Artists Coalition. The exhibition features HATCH Residents Jessica Caponigro, Jeffrey Michael Austin, and Rafael Vera. Rough Idle is curated by Allison Lacher.

The three artists will participate in a collaborative installation by supplying, altering, and organizing distinct works into a single experience. This collusion of works resembles the emergence of an automatic, cooperative, and self-sustaining system such as an engine or a living cell. Rough Idle is a moment of doubt, apprehension, and faith in which the system strains towards the unified function of all its parts. Rather than depending on a centralized, premeditated, egoistic vision of the art exhibition, Rough Idle embraces the emotional and material resonances which emerge spontaneously and organically from a nebula of objects. 

This exhibition will run from Friday, August 21 to Thursday, September 10, 2015. For more information, click here.

Don't miss Loyola Family Day at the Art Institute of Chicago!


Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 26, when the Art Institute of Chicago will host Loyola Family Day. As a University Partner of the Art Institute of Chicago, Loyola University undergraduate students, faculty, and staff -- and their friends and family -- are invited to a special day at the museum.

Additionally, on any day Loyola students can present their university ID at the museum’s admissions desk and enter the museum for free. The regular hours of the Art Institute are Monday through Sunday from 10:30 am - 5:00 pm, with extended hours on Thursday evenings until 8:00 pm.

Loyola Family Day Schedule of Events

The Art Institute of Chicago

Professor Christian Rieben's work on display


The Bike Room is pleased to present "Ectoplasm from the Underworld," featuring paintings by Loyola's own Fine Arts Professor Christian Rieben. The visceral nature of these paintings’ surfaces and content makes for powerful objects. Their presence demands that the audience engage with ideas concerning memory, mythology and a reconsideration of the art historical canon.

The opening reception for this exhibition is Saturday, September 5, from 6-9 PM at the Bike Room.  The Bike Room is an artist-run project space located in East Rogers Park at 1109 W North Shore Ave, Chicago, IL 60626.

Mr. Reiben's work will be shown September 5 - October 2, 2015. 

Fine Arts Convocation


Thursday August 27, 4-5PM in Fine Arts Annex 117 

Meet with fine arts faculty and other art students to discuss the upcoming school year and exciting exhibitions. The opening reception for Mysterious Possessions will follow at 5pm. 

Meet new full-time Fine Arts Faculty

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts is excited to welcome four new full-time Fine Arts Faculty.

Dr. Sarita Heer has been teaching at Loyola University Chicago since 2010. Courses taught include: Art History: Pre-Historic to Renaissance, Renaissance to Modern, and Islamic Art History. She received her PhD at University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current research is focused on Phoolan Devi, India’s Bandit Queen, and how she represents a new model of Indian womanhood for the late 20th-early 21st centuries. 

Since 2014, Betsy Odom, MFA, has been an instructor of Sculpture at Loyola University Chicago. Starting this fall, she will be teaching 3-Dimensional Design as well. Along with teaching at Loyola, Betsy has taught at Lake Forest College and at Columbia College Chicago.  

A Dozen Knockout Designs

A Dozen Knockout Designs

These books were produced in visual communication classes taught by Nicole Ferentz, Associate Professor of Visual Communication in the Department of Fine & Performing Arts. Professor Ferentz started teaching at Loyola in 1998 and ended most classes with a book project. Some projects explore the use of typography as pure visual form or verbal expression, while others explore graphic design history through timelines on historical periods and advertisements for typefaces. Still others provide students with organizational challenges in presenting a visual/verbal collection. Some books are one-of-a-kind, while others are multiples, with each student receiving a copy as a memento of the class. Over the years, Professor Ferentz amassed a sizable collection which she thought would be fun to share.

Located in Cudahy Library, Professor Ferentz's books will be available to look at from April 10 - May 8. The books are located on the New Books Shelf, but they are not available to check out. Feel free to stop by and peruse them!

Alumna Marissa Neuman

Alumna Marissa Neuman

Marissa Neuman, a 2012 alumna, was recently selected to appear in an international peer reviewed exhibition at Brown University. Neuman's work was selected out of 1,147 entries by a jury to be shown at the David Winton Bell Gallery presented by the 2015 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Biennial in conjunction with the 49th Annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Conference at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Click here for more information.

Beginning April 24th Marissa will be curating an exhibition titled Interference: a collaborative show of Chicagoland art educators. The exhibition features a collection of work from eight art educators who participated in several workshops from October 2014 - April 2015. Each workshop presented a variety of challenges that both challenged and encouraged the participants. The exhibition will be on display at the Lillstreet Gallery Annex until the end of May.

Illustrations by Bobby Sims

Illustrations by Bobby Sims

Sims is a graduate of Loyola with a degree in Visual Communication. Recently his work was featured in an article by The Chicago Reader. Check out the article and Sims's wonderful illustrations here.

Fine Arts Faculty Betsy Odom in Group Exhibition


Tertiary Dimensions

September 4- 19

Sector 2337

2337 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Opening Reception - Friday, September 4th, 5-8pm

Tertiary Dimensions is a group exhibition featuring artists Aay Preston-Myint, Adam Liam Rose + Alex Zak, Amina Ross, Betsy Odom, Elijah Burgher, Gordon Hall, Katie Vota, Kiam Marcelo Junio, Margaret Bobo-Dancy, Matt Morris, Oil Rodriguez, and Rami George --- and organized as part of Platforms: 10 Years of Chances Dances — a multi-site series of exhibitions and events in celebration of 10 years of Chicago-based queer collective, Chances Dances.

This exhibition unveils the artists’ sensitivity to space and how such material practices propose an alternative, non-binary platforms for the queer and/or collective body. This platform becomes a meaningful tool against oppressive structures which limit pleasure, desire, visibility, and mobility. Here, we might further examine how these artists consider the queer body in space amongst the domestic, the architectural, the landscape, public or private sectors— and how the collision between such domains might summon, conjure, or propose a third space. In some cases, we might witness artwork that is inherently political and readily accessible because it is unlawful. In other instances, we encounter artwork that leaves us with an uncanny, yet beautiful remnant of itself, that it is hardly identifiable. From sculpture to photography, drawing to video, we observe such concerns of new dimensionality and depth articulated via mappings, site-specific installations, material explorations, and personal collections.

Professor Rafael Vera one of the featured artists in "You Are Looking Good, A Real Good Looker"


piece by Austin Jeffrey

"You Are Looking Good, A Real Good Looker"

The Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to present You Are Looking Good, A Real Good Looker from Friday, January 8, 2016 to Thursday, January 28, 2016. Co-curated by Allison Lacher and Cole Lu, this culminating HATCH Projects exhibition brings together contemporary artists from both Chicago and St. Louis.

The two groups encounter each other as strange reflections, both individually and as cities. A convergence of works and styles, as if in a hall-of-mirrors, suggests the multifaceted feelings of admiration, competition, aversion, and desire experienced when facing one’s own reflection.

Featured Chicago-based HATCH Projects artists are Jeffrey Michael Austin, Hideous Beast, Jessica Caponigro, Snow Yunxue Fu, Andy Roche, and Loyola Fine Arts Professor Rafael E. Vera. Featured St. Louis-based artists are Brandon Anschultz, Lyndon Barrois Jr., Michael Byron, Sage Dawson, Lilly Randall, and Deborah Alma Wheeler. The exhibition will travel to Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts in St. Louis later in 2016.

Opening Night is Friday, January 8 from 6 - 9 pm at 217 N Carpenter St. Chicago, IL 60607. Hideous Beast will perform, First Art Work, continuously from 6 - 9 pm during the opening reception.

Professor Jessica Gondek Invited to Participate in Worldbuilding


At the Flux: The Edge of Yesterday and Tomorrow SGCI Conference in Portland, Oregon work by Associate Professor Jessica Gondek will be included in the Worldbuilding themed portfolio. This portfolio theme encourages artists to investigate "worldbuilding" through digital media as well as traditional printmaking. Inspired by advances in video game software and digital modeling, the portfolio aims to feature prints of worlds that have defined rules, culture, history, geography, and ecosystems. The conference will take place March 30, 2016 to April 2, 2016 at the Marriot Downtown Waterfront. Worldbuilding will be at the PNCA Collaboration Design Gallery.

In Conversation with New Faculty Member

Rafael E. Vera Interview

Fine Arts Marketing Associate, senior Art History major, and President of Loyola Art History Club, Alexandra Senycia sat down with Lecturer Rafael E. Vera to discuss his experiences at Loyola as one of the Fine Arts Program’s newest faculty members.  During this time of transition, Vera has been making an impact beyond Loyola’s visual arts community with his printmaking classes and exhibition at the Ralph Arnold Gallery, BAD EDITIONS.


AS:      For just over a year now, you’ve been working at Loyola as a lecturer for both printmaking and drawing. What has that been like?

RV:     When Loyola called me to offer me the job, I was really excited.  One of most interesting parts of the job to me, was the fact that it was a joint painting, drawing and printmaking position. They had a space for printmaking, and they had really good presses, which is hard to find.  Part of my job would be to set up the printmaking shop, which was as difficult as it was exciting.

           I also liked the fact that two other faculty members, besides myself, would be joining the team. There was going to be change. There was going to be new blood; new ideas. I really like the possibility of being in a position where I could help develop not only my student’s careers, but also the department itself. I had never had that opportunity, and I’m very glad I was chosen for that position.   

           I also like the fact that Loyola has a small Art department. I like working for a small department because it can be like a big family where everybody knows and helps each other.

           This first year has been great. I feel like we, as a department, have done so much in one year, and everyone is so receptive and helpful. The support has been wonderful. Everyone is very supportive of new initiatives, and that is rare. We have the right ingredients for a great department: hardworking, interested and qualified faculty, with a great desire to help our students learn and live the Arts, and a student population who is ready to work and make the best of it. The energy in the department is inspiring!

AS:      How would you describe your relationship with your students?

RV:      Great, great! They’re very respectful. The majority of them are really interested whether they’re art majors, or minors, or not. One of my very favorite things about teaching at a liberal arts school is being able to teach that one freshman or sophomore that is lost.  They don’t know exactly what they want to do, though they know their parents have expectations for them to become doctors, or lawyers, or whatever. But that’s not really what they want to do. And then I see that they have great potential in the arts and I show them that. Once they see it, they know what to do. That’s one of my favorite things because I feel like I may be making a very important change in their lives.

AS:      Now that printmaking is going to be offered regularly at Loyola, what are the benefits?

RV:      Printmaking is a very romantic process. It’s quite demanding but very gratifying. It’s a discipline that allows you to make multiples out of one matrix—one source. But the real answer to that question is that it teaches you perseverance and patience. That is what I like the most about it.

            Nowadays, there is so much information available on the Internet that you can learn pretty much any technique, anytime you want. But you might not know why you are doing it or what the purpose is. I like to think that I’m the guy that teaches you why you are making art. Not just how but why. Because the “how” you can learn so easily nowadays. When I teach printmaking, I’m teaching a technique that is very time consuming, that is very hard, and that demands a lot out of you. But you can learn that from a book. You can learn that from a YouTube video. What I want the student to get out of it is that it’s hard work that requires determination and patience, because you have to spend time with it. You have to slow down. You cannot make printmaking fast, there is no way. It doesn’t work. So you have to put your cell phone away and spend time in the studio, you and your artwork, until it’s perfect. And once you get that first perfect print, you’re hooked! You get such a rewarding feeling out of it. I truly believe it teaches you something very valuable in life. Which in some ways can be different from painting and drawing. You can make a very successful, very smart drawing in five minutes, but you cannot make anything in printmaking in a short amount of time. You have to earn it.

AS:      Let’s talk about your show at the Ralph Arnold Gallery, BAD EDITIONS. How did you come to curate this show?

RV:      I’m on the Gallery Committee, and I wanted the three new hires, including myself, to curate a show in each of our fields. We are developing a new mission for the gallery, one that will provide our student population, faculty, and the community at large with more access to contemporary art practices, workshops, artist talks, etc. Basically an educational programing that will allow our audience to learn about art directly from emerging and established artists. I am convinced this will be immensely valuable and will broaden our student’s understanding of what is happening in contemporary art, and how they see themselves as part of it all. This is so important!

            My idea with BAD EDITIONS was to promote printmaking as a new discipline at Loyola. What is difficult about filling up the printmaking classes is that it is only a requirement for painting and drawing majors. So it is important that I showcase these classes to other students who might be interested or that don’t even know they’re being offered. 

          There is this misconception that the only people who would be interested in printmaking are two-dimensional artists because you print on paper. So I wanted to show that you can be a ceramicist or a sculpture minor and still be interested and use printmaking to your advantage. The exhibition presents many alternative methods to printmaking that are quite interdisciplinary, so when you go to the show you will see sculpture, bookmaking, zines, and painting. You will experience new and exciting ways of using printmaking. You also have artists who went to school for printmaking and make prints, and then you have artists who went to school for metalsmithing that are using printmaking as a foundation for a piece.

           I want to inspire the students to think, “Oh, wait, I thought I needed to be a painting or drawing major to be interested in printmaking, but I don’t.”

AS:      What are some of the projects you are working on now?

RV:      I’m one of those artists who only produces work for a show. If you are an artist you are always making art, so sometimes cleaning my bicycle or taking my kids for a walk, that’s part of being an artist. That’s part of what’s informing the art that I’m making because the art that I’m making is informed by my life. But if I don’t have a show in mind or a goal, I don’t go to my studio.                                                 

            Right now I have a solo show in Harper College Art Gallery that opens in November called Variations on a Theme. It’s a very small retrospective on the last five years.

           I’m also working on a project that I’m doing with my best friend, Victor Marquez-Barrios, who is a genius composer. He composed a piece of music based on one of my sculptures, and I’m creating a sculpture in response to one of his compositions. Both pairings will be shown in the gallery for a month. Our collaboration will end with a Performance Art piece that we are producing together that will involved a marimba, two clarinets, a pallet truck and myself. The show is called Closed Eyes Gaze and will be at Truman State University in March 2017.


BAD EDITIONS is open at the Ralph Arnold Gallery through October 8th.  Additionally, the Fine Arts Program’s two other new faculty members, Betsy Odom and Noritaka Miniami, are each curating shows at the Gallery this year: Near At Hand (December 1, 2017-January 21, 2017) and Continuum (February 23, 2017-April 15, 2017), respectively. 

In Conversation with Artist-In-Residence, Rick Valicenti

Before Rick Valicenti’s exhibition, (maybe) This Time, opened at the Ralph Arnold Gallery, Fine Arts Marketing Associate, President of Loyola Art History Club, and senior Art History major, Alexandra Senycia sat down with Loyola’s new Artist-in-Residence to discuss the show, his work with student designers, and his upcoming collaboration with Loyola Fine Arts seniors on gun violence in Spring 2017.


AS:      What is the desired impact of your new show, (maybe) This Time?  It looks like a politically charged exhibition.


RV:     It looks like it is, isn’t it?  I spent some time at Loyola, and it really underscored for me the presence of a social justice agenda on campus, in the pedagogy, in the curriculum.  At that point, I realized my in work, while that’s not the primary focus of it, I use design in artful ways.  I use the medium of the designer, the tools of the designer, and the skills of the designer to make artful commentary on the things that are going on.


I want to show the students that they could use these tools that they’re learning in their visual communications classes for something more than just selling a product.  They can take that focus as a designer away from the commerce and towards the citizen or the role of being a citizen.  The role of being a citizen, as stated in the Constitution, is that we have the right to free speech, and in that right of free speech, we can speak truth to power.


AS:      It is definitely a good thing for students to see that what they are creating is more than aesthetic beauty or a piece of advertising.  Design is something that can make a difference.  It’s something that can be expressive and meaningful.


RV:     That’s right.  And if nothing else, (maybe) This Time can at least inspire confrontation.  I want to inspire more discourse and more conversation around difficult issues.  Right now we see a lot of issues, and the designs that accompany them—whether the design is a graphic in the lower half of a TV screen or an infographic we see in the newspaper—all of those means of conversation, for me at least, are numbing.  I see so many of them that I just disconnect from them.  I think it’s the ubiquity, the redundancy, and the lack of new form to express current issues.  It leaves the audience with no more impact.  It’s the responsibility of the designer or the creative person who is dealing with the same content and is inspired by the same issues to find form and context for that form that can inspire new conversation or at least awaken those who are not in a conversation to maybe consider a point of view.


This is what I want to show the students that I’m going to work with in January when we deal with issues about gun violence.  I don’t invite them to do work that looks just like what I’m presenting in this gallery.  Instead, I am inviting them to consider alternative means of expression, production, imagination, whatever those steps are in a designer’s process to get to find new, compelling ways to make their statement.


To awaken the audience and to make them want to join the conversation, that’s a challenge, that’s a design challenge of the 21st century. And I believe the designer has yet to be really called to task.


            In (maybe) This Time, I did a mash-up of things that you would never put together.  You’ll ask yourself, “Why are those two things next to each other?”  It’s kind of crazy, but I did it with the hope that I could inspire students.


AS:      How does your gallery exhibit relate to your project on gun violence that you’re doing with students in the spring?


RV:     In the simplest terms, one should recognize that none of the objects that I’m putting in the gallery show have anything to do with gun violence. The second thing is that I’m not inviting students to do work like me.  I’m just saying that this is an example of some of the objects I’ve made that deal with these issues.  But none of these pieces are initiatives that are dedicated to changing public opinion or public policy.  They are unexpected visual commentary from a personal point of view.


            I would ask the students, “If we added the extra objective, which is what if we really could change public point of view or discourse, how would we do it creatively?”


            We also need to keep in mind the context that the work is appearing in.  (maybe) This Time is appearing in a gallery, which requires a certain presentation of work and a certain kind of manufacturing of work.  I don’t expect the work I do with the students to have gallery as the end game.  I can see alley as the destination.  I can see store window.  All of those things require different materials and different installation techniques.


AS:      What can you tell me about your past work with student designers?


RV:     I’ve worked student designers at universities, but I’ve never worked with them for only a semester like I am at Loyola.  I’ve done an initiative that lasted three years with students graduating each year—since it lasted over three years—but I was able to work with twenty seniors for a whole year.  That was dealing with the issues of fresh air, or lack thereof.


AS:      When you’re dealing with these big issues of society and politics, how do your personal beliefs affect your work with students?


RV:     I try not to impose my politics on them because that is unfair. It’s not for me to tell them what they need to say. It’s for me to shepherd their point of view onto the best platform in the best form.


AS:      Why do you choose to work with student designers?


RV:     There’s a great deal of joy.  To be so close to the next generation of designers, I’m aware that each of those people in their career path is going to create a gazillion impressions, and I want them to understand the power and potential in that responsibility.  They should know that there are just three kinds of message throughout their whole life that they’re going to design around. And those are messages of value.  The first kind of value is personal and would be different for each person.  The second kind will be something like, “On sale today…” That’s a message of value. Or, “The best car you’ll ever drive.” Then there’s the message of no value.  I’m inviting designers to go through their career saying they should only do two of those three.  It’s their responsibility to know what a message of value looks like and sounds like.


I want designers to be fine citizens.  The success in this creative, immersive workshop has little to do with whether they make something powerful, but if they begin to feel like they are moving outside their own comfort zones into new creative territory, they will never forget what that felt like.  If they recall that later in life, they will go there again.


Not everyone is trained to create and distribute messages the way designers are.  Every experience people have can be traced back to design.  Even if it’s reading the Bible. Someone had to create that typeset and illuminate those letters.  Every piece of information you see on television, every text message you get on your iPhone, every theatre poster, and every menu you read is graphic design.


AS:      Often people don’t realize that those examples are design because the medium is ephemeral—posters, menus, paper.  It’s something people see or use in a specific moment and then don’t see again.


RV:     The objective is to make those impressions more indelible and soul-stirring.  When that happens and when the people who control those messages know how to shape and distribute them, the designs can be smarter, more impactful, and even healing when it’s necessary.  Those are important things for us to be sensitive to in this upcoming workshop on gun violence.  I don’t want it to just be about shock and awe because we don’t need too much more of that. We’ve just been through months of shock and awe.



(maybe) This Time runs through November 26 at the Ralph Arnold Gallery. For more information about the exhibition, please click here


Rick Valicenti would like to express his gratitude to Dean Thomas Regan, to Chair of the Fine Arts Department, Sarah Gabel, and to Nicole Ferentz for their trust and interest in this creative activity.

Jurors for the 2017 Student Juried Exhibition

Loyola proudly welcomes Jeff Stevenson and Matthew Terdich as jurors for the 2017 Student Juried Exhibition

Jeff Stevenson

Jeff Stevenson is an award winning artist who has been honored with an Artist’s Residency at Ragdale, a solo exhibition at the Union League Club of Chicago, the “Patron Award” by artist Philip Pearlstein at the Northern National Competition, the “Curator’s Choice Award” at the Chicago Art Open, the “Figurative Award” at the Beverly Arts Center and others.

Jeff Stevenson is the Gallery Director for Governors State University’s campus gallery and has developed the gallery’s program to include artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Michelle Grabner, Cecil McDonald, Judy Ledgerwood, Sarah Krepp, Matthew Woodward, and many others.  Guest curators and judges have included Tricia Van Eck, Susan Aurinko, Elizabeth Whiting, Whitney Tassie, Allison Peters Quinn, Christopher D. Smith, Joyce Owens, Jeff Zimmerman, Dolores Mercado, and others.

The “Art on Campus” program at GSU has grown through Jeff Stevenson’s efforts to feature current student, alumni, community artist groups, and individual artist’s exhibitions in alternative dedicated locations on campus.

Jeff Stevenson has served as judge for the Vicinity Exhibit at the Norris Cultural Arts Center, Union Street Gallery, Frank Lloyd Wright Bradley House Art Exhibition, Tall Grass Arts Association’s Art Fair, the Flat Iron Arts Association’s Plein Air competition, and the Joliet Junior College Student exhibition.

As an art educator, Jeff Stevenson has taught college level studio art, art history, and creativity classes.   Stevenson has been invited as guest lecturer and panelist for university classes, campus programs, and national conferences.   He also has served on boards and committees with the Chicago Artists’ Coalition, Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, Flossmoor Village Art Commission, and occasionally writes for examiner.com as the Chicago Museum Examiner.

Website: http://www.govst.edu/gallery/

Matthew Terdich

Matthew Terdich is a Chicago artist and the Executive Creative Director at the Chicago Design Museum. He is also the founder of Programme, a Chicago-based design studio. He specializes in print, publications, environmental graphics, information graphics, brand communications and corporate identity. 

Website: http://matthewterdich.com/

In Conversation with New Faculty Member

Betsy Odom Interview

Fine Arts Marketing Associate, senior Art History major, and President of Loyola Art History Club, Alexandra Senycia sat down with Professor Betsy Odom to discuss her experiences at Loyola as one of the Fine Arts Program’s newest faculty members, her own sculptural works, and her upcoming exhibition at the Ralph Arnold Gallery, Near at Hand.


AS:      How did you start teaching at Loyola?


BO:     I actually taught here as part-time faculty member before becoming a full-time professor.  I taught sculpture at a few other schools in the area—like Colombia and Lake Forest College—but I grew to really appreciate Loyola.  I like the facilities a lot.  I like the students a lot. I feel really lucky to have received the lecturer position in Sculpture and 3D Design.


AS:      How is Loyola different than some of the other institutions that you have taught at?


BO:     One thing that stands out here is working with core students.  I end up with a whole bunch of students who have never taken an art class at all.  For me, it’s a really exciting teaching experience because everything is so new!  It’s exciting for everybody, and the energy in the classroom gets really high.  Also, you get such a weird, interesting range of aesthetic ideas and approaches to making that come out of people who aren’t art initiated.  Often, by the end of the semester in Sculpture I, you’ll have Criminology students and Dentistry students doing these bizarre abstract sculptures that you’d never expect to see come out of them.  Part of what makes their projects so special is that they come from such a different background, and I enjoy that a lot.  

I have also enjoyed getting to know the Fine Arts majors and the Visual Communication majors through my 3D Design class, which I think is a unique class for the Fine Arts student because there are not a lot of opportunities to do three dimensional work.  I see 3D Design as a real opportunity to expand the boundaries of what design is.  I run it as a really fun class with eight different projects.  It’s constantly moving, and there’s a lot of variety.  I get a good sense of the creative excitement that you can get out of a Fine Arts student by making them do tons of work all of the time.


AS:      What kind of environment do you try to create in your classroom?


BO:     I put way too much thought into it!  It’s just little, simple things that create a situation where you respect one another as makers.  I feel like my classrooms are a fun environment and a safe, creative space.

The first rule of my class is that you learn everybody’s name.  I drill this into my classes!  We do different name learning exercise at the beginning of each semester to make sure it happens.  I encourage a lot of conversation and a lot of opportunities to critique each other respectfully.

I also encourage students to take ownership of what they’re doing.  I have very little patience for students who ask me what to do.  I don’t want to tell students what to do.  I want students to tell me what inspires them. 


AS:      What else do you teach in addition to Sculpture I and 3D Design?


BO:     I also teach 2D Design, and next semester, I am also teaching the Senior Exhibition class with Nicole Ferentze and Rick Valicenti, which is really exciting.  It’s a unique opportunity for Fine Arts students. Who knows what’s going to come out of that class!


AS:      Where did the idea for your upcoming exhibition, Near at Hand, come from?


BO:     There are three new hires in the Fine Arts Department, and we were each given the chance to curate an exhibition at the Ralph Arnold Gallery as a way to celebrate our first year here.

For my exhibit, I proposed a show called Near at Hand, and it features works by three Chicago artists who are really active in Chicago’s art scene right now.  I did this because part of my interest in this in curating is getting the Gallery more connected to the Chicago art scene because there are a lot of great opportunities there. 

I’m featuring sculptural works by these three artists.  They’re all very different in their approaches to making, but they all share this importance placed on the hand within making—the idea that you can see the mark of the maker in the work.  Sometimes it’s just through seeing gestures, or sometimes it’s relating to a specific craft.  For all of the artists, part of the context comes from the fact that these are very handmade things.

In a way, it’s in stark contrast to Rick Valicenti’s show (maybe) This Time, which is open right now. Everything feels so intentionally polished.  There is a veneer of class and of money, which relates to the discourse Rick is promoting.  It’s part of the concept of cultural excess in tandem with the violence and injustice that happens almost hand-in-hand.

Near at Hand is going to be almost the opposite experience.  The work is very handmade.  Some of the work feel intentionally fragile, as if it might fall over if you get too close.   There’s a tension that happens when you can see how something was built and deconstruct it in your own head as you look at it. 

But the sense of how the handmade applies to each artist is very different.  I’m excited to see all of the artists’ work in this space together because each artist has put in a lot of work, and there are few enough artists where conversations will be possible between the pieces.  For example, working with fibers has a lot in common with working with metals, or positioning things on the wall has a lot in common with positioning things on the floor.    I’m looking at the gallery as a site for these conversations about making.


AS:      How did you select the artists featured in Near at Hand?


BO:     I did a lot of research about what’s been happening in the past two or three years.  I looked at a lot of different artists, but my primary curatorial position was really about which three artists are going to be the most interesting together.  It’s much about the artists as it is about the conversation between their works in the space.  I think the mix that I’ve landed on for this show is a great combination of people who are very active in Chicago right now and people who are in tune with sculpture making right now. 

As a sculpture teacher, I feel it’s my duty to show students some sculpture! I’m really excited to expose my classes to this show.  I hope that it will be eye-opening for them.


AS:      What can you tell me about your own work?


BO:     I focus a lot on material choices, and I’m very interested in different craft techniques.  I’ve spent a lot of time learning highly specific skills: I’ve learned woodcarving, leather tooling, airbrushing, carving, and casting.  I’m interested in techniques that are traditionally masculine in some way—stuff like carving, auto body finishing, etc.

Craft has a gendered quality that I play with a lot, as do materials like wood, cork, graphite, leather—we put all of this cultural information into these materials, and they become meaningful.  Even if you’re not directly in touch with the meaning of a material, it is still there.  You can feel it in its texture, composition, and the ways that you work with it.

I try to make objects that speak about gender or subcultures.  A lot of my work is funny, too.  I try to have a sense of humor.


AS:      What are some of the current pieces you are working on?


BO:     I’m working on a huge sculpture right now that’s basically a full sized motorcycle that I’ve carved.  It’s kind of in a dirt bike style.  It’s carved out of foam, and then I’ve covered it in the polyurethane shell that has a cool, gloopy texture to it.  It plays into the childhood fantasy of having a motorcycle and the gendered conversation about motorcycles being this masculine thing.  I’m putting an intense white, matte finish on it with flakes that have a glittery, reflective surface.

The motorcycle piece will be in a show called Precariat that opens at the Hyde Park Arts Center in February.  It’s an interesting show that’s themed around some of Judith Butler’s writing, specifically the idea of different categories of identity and what happens when they intersect.  It’s in correspondence to the Art AIDS American openings that are happening.

I think it’s important that I am a working artist because my art informs my teaching, and my teaching informs my artmaking. That organic nature of both being an educator and an artist is something that can be a bonus to students if you are open to sharing your art practice.


AS:      What is some advice that you have to Fine Arts students?


BO:     If I can encourage Fine Arts students to do one thing, it is to keep making art.  No matter what or where you get to, you cannot let your art practice stagnate or you’ll just end up being behind and not keeping your creative thought process.  I always encourage students to at least have a drawing practice or have some kind of place where they are creatively making no matter what kind of day job they end up with.


AS:      What direction would you like to see the Fine Arts Department travel?


BO:     In the “academy” of Chicago, there are institutions like the Art Institute where they teach this very conceptual form of art practice, or the University of Chicago where there’s a much more formal relationship to making.

Loyola can be a place where the relationship between content and craft is at a premium.  Here, we have a lot of teachers who are conceptual, but they are also great at crafting things.  Matt Groves, for instance, is brilliant at his medium, but he’s very much involved in the ideas behind his work.

I would love to see our department situate itself as having an interesting relationship between art and craft.  I think we’re headed in an exciting direction.


Betsy Odom’s curated show Near at Hand opens at the Ralph Arnold Gallery on December 1, 2016 and runs through January 21, 2017.