Meet the Department of Art and Art History

Nestled right next to one of SSU’s three lakes stands the Department of Art and Art History, a place where creativity never stops. It’s true, the art studios are open 24/7 for students to creatively engage in each piece of work they produce. From oil paintings that look identical to a photo or a sculpture that exceeds an average height of an adult, the work created throughout this building is due to the faculty and staff’s encouragement and authenticity to bring about a student’s voice.

The department has two majors, Art History and Art Studio, with concentration emphases in ceramics, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and works on paper. Faculty and staff contribute to making the Art and Art History department a collective place for students to learn the fundamentals skills and then collectively guide each individual in their own direction artistically and creatively.

“It’s really important to foster each student’s own artistic evolution. They get a rigorous education here. By the time they graduate, they’re not really done, they are just beginning” shared Jann Nunn, professor of sculpture.

The art department is unique in a variety of ways. It is not just the courses that make the department strong, but also the facilities and events that come with it. One of those facilities is the University Art Gallery, which has five exhibitions a year. Three of those showcase the work of professional artists from around the world, and the other two consist of artwork created by SSU students. Many are not aware that these art exhibitions are open to all students across campus. Any student, regardless of their major, has the opportunity to submit work at the juried shows.

“The gallery shows are a variety of contemporary work that relates to the University’s curriculum” shared Michael Schwager, professor of art history and director of the University Art Gallery.

The Department of Art and Art History creates a basis for students and faculty to learn. Visual Resources Specialist Karen Kessel provides digital workshops to the University throughout the semester, using the power of art to relate to all subjects. Nunn is also incorporating cross-disciplinary education. Next spring, she is teaching an upper division elective called, “The Art of Critical Making.” This class is open to non-art majors at the junior and senior level who want to create sculpture incorporating research from their respective fields of study.

From sharing information, showcasing artists’ work, and providing alternative resources for the campus, the University Art Gallery is also in the process of cataloging a collection for faculty and staff use. This will allow employees to search through a variety of artwork and have it displayed in their departments and offices. Some displays have already been featured in the Green Music Center and Person Theatre.

Within the walls of the art building remains an exploration and abundance of creativity. This is a place where faculty and staff continue to work hard in order to enhance the learning of each student that walks in.

Please say hello to the Department of Art and Art History.


Back row: Jennifer Bethke, Libby Black, Michael Schwager, Carla Stone, Jennifer Roberson, John Scott Forester, Shenny Cruces; Middle Row: Karen Kessel, Matthew Barnes, Cindy Menghini, Gregory Roberts, Nathan Haenlein, Jennifer Shaw, Jann Nunn, Allison Watkins; Bottom Row: Kurt Kemp, Mark Perlman, Carlos Merino de Villasante


Upcoming dates:

March 13 – April 13 – West Coast Ink: Printmaking from San Diego to Seattle at University Art Gallery

April 1 – July 12 – Divergent Acts: Current Work By SSU Sculpture Alumni

April 17 – May 10 – BFA Exhibition 2014

For more information contact:


– Casey Marshall, WorkPlace Editor