WMU School of Arts draws students and faculty creativity through exhibits

The Western Michigan University Frostic School of Art continues to successfully promote the arts through strong interaction with its students and through exhibits from around the world.

The Gwen Frostic School of Art is under the College of Fine Arts. This college began in 1905, two years after the founding of WMU. The college also covers the Department of Dance, School of Music and the Department of Theatre, according the WMU’s website.

Daniel G. Guyette, the current dean of the College of Fine Arts started his career in 2013. In fall of 2016 the College of Fine Arts has 1,155 total students majoring in the arts.

Two other significant people in the College of Fine Arts are Associate Dean Scott Irelan and Tricia Hennessy, the director of the Frostic School of Art.

Each of the schools and departments in the College of Fine Arts has an academic advisor. The academic advisor for the Frostic School of Arts is Nick Gauthier, who according to his biography on WMU’s website, joined the Frostic School of Art in Aug. 2015. Debra Gambino is the academic advisor for the Departments of Dance and Theatre. Julie Nemire is the director of advising for the School of Music.

Madeleine Helwig, a senior art history student, said the relationship between the teacher and student in the Frostic School of Art is beneficial for two reasons. Helwig said the first was students in this area of study get a well-rounded education. The second benefit is that the teachers have been known to help students in their professional careers after graduation. Helwig said she has learned so much from the people she has worked with at the Frostic School of Art.

The school regularly displays exhibits highlighting artists from around the world. An exhibit currently on display is the exhibit entitled, “After the Thrill is Gone: Fashion, Politics and Culture in Contemporary South African Art”. The exhibit is free and on display until Friday, Oct. 28 at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts on WMU’s main campus.

The Richmond Center was dedicated to the philanthropist duo James and Lois Richmond and opened nearly a decade ago.

Indra Lācis, current director of exhibitions at the Richmond Center, said exhibits such as “After the Thrill is Gone” demonstrate the Frostic School of Art’s continual commitment to showcasing contemporary pieces of art not just to the WMU community, but to people visiting from around the world.

Lācis said contemporary art gives people a distinct voice in education, and that this style of art is a commentary on the current state of a society.

The exhibit features the works of 14 artists, who as the name of the exhibit suggests, focuses their work on topics such as fashion, politics and culture. The artists use a variety of mediums including photography, collage, installation, weaving, video, tapestry, sculpture and performance. The artists use these different mediums to discuss topics such as sexual orientation, gender identity, female oppression, domestic labor and immigration among others, according to the press release for the exhibit.

Andrew Hennlich, assistant professor of art history at WMU and curator for the “After the Thrill is Gone” exhibit, said planning for this exhibit began in 2014. Hennlich said he visited South Africa and also Zimbabwe three times for research trips for this exhibit. Hennlich also stated that this exhibit is unique because it is the first of its kind at WMU.

Hennlich said the importance and overall lesson he hopes people learn from this exhibit is to show people how visual cultures in other parts of the world function. 

Funding for this exhibit is provided by the Provost’s Visiting Scholars and Artists Program and the Gwen Frostic School of Art at WMU.

The Richmond Center for Visual Arts is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Richmond Center is closed on Sunday.

Further information on the College of Fine Arts can be found on WMU’s website. The College of Fine Arts and the Gwen Frostic School of Art also can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Other schools and departments under the College of Fine Arts can be found on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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