The professional and personal relationships made in college can last far beyond a student's collegiate years, and ASU’s School of Art will be honoring those relationships with an upcoming exhibit featuring current mentors and their former students.
Four faculty members who specialize in different artistic mediums were selected for the exhibit and were given the opportunity to choose 20 former students with whom they had meaningful mentor relationships to be featured alongside them.
The alumni chosen have graduation years ranging from as recently as May 2018 to as far back as 1990.
Jessica Palomo, the student and community engagement specialist for the School of Art, said the exhibition is an opportunity to reestablish ties with the ASU community, both past and present.
“To me, the health of a school really thrives on the community within it and I think it's important to recognize the efforts that go into nurturing these relationships,” she said.
This is the first event of its kind but Palomo said she hopes to turn the exhibition into a reoccurring event to honor different faculty members and alumni each time.
One of the faculty members chosen for the exhibition is drawing and painting professor Janice Pittsley who chose Melissa Button, assistant program director and lecturer in the School of Art, as a featured alumna artist.
Button, who first received a bachelor's degree in architecture at ASU before returning and receiving her M.F.A. in painting in 2001, is also an organizer of the exhibition. She said it was an honor to be chosen by Pittsley.
“When somebody you really respect turns around and says ‘you mean something to me, too,’ it’s hard not to be moved by that,” Button said.
She also echoed the sentiment of the exhibit and the importance of the relationships made through academics during the college years.
“In these large institutions it's hard to find these more personal moments,” she said. “I think that the reputation of our school is rooted in the relationships our faculty make with the students, and when we are reaching out to our alumni that's what gets them excited.”
Kathryn Maxwell, associate dean and professor in the School of Art, was also chosen for the exhibition. Maxwell said these relationships go both ways and that professors feel a similar sentiment about their students who choose to pursue education.
“If you hear someone say, ‘I want to be like you in this way,’ it means they recognize your contribution and they’re going to keep this contribution going,” she said. “It’s not immortality, and I’m not looking for that … but it’s a continuity that is necessary.”
Click through to see works from two featured alumni, Hans Miles and Patrick Vincent.
Another faculty member chosen for the show is regents professor in the School of Art Kurt Weiser. His student Hans Miles, who received his B.F.A. in ceramics at ASU in 2018, said the lessons he learned from Weiser went beyond the curriculum taught in class.
“He taught me definitely a lot about clay but also about what it is to be an artist, about workmanship, work ethic and how to get along with other people,” he said. “It’s just been really inspirational to me.”
Mary Neubauer, a president's professor and another faculty member honored in the exhibition, said galleries like this also offer lessons for incoming and current students.
“I think it sets an example for our current students that here are some ASU graduates, they have succeeded through their education at this institution,” she said.
Patrick Vincent, a featured alumnus who received his M.F.A. in printmaking at ASU in 2012, said this exhibition proves that a person’s education and the mentor relationships formed in school are important even after graduation.
“I think it just proves that you're being effective or that those relationships aren't just tied to the academic system,” he said. “That they're also personal relationships, because as time goes on… those relationships are still meaningful.”
The “Faculty Mentor/Alumni Exhibition” will be open Nov. 29 to Dec. 15 with an opening reception on Nov. 30. The exhibition will be featured in the Step Gallery in the Herberger Institute’s Grant Street Studios in downtown Phoenix.
Correction: due to an editing error, Jessica Palomo's name was misspelled on second reference. The article has been updated to reflect this change.