News & Events

Waubonsee Recognizes Its Art Program

woman points at a painting in a gallery while two students look on
Waubonsee Community College Assistant Professor of Art Heather Weber explains a piece of art in the Arrowhead Room exhibit space on the college's Sugar Grove Campus. This month the Art Department is being highlighted by the board of trustees as part of the "Placing Learning First: Faculty and Program Recognition."

Thanks to its extensive exhibit spaces, outstanding faculty and involvement in the local arts community, Waubonsee Community College's Art Department has built a solid reputation for quality. This month the department is being spotlighted by the college's board of trustees as part of the college's "Placing Learning First: Faculty and Program Recognition."  

Art has been a part of Waubonsee's curricula from the start. There were 10 art courses listed in the 1967-68 College Catalog; that list has grown to the 38 courses currently offered, which include transfer- and career-oriented courses in art history, photography, drawing, ceramics, painting and more.  

"I feel art is a need not a choice," said Professor of Art/Painting/Drawing Martine Stuckey. "I often tell my students that art is not therapy or an occupation, it is a vocation."

While a need that strong can certainly be nurtured in the classroom, true artists are compelled to exhibit their work to a wider audience, and Waubonsee provides plenty of opportunities. Between the Sugar Grove and Aurora Campuses, there are five different exhibit spaces where students can temporarily display their works, while all four of Waubonsee's campuses feature permanent displays of student art acquired through the college's Student Art Purchase Program. Since the program's launch seven years ago, nearly 150 pieces of student artwork have been purchased by and displayed at the college.

This month the college's primary exhibit space, the Arrowhead Room in Dickson Center on the Sugar Grove Campus, is taking center stage, hosting the annual Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Juried Art Competition. Running through April 30, the exhibit features the work of 21 student artists from eight area community colleges.   

Of course, professional artists also exhibit their work on campus and often give workshops to help students get a deeper understanding of the artistic process and professional art world.

"During the workshops, students interact with a professional artist to learn real world experience and discuss contemporary issues in the field," said Associate Professor of Art/Ceramics Doug Jeppesen. "The Ceramics Club has also established a permanent collection of contemporary ceramics, which is now distributed around campus. This collection is an excellent record of our visiting artists; it has added interest to the program; and it is an excellent teaching/learning tool for our students." 

Actually, Waubonsee students are learning from professional artists each and every day, as all three full-time art faculty are active in their respective fields.     

Stuckey, who joined the college as a full-time instructor in 1994, exhibits her work while attaining such teaching accolades as Waubonsee's 2005 Outstanding Faculty Member Award. Stuckey earned both her bachlor's and master's degrees at Queens College, City University of New York. 

Achieving the 2011 Outstanding Faculty Member Award was Stuckey's colleague Jeppesen. Having earned two bachelor's degrees at the University of Tulsa and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University, Jeppesen continues to display his ceramics work in solo and group exhibitions across the country.

Assistant Professor of Art Heather Weber brings an art history/curatorial perspective to Waubonsee's program. After earning her bachelor's degree from Miami University of Ohio, a master's degree in art history at Northern Illinois University and a Certificate of Museum Studies, Weber joined Waubonsee in 2006. In addition to teaching, she also serves as the curator of the Northeastern Illinois University Fine Arts Center Gallery in Chicago. 

Waubonsee faculty members and students are able to teach and learn using state-of-the-art facilities, including a digital photography laboratory and one of the most comprehensive ceramics set-ups in the area. The Ceramics Building features seven electric kilns and two stoneware gas kilns, while the Sugar Grove Campus' outdoor kiln shelter houses four wood-fired kilns -- a 180-cubic-foot kiln, a Bourry Box train kiln, a wood salt kiln and one of only three anagama kilns in the state. 

"Our outdoor kiln facility is the envy of every ceramics person who sees it," Jeppesen said. "We continue to provide our students with the best tools so they can achieve their dream of having the best educational experience possible." 

The best educational experience also involves getting off campus and into the community. Waubonsee students have exhibited their work at various community locations, such as the Paramount Theatre, Yorkville City Hall, Wendy Ellyn Salon and McAuley Manor. They have also painted a mural at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles and knitted hats for Mutual Ground. 

The Art Department is hoping to have all of its hard work recognized at the national level, as they are pursuing program accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). 

To learn more about Waubonsee's art exhibits, courses and programs, please visit www.waubonsee.edu/art.