Chancellor visits new arts project at A-State

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It was back to the drawing board for A-State Chancellor Dr. Kelly Damphousse Wednesday as members of the Department of Art and Design at ASU work to provide a foundation for their newest project.

The Department of Art and Design at Arkansas State University have started an initiative called, "Learn to Look."

The purpose of the initiative is to promote how drawing can be a useful skill with people in majors other than art.

Chancellor Dr. Kelly Damphousse joined the students in Drawing I to see what it was all about.

"I've been going around meeting with faculty in all our departments," Chancellor Damphousse said. "I came here to visit one day in the fine arts building and I walked by this classroom and I saw people drawing and I said 'Hey, I love to draw!' And they said I needed to come and visit their class someday. So, I've been waiting for a time for it to fit in my schedule and finally got a time today to come and learn how our great professors are interacting with our students and learn more about the medium they're using and to learn more about our students' experiences. I like to, as much as possible, live in our student's shoes and learn more about their life."

Foundations instructor Cara Sullivan said they want to open people's mind up.

"Today, we're going to be doing some perceptual exercises in drawing," Sullivan said. "One of the main things that we want to do in foundations in the art department to prepare our students to be creative is to talk to them about learning to see. Because most often we find that everyone is looking at images all the time and we look at them very quickly. So, we're looking all the time, but we're not always seeing. And that's the key to perception. Is to learn how to see. And so, through various drawing exercises, we're teaching our students when they're seeing and when they're not seeing. And once you have some kind of understanding of that you start to see more because that is what really separates artists and designers from everyone else. Is that are seeing things other people don't typically notice. And that's the magic of being keyed into that mindset and perception."

Damphousse said the Art and Design Department is an important and vital part of the educational system.

"The fine arts," Damphousse said. "Are such an integral part of the educational system that we have. In a lot of places, the first thing they cut is the fine arts program. And art makes the world so much better and I love that we have a great art program here and I want to be very supportive of the arts."

Sullivan said she thought having Damphousse in class was good for the students to see.

"I am thrilled," Sullivan said. "I'm totally thrilled. He actually dropped by and got a selfie on a tour one time with my drawing students last semester. So, it's really wonderful to have the Chancellor back. We love how much he is everywhere. He participates in what we're doing and I think it makes a really big impression on students to see him here. Drawing can be an intimidating prospect for a lot of people, even students going into art. They're sort of afraid of drawing and we would like to break down that perception of drawing and really show students that it's really a way of thinking and a way of finding. And so, we do a lot of searching when we're drawing and to have the Chancellor come in and to have various people from all over campus come in as a part of our learning to see program that we're developing. We're inviting people from all over campus and different disciplines to visit with us. To sit down and draw and show everyone that this is an endeavor that anyone can sit down and practice to become more perceptive. And it's a wonderful message for students to have him here today with them doing the work."

Damphousse said he likes to interact one on one with both the faculty and students.

"I didn't know anyone knew I was coming," Damphousse said. "I've done this in a couple of departments. Not exactly this thing, but hanging out with students and interacting with them informally. And we've got great instructors here and I've got a lot to learn about drawing. I'm a painter, not a drawer, so I have a lot to learn and I'm excited about doing that."

Sophomore Rachel Flippen, who is an art education major, said she was excited when she found out the chancellor was going to be in their class.

"I thought it was really cool that he was coming," Flippen said. "That he was coming to join us and be involved in the classes that he oversees. So, it's cool. He's been at some other stuff I was at too, so I think that's really nice."

For more information about the Art and Design Department at ASU, click here.

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