Art set for major impact at FPU
After years in the minors, art is becoming a major player at FPU.
This fall the university upgraded its art minor to a full major, with concentrations in art administration, graphic arts and studio arts. Faculty members are Rebecca McMillen and Chris Janzen.
Students will exhibit their work, tour museums, explore internships and become a part of area art events. Small class sizes will encourage individual attention.
Work on the major began in fall 2007. Research had shown many prospective students were interested in art. The content of the program will equal that of a large university, Janzen said, "but with a community-action based component."
McMillen and Janzen plan to build on FPU's history of producing teachers. "Our goal is to get these out-of-the-box skills to the next generation," Janzen said.
"The state system has pulled art out of the system," McMillen said. "That makes a huge deficit."
In addition to education, many fields are open to art graduates. Common job titles include animator, art buyer/consultant, art director, graphic designer, creative director, critic, fine artist, illustrator and industrial designer.
Janzen told of friends who found visual art and music studies even helped them get into medical school. "They have the ability to improvise," he said.
Art uses parts of the brain other disciplines do not. It also has a history of challenging society and improving it. "Art is very important to move us forward," Janzen said.
"Art is part of the bigger picture," McMillen said. Part of that bigger picture is faith. "Christianity and the church have had a somewhat negative view of art, particularly the visual arts, and the arts can unleash so many positive things," she added.
Creativity comes from God, so Christians should be creative. "We shouldn't be afraid of that," McMillen said. The question is: "How will I express myself in a way God has called me?"
McMillen is program director. She teaches art appreciation, history of Western art, art and religion, world art, museum studies, exhibition and gallery design and has a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Janzen earned a B.A. from Bethel College, Kansas, and an M.F.A. from the University of South Dakota. He teaches drawing and painting and also directs the FPU Jazz Ensemble.