Art geeks, brace yourselves — last fall semester, a brand new artist-in-residence position was created at Elizabethtown College. Since then, artist Lou Schellenberg has been developing her role in this new position.
Schellenberg is by no means a guest at Etown. She’s been a faculty member for the fine arts department at the College for years. When she didn’t want to teach full-time anymore, Provost Susan Traverso thought up an alternative.
“I wanted to change the nature of my position and wasn’t quite sure how to go about doing so that would benefit the program and the school, and the Provost came up with the idea of this artist-in-residence position,” Schellenberg said.
The role of an artist-in-residence is different at various institutions, but one is typically brought in from outside of the College. Artists then share their experiences either inside or outside a classroom setting. Some artists-in-residence are chosen because they have a certain expertise or come from a specific location. Others are often only guests or visitors brought to a college for a week or so.
Because the position of artist-in-residence is so new to Etown, Schellenberg claims that the process of developing events has been sluggish.
She said, “The honest answer’s that it’s been off to a slow start. It’s the first year trying to germinate ideas and to publicize them has been a little slow … I’ve done informal things with some current majors, and I’ve met with some recent art alumni graduates. So, just being a presence outside the classroom.”
So far, Schellenberg has done a talk for Assistant Director of Academic Advising Jean-Paul Benowitz’s Living Learning Community’s Fantabulous Fridays series. She also has an installation of her artwork on the second floor of the High Library called “Drawing as a Process,” which will be featured until March 30.
She described the installation as “that process of being on-site and looking at things and doing small sketches… and then maybe a watercolor from a sketch, and then maybe an oil… So it doesn’t just happen without these different stages, for the way I work — not everyone works that way.”
Some of Schellenberg’s works are also featured in the Faculty Art Show, which runs until April 20.
Schellenberg came to teach at Etown after attaining her Master of Fine Arts degree in upstate New York. Hailing from the New England area, she went to college at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. When she began teaching, the arts division at Etown was very small. Though the College now offers a major in fine arts, it was developed fairly recently.
In addition to maintaining her new position, Schellenberg is also teaching two courses this semester.
On teaching, she said, “I really do enjoy teaching the core students who are showing an interest and then seeing that they can learn to do this. That it is — drawing especially — something that can be a learned skill. So that’s gratifying… I also really enjoy working with some majors over time, especially in the painting classes. It’s been really rewarding to see certain art majors evolve.”
Though she enjoys teaching, not all of it is fun. “What I don’t like about it? I don’t like having to give grades,” she laughed.
Though the artist-in-residence position has been off to a slow start, she has big plans for the coming fall semester. Schellenberg would like to focus on teaching beyond the normal art courses. “I’d like to do some workshops that could be a half-day workshop, or even a one-day workshop that involves learning situations outside the normal classes,” she said.
Schellenberg also expressed an interest in sketching outside in the fall and some watercolor workshops. She’d like these possible event ideas to be all-inclusive.“ Those could be open to the whole campus. It doesn’t just have to be for just art majors.”
Schellenberg’s passion for sharing her knowledge about art is apparent in her new position, and she seems eager to utilize her new role and to work outside the classroom this coming fall.
“It’s just making the arts more accessible to students across campus,” Schellenberg said.