Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

August 17, 2004

National Endowment for the Arts Funds Visiting Artists Series at Whitworth

Whitworth College has been awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant under the "Challenge America: Access to the Arts" program. The $15,000 grant supports the development of the Visiting Artists in Printmaking program, with a focus on multicultural artists, who will conduct printing workshops on campus and work with faculty and students on creating original prints. The next two artists in the series will be Native American painter Ric Gendron of Spokane, who will visit Whitworth's campus March 21-April 22, 2005, and Nihonga artist Makato Fujimura of New York, who will be on campus Oct. 17-Nov. 18, 2005.

The NEA awarded 366 grants under this competitive program. Only 18 of those grants went to colleges and universities. Whitworth was the only grant recipient in Spokane, with the 11 other grants in Washington going to Seattle-area arts organizations.

"Our intention is to work hard to bring in individuals who will challenge and educate our students about race, cultural diversity, gender, and other social/political justice issues," says Associate Professor of Art Scott Kolbo, the grant's project director. "Whitworth's art faculty believes that this fits in perfectly with the college's mission as well as with the commitment to encourage our student body to be more engaged with justice issues from an integrated faith perspective."

The Visiting Artists in Printmaking program makes it possible for Whitworth students and faculty to work with professional artists in short-term printing workshops. Using the college's new printmaking and digital-imaging equipment and materials, artists are invited to create images that relate to their body of work and to discuss their process and inspiration with the students.

The students will work as assistants in the process and will participate in printing the images as part of a new venture: The Loop Press at Whitworth College. Whitworth business students, under the supervision of Associate Professor of Marketing Brad Sago, will develop a business plan for marketing the original prints, which will be signed and numbered by the artist. Proceeds from the print sales will be put back into the program to fund other visiting artists as well as the creation of new print editions.

"Working collaboratively with a professional artist in the printmaking studio allows students to expand their own visual vocabulary and helps them learn from experienced artists themes and working methods," Kolbo says. "The end results are sophisticated student work and valuable links to what is currently happening in the contemporary art world."

An authoritative voice on the nature and cultural assessment of beauty, Fujimura uses the traditional Japanese art of Nihonga to create abstract images. His paintings address the creative process and what it means to see, moving the observer from cognitive categorization to visceral experience. Fujimura has exhibited work both nationally and internationally, and his work has been reviewed in Art in America and Art News. In 1992, he was honored as the youngest artist ever to have had a piece acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Using the pop-culture iconography of contemporary America mixed with symbols from his Native American heritage, Gendron expresses the tension of living in these two worlds. The Spokane native and member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation has had five solo exhibits in the Northwest and has also had exhibits in group shows locally and nationally. He received Best of Division and first place in the painting division at Indian Art Northwest, in Portland, Ore. Gendron has also completed murals for three public art commissions and is published in Indian Country Today and Native Peoples of the Northwest.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,300 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Scott Kolbo, assistant professor of art, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4711 or skolbo@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitorth.edu.

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