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Dean’s Newsletter

February 9, 2018

Tannis Gibson, Interim Dean

In the months since July, when I began my role as the Interim Dean, I have become immersed in the creativity and the vitality that emanates daily from the classrooms, theatres, editing suites, rehearsal spaces and studios throughout our Fine Arts campus. It’s not that creativity doesn’t happen elsewhere – it’s that creative thinking is at the heart of every Fine Arts activity.

Over the course of this year, one of my primary goals has been to increase the visibility of some of these activities, to ignite inspiration, and through sharing some of these experiences, encourage you to attend more of the public events that happen across our college. So read on, and prepare to be amazed. One of our goals: to have you join us in the near future in the Fine Arts complex (corner of Speedway and Park) and at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater, and see for yourself how we are helping to shape the creative thinkers of the future.

President Robbins joins UA dancers in Repertoire class
as they prepare for the upcoming concert
Dances Near & Far

Last month we were delighted to host the first visit by President Robert C. Robbins to the College of Fine Arts so that he could see up close the talent and creativity that are our hallmarks. He spent most of his nearly 3-hour visit interacting with fine arts students in their classrooms, theatres and performance spaces, where his activities ranged from participating in a 1-minute art sculpture project, to learning palmas, or hand clapping, in an introductory tango class. His visit concluded with a Q&A session in which he stressed the importance of the arts within the University’s strategic vision. Students participated from Dance, Music, Arizona Choir, First Year Experience, Acting, Musical Theatre and Film, and their participation filled us all with pride.

Student Spotlight

Karlito Miller Espinosa

Mata Ruda

I was first introduced to the thrilling work of MFA student Karlito Miller Espinosa (A.K.A. Mata Ruda) at a conference hosted by our School of Art here on campus. Karlito is a conceptual street muralist – yes, that’s as cool as it sounds – and, along with public commissions in dozens of cities across the country, his work has been exhibited both here and abroad, from the Street Art Museum in Russia to the Newark Museum in New Jersey.

Mata Ruda’s Protectress. Painted in 2016 in Kiev, Ukraine, the mural is located in Independence Square, site of the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution.

He creates murals and paintings that shift the viewer away from the usual discourse and empower overlooked communities, illustrate local cultures, and speak to contemporary social issues. Recent projects include Protectress, a representation of Berehynia, a female spirit in Slavic mythology, which graces a wall in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, and Hijos de la Tierra, an ecology-themed mural for EARTH University in Costa Rica.

Faculty Spotlight

Matt Mugmon

Matt Mugmon

Assistant Professor of Music, Matt Mugmon, who currently holds the Daveen Fox Endowed Chair in the Fred Fox School of Music, does not follow mainstream models of teaching music history. And his students have come to know that they are likely to find themselves in unusual circumstances! Last spring, under Matt’s guidance, they made a trip to New York City to dig though archival materials at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center (New York Philharmonic) and to attend concerts in the famed venues. In Matt’s Introduction to Music course, freshmen move through history via important music premieres, the benchmarks that open up fresh opportunities for a deeper contextual understanding. The course culminates with students experiencing the process of creating their own premiere, complete with a commission, a first performance, and an audience to witness the event.

Carnegie Hall archivist Gino Francesconi (third from right) with Matt Mugmon (center) and students at Carnegie Hall.

Matt’s research focuses on the music of Gustav Mahler, Aaron Copland, and Natalie Boulanger, and the unexpected ways that their work and influence have intersected in the years immediately following World War I. Appointed as the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence for 2015-2016, Matt assumed research and educational roles for the New York Philharmonic during its concert season.

As one of the Fred Fox School of Music’s treasured faculty, Matt exemplifies forward thinking and engagement in his approach to teaching. We are proud to have him as a valued member of our CFA faculty community.

Tannis Gibson Initials

Tannis Gibson
Interim Dean
UA College of Fine Arts


Around the Bend

February 8

The School of Art presents a conversation with visiting artists Tobias Fike, Nazafarin Lotfi and Sarah McKenzie. The artists’ works are featured in Elsewhere, an invitational exhibition curated by Brooke Grucella and Martina Shenal in the Joseph Gross Gallery. More information on the School of Art website.


February 21 – February 25

The Stevie Eller Dance Theatre comes alive with Dances Near & Far, a collection of dances representing twelve countries, including choreography by Flamenco artist Pablo Rodarte, a Chinese fan dance by guest artist Liang Huang and a medley of American dance through the years, from the Charleston to Hip Hop. Tickets are available online.


February 25 – March 2

The 40th annual AzJazz Week boasts an eclectic lineup of groups and artists, and a notable final concert on March 2 featuring students from the School of Music’s jazz and orchestra programs, vocalist and UA alumna Katherine Bynes, and pianist and Professor Emeritus Jeff Haskell. More info at 520-621-1655.


February 7 – February 25

The Arizona Repertory Theatre brings to the stage Doubt, A Parable, the brilliantly crafted work of playwright John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Professor Hank Stratton, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play runs through February at the Marroney Theatre. Tickets are available online.


February 10

In partnership with the UA Museum of Art, the Hanson Film Institute presents a free screening of REMBRANDT: From the National Gallery, London and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam at the Center for Creative Photography. The film documents a landmark exhibition whilst interweaving Rembrandt’s life story with behind-the-scenes preparations at these world-famous institutions. More information on Facebook.


February 14

Jazz vocalist René Marie combines an incredible voice with fiery independence and originality, bucking trends with her unabashed spirit. In a span of two decades, eleven recordings, and countless stage performances, she has cemented her reputation as a singer, composer, arranger, theatrical performer, and teacher. One night only at the Fox Tucson Theatre. More information on the UA Presents website.


The College of Fine Arts Dean’s newsletters are edited by Kerryn Negus.

Dean's Newsletter

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