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.
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.
UA College of Fine Arts
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.
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.
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.
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.