Dean’s Newsletter

March 15, 2018

Deer at Tangerine Sky Park

Deer at Tangerine Sky Park, a public art project by 2013 School of Art graduate Trevor O’Tool (BFA 3-D & Expanded Media), a $75,000 commission by the Town of Marana.

Tannis Gibson, Interim Dean

Though my parents loved that I was passionate about the piano as a teenager, there came a time before completing my undergraduate degree in music when they began to ask: “What sort of jobs are out there for you?” This was a reasonable question. How do we make sure in our academic world that beyond providing a world-class education for our students in their arts disciplines, we also focus our attention on the practical ways that we equip our majors for employment? Become your own best CEO is a piece of advice I often share with students as they prepare for careers after college life. In this quickly-changing 21st century, more students will need to self-manage their careers and succeed in a variety of contexts; work experiences and classes designed to impart tangible career-oriented skills must become an integral part of their study.

Colin Blakely, Director for the School of Art, admits that it can be difficult to make a living as a professional artist if you’re outside the commercially oriented design fields. That’s why “Career Development for Visual Artists” is a compulsory class for BA Studio Art students. The aim of the class is to provide job-securing tools for all art students – whether they decide to further their career as an artist, pursue a career that is art-related, or to apply their art skills laterally to another field entirely. The class is about helping students become aware that they possess valuable skills that go beyond rendering a still life. In the pursuit of an art degree, students develop strong verbal communication skills, become adept at critical thinking and solving problems creatively. Item for item, employers across all careers are looking for these skills. The class connects students to Career Services, and students hone their artist and job resumes and research artist residencies, grants, and graduate schools.
Alongside the class, each semester a full 30% of art students participate in internships both on campus, around Tucson and in cities across the country. Art students learn on-the-job practicalities at museums, marketing firms, galleries, publishing houses, and at non-profits providing art therapy programs, community venues and support for healthy families.

UA students visit Grammy-winning Music and Film Producer Harvey Mason, Jr. at his studio in LA. The visit was facilitated by the Hanson Film Institute.

Similarly, over at Film & Television, Associate Director Yuri Makino says that the curriculum creates pathways to professional life through two courses that teach transferrable skills, and through internships. All students are required to undertake the courses and an internship to help them bridge the gap between college and the entertainment industry. In “Producing I,” students learn to distill an idea into a pitch and how to budget a project; in “Professional Practices” they refine their resumes and learn professional comportment through mock interviews, which in turn prepares them for their internship. The internship experience is vital, and leads directly or indirectly through networking opportunities to career placement.

The Hanson Film Institute supports FTV in this area. Director Vicky Westover says that part of the Institute’s mission is to provide professional development opportunities for students by bringing Film and Television industry professionals into classrooms, and taking students to Los Angeles to meet with alumni in the business of entertainment.

Shane Riches

FTV Associate Professor of Practice Shane Riches, who is a working producer and entertainment lawyer, gives an overview of the phases of film production.

At the Fred Fox School of Music, Dr. Karin Nolan is the director of a career development program that has attracted national attention. The Camerata Music Career Development Program is a multi-faceted approach to entrepreneurship, networking, community collaborations, and music career preparation. In their junior year, senior year, or graduate studies, music students involved with the Camerata program undergo training via 1-2 semesters of “Careers in Music” coursework. In these courses, students work on branding, develop professional websites, write business goals, create visual designs for letterhead and business cards, develop an online portfolio, maintain a collection of professional headshots and audio/video recordings, write professional bios, network with prominent individuals in various music industries, engage in long-term projects in their chosen music field, and publicize their projects through their websites.

Camerata is a rarity: most schools of music do not offer a year of coursework dedicated purely to the development of professional career materials in music, and school directors, professors, and authors nationwide are turning to Dr. Nolan and the Fred Fox School of Music for advice regarding objectives and implementation of the Careers in Music coursework.

Tannis Gibson Initials

Tannis Gibson
Interim Dean
UA College of Fine Arts

Student Spotlight

Juan Montoya

Congratulations to doctoral student Juan Montoya, winner of the 2018 Music Advisory Board Distinguished Graduate Student Award!

Colombian conductor Juan Montoya has won several international prizes and increasingly guest conducts around the world. His symphonic engagements have included performances with the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Bentley Repertoire Orchestra, and UiTM Symphony Orchestra (Malaysia), EAFIT Symphony Orchestra (Colombia), Surabaya Symphony Orchestra (Indonesia), the National Symphony Orchestra of Paraguay and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Montoya earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the EAFIT University, in Medellín, Colombia and a double master’s degree in piano performance and orchestral conducting from the University of Toledo.

He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral and opera conducting at the University of Arizona as a student of Dr. Thomas Cockrell. He also works under the tutelage of Vance George of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Montoya’s awards include a First Prize (Golden Baton) at the International Orchestral Conducting Competition with the National Symphony Orchestra of Paraguay in 2016, special mention from the jury at the Second Black Sea Opera Conducting Competition in Constanța, Romania in 2016, and the third place at the Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition in Rousse, Bulgaria in 2017.

Montoya's most recent opera engagements have included productions of "La bohème" (2016), "La fille du régiment" (2017), and The Marriage of Figaro (2017) with the Kuala Lumpur City Opera (Malaysia), where he has served as resident conductor since 2014. Future engagements include Humperdinck’s "Hansel and Gretel" in Malaysia and guest conducting concerts and opera in Cairo, Paraguay, Hungary, Romania, Colombia and the United States.

Below: Juan Montoya conducts the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Paraguay.

Staff Spotlight

Kimberly Mast

Kimberly Mast is the Director of the Visual Resource Center, a digital image library and resource center for art faculty and grad students in the School of Art. She has an MA in Art History, a MLS in Information Resources and Library Science, and next to books and libraries, she says her job is a perfect fit, combining her love of both art and information technologies. 

Once a large percentage of images used in teaching were digitized, she turned her attention toward educational technology and began to help faculty design and implement online and hybrid courses in D2L. She is also a second-year PhD student in the Art & Visual Culture Education program, and will present her research at the National Art Educators Association conference this month in Seattle. Her current research includes borders and convergence as presented in the missions of the Southwest. 

Last but not least, Kimberly is the proud parent of two CFA undergrads – one in music and one in art!

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