We need the arts now, more than ever. In this troubling time, as we isolate and maneuver through the pandemic, we have probably found ourselves listening to music, watching movies, reading books, or perusing museum websites all the time. We have turned to the arts for safety and security, maybe without even realizing it.
We may not have always thought the arts play a vital role in our daily routine, but stop and ask yourself one question: “What would our lives have been like over these last 7-8 months without the arts?” It is a daunting question to think about, but the arts are vital to our very survival, and without them, the world would be a much different place, and we would definitely be less enriched. The arts are everywhere, and many of us probably take them for granted until this year, but we have been forced to change our behaviors and possibly rediscover the arts.
For me, the arts are an integral part of my life. I’m an Associate Professor of Art and Ceramics at Waubonsee Community College, a working studio artist, and an amateur musician; I play trumpet in the College Jazz Combo. Being a studio artist and musician certainly informs and influences my teaching. My mornings begin around 6:30 a.m. working on my computer as I enjoy a cup or two of coffee from a hand-made mug while listening to music. It’s a simple morning activity, but for me, having a cup of coffee from a hand-made mug connects me to a past visiting artist who was invited to the college through the student-run Ceramics Club to present a two-day workshop in the ceramics studio.
I am fortunate to have a career where I am surrounded by creative individuals working in the studio. It makes things seem like I never feel like I am actually at work.
Our Art Department is one of two community colleges in the state that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and only about 17% of all college art departments across the entire country are accredited by this academic body. We are proud to provide our community with the highest level of artistic education with transferrable courses to universities across the country. Our Ceramics Studio is housed in its own building and is a state-of-the-art facility with areas for hand building and wheel throwing, a designated glaze application room, multiple electric and gas-fired kilns, separate rooms for clay and glaze making with proper ventilation, and the exterior kiln yard houses six atmospheric wood and soda fired kilns that were built during classes over the years, giving students hands-on experience with the material.
I also work side by side with my students, engaging with them in the learning process. I want them to see me make mistakes and solve problems along the way. I want them to understand that I do not simply teach this material, but I work with it every single day. Our other art studio classes are housed in Von Ohlen Hall, which recently went under a major renovation over the summer. That building has studios for drawing, painting, design, and traditional and digital photography. And we have graphic design courses in the Henning Computer Center.
If you’re looking for a career that enriches the soul and your community, please check out our course offerings. You’ll be amazed at what we have to offer.
Doug Jeppesen, Associate Professor of Art and Ceramics
November 12, 2020