Showing posts from August, 2014

MFA Acting Alumna Becomes Famous in Japan

Charlotte Fox, a 2013 graduate of the MFA in Acting program in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, took a chance and through that has become famous as an actor on a TV series in Japan. Because of her new notoriety, Charlotte is on the cover of, and featured inside, the new issue of Backstage magazine. Backstage is the primary source of auditions and industry news for actors on both coasts and across the United States.

Our friends at NIU Today have written about Charlotte's accomplishment - please check out the NIU Today article here and the Backstage article here.

Congratulations, Charlotte!

Avalon String Quartet Violist Named Artistic Director of Rush Hour Concerts

Tony Devroye,  Associate Professor of viola at the Northern Illinois University (NIU) School of Music and violist of the famed Avalon String Quartet, has been named the new Artistic Director of Rush Hour Concerts (RHC), the 15-year-old organization that brings high quality classical music to the public for free in its weekly summer concert series at St. James Cathedral (65 E. Huron St. in River North). Devroye has served the organization this year as Consulting Artistic Director, working closely with Interim Artistic Director Brant Taylor and Associate Artistic Director Kuang-Hao Huang to preserve the mission and vision of RHC founder and former Creative Director Deborah Sobol, who passed away unexpectedly last January. The announcement of Devroye’s new title with RHC, which takes effect immediately, was made this past Tuesday night, August 26, at the final concert of the 2014 season.

Huang will continue in his capacity as Associate Artistic Director with RHC, primarily overseeing Mak…

Sculpture Professor's Work Appears in Solo Exhibition

Mike Rea, assistant professor of sculpture in the NIU School of Art and Design, will have several of his works on display at a solo exhibition at the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University. The show is entitled MIKE REA: scenes of sights and sounds of scenes.

The press release for the exhibition states "Mike Rea has conflated the notions of working hard and playing hard for over a decade with his bombastic wooden sculptures. Replicated and reinvented moments of cinematic horror, science fiction, comedy and drama intermingle with memory to form bizarre personal narratives. Over the years, each uncanny conglomeration of familiar objects and themes has both thrilled and confounded audiences. The delight in the experience of Mike Rea’s vision is the balance between a feeling of understanding that is quickly replaced by new, surprising discoveries. Whether as conventional sculptures standing alone, or as props in interactive installations and performances, these often-massiv…

Art Faculty Member Featured in Interview

Geoffrey Todd Smith, Instructor in the NIU School of Art and Design, is featured in an interview on the website Inside/Within. In the interview, Geoffrey discusses the techniques and approaches he uses to create his paintings, as well as his influences from his childhood and the present. The interview provides terrific insight into the thoughts and processes and motivations behind his work - a great read!

New Feature Film Spotlights Work of NIU Professor and Alumna

Rachel Rozycki (l.), Melanie Parks at the Premiere of Hogtown
Hogtown is a new independent feature film directed by Daniel Nearing with 9:23 Films. Hogtown premiered on August 22, 2014, at the Gene Siskel Film Center to a sold-out house. Hogtown also sold out for the second preview on August 25, 2014.

One of the film's producers, Rachel Rozycki, is an NIU Acting alumna (2000). Rachel earned her MFA in film production in 2013 at Governor's State University, and she was recently on the archival team for the Steve James film Life Itself.

Melanie Parks, Associate Dean of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts and a professor in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, designed the costumes for the film.

Hogtown is a feature-length, black and white experimental dramatic film set in circa 1919 Chicago. Hogtown has been accepted into the Calgary International Film Festival in September.

Congratulations Melanie and Rachel!

Printmaking Professor Featured in International Triennial

Michael Barnes, professor of printmaking in the NIU School of Art and Design, is off to Serbia where his work is being featured in the Second International Printmaking Triennial. Held in Belgrade, the exhibition of Michael's work is being presented at the Centre for Graphic Arts and Visual Researches AKADEMIJA, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Arts Belgrade.

While in Serbia, Michael will also be working at the Centre for Graphic Arts and Visual Research for two weeks to present lectures, panels, workshops, and to publish a work of art with their master printer. The travel and professional activities are being funded by the Fulbright Specialist Project that Michael was just awarded.

About his work, the Triennial website states "Michael Barnes critically treats aggressiveness in human nature, by analyzing the form of weapons through his explicit commitment to meticulous drawing and skillful usage of lithographic media."

Congratulations, Michael!

Music Professor Emeritus Staying Busy

Robert Fleisher (Professor Emeritus, NIU School of Music) retired on June 1, following more than three decades teaching music theory, aural skills and composition at NIU. On June 8, his Five Songs from Carl Sandburg’s “Prairie” were performed in St. Petersburg, FL as part of the New Music Conflagration concert series. Over 300 works were submitted from more than 30 countries, of which the NMC selected 25 for its inaugural season. In July, Dr. Fleisher’s Ma mère was selected by cellist Ovidiu Marinescu and Parma Recordings for a forthcoming CD, the program of which will be performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City next spring. Most recently, Dr. Fleisher participated in the 2014 Parma Music Festival (August 12-16) in Portsmouth, NH, where his electro-acoustic composition, Dans le piano, was heard.

Jazz Professor Noted on Chicago Symphony Orchestra Website

Some readers may recall the tremendous news and accolades afforded to Geof Bradfield, professor of Jazz Studies in the NIU School of Music (here and here).

Now, Geof's work is being noted even more broadly as his work in creating Melba! is noted on the website of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In the paragraph about Geof's work, the link to the NPR page brings up the performance of Melba! that was presented at NIU.

Congratulations, Geof!

Dance Students Practice Philanthropy

Each year, a group of undergraduate dance majors from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance collaborate with art and music students, as well as community artists, to produce an event known as "Art for Life." This event is a fundraiser for the Chicago chapter of Dance for Life. This past school year the event took place on December 7, 2013 at Huntley Middle School in DeKalb

We're very pleased to announce that the event raised a significant amount of funding. Above is a photo of
Anthony Guerrero, producer of Dance for Life Chicago, receiving a check in the amount of $2,000.00 from
Maggie Priore, senior dance major (graduated May 2014) at NIU and coordinator of Art for Life. Maggie was able to present the check to Anthony on June 5, 2014.

Congratulations to Maggie and all the NIU arts students who helped make this fundraiser such a success!

Dance Instructor Earns Continued Notoriety

Autumn Eckman, instructor of dance in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, has been extremely busy lately and has earned several kudos for her recent work:

- Autumn was recognized by Dance Magazine for women in choreography

- She was named as one of Chicago's "Top 50 Players in the Arts" by NewCity Publication.

- This past March, Autumn choreographed the premiere of "Mist" for the Giordano Dance Chicago in collaboration with Chicago choral group " Bella Voce"

- This summer and fall Autumn is serving as Artist-In-Residence with the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara for the creation of the full length ballet "Scheherazade," for their 20th anniversary season

- Autumn's 2013 Work "JOLT" (Giordano Dance Chicago) was selected to be performed in Dance For Life, August 16, 2014.

- Autumn was selected as dancer in a new work by Ron De Jesus in  Lar Lubavich's Chicago Dancing Festival, August 22, 2014.

Congratulations, Autumn!

School of Art Impacts Camp Power

Camp Power has been a new-for-2014 endeavor between NIU, the City of DeKalb, and several other important local entities, working with 600 children who live in University Village. As part of the wide variety of activities available, NIU School of Art and Design instructor Eric Fuertes and graduate assistant Allen Moore helped the campers create a comural. At the end of the project, the campers received a tour of the School of Art.

Camp Power participants creating the comural
Camp Power participants touring the School of Art
In September, the comural will be donated to the City of DeKalb at a City Council meeting. Thank you to Eric and Allen, and Congratulations to everyone involved!

Theatre Professor Directs Chicago Premiere

(photo by Ron Goldman)
Kay Martinovich, recently appointed as Assistant Professor in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, has directed the Chicago premiere of Down Range by Jeffrey Skinner, which opened last Thursday, August 7, in Chicago.

Genesis Theatrical Productions, in conjunction with National Pastime Theater, is presenting the Chicago premiere of Down Range, a raw and touching play that revolves around the high cost of multiple deployments for two military families. The year is 2009 and two combat soldiers return home from Iraq following an IED attack on their vehicle. Down Range depicts the soldiers’ inability to ever leave the war behind, and the ripple effects this has on their families, friends, and ultimately on an entire community.

Down Range runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at 7:30 pm from now to August 31 at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Avenue, 4th Floor, in Chicago, Illinois. NIU folks joining Kay in the presentation of this production are…

NIU Racks Up Several Art Awards

Congratulations are in order for several NIU School of Art and Design folks, both current faculty and alumni, for their selections as one of this year's 2014 Illinois Art Education Association Award Winners!

Illinois Art Educator of the Year: Alumna Deyana Matt
Higher Education Art Educator of the Year: Professor Dr. Kerry Freedman
Distinguished Service in the Profession of Art Education: Alumnus Joseph Hernandez
Presidents Award: Alumnus Chris Grodoski


Ensemble in Residence Releases First Commercial Recording

We're proud to announce that Cor Cantiamo, NIU School of Music ensemble-in-residence (, and Founding Artistic Director Eric A. Johnson, will be celebrating their first commercial CD with Centaur Records with an official release in the United States and Canada on Tuesday, August 12. The album will be available internationally on all of the major download and stream sites, as well as on the various classical specialty sites.

The recording, Canticum: The Choral Music of Jaakko Mantyjarvi, features sacred and secular repertoire including Alarum Bells which was commissioned by Dr. Johnson and the NIU Choral Program.

This album was crafted through the combined work of NIU faculty, alumni, and internationally acclaimed artists. It was  produced by award-winning composer and producer Donald Fraser, and recorded in partnership with the composer (Jaakko Mantyjarvi) participating  in the recording sessions that occurred on the NIU campus in the summer of 2013.

Cor Canti…

Art Faculty Members Curate Show in Chicago

NIU School of Art and Design faculty members Michael Rea and Geoffrey Smith curated a show in Chicago, entitled "Ugly Smile." The exhibit is an investigation of humor, and is at the Peanut Gallery through this coming Sunday.

Mike and Geoff were able to include works by current NIU art students as well as work by NIU art alumni. There is a nice review of the show in The Chicagoist.

Congratulations to Mike, Geoff, the students and alums!

Art Education Division Busy Internationally

Several Art Education faculty members and doctoral students in the NIU School of Art and Design have been busy internationally over the past few months. Here are some of the highlights:

Professor Richard Siegesmund
- Has been invited by the German Ministry of Education to be one of 60 educators invited to a 2-day workshop on future directions of the German national curriculum.  They'll be flying him over to Dusseldorf in September to participate in this development project.
- Presented a lecture at the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA) world Congress in Melbourne, Australia, July 10. "Developing Agreement on Criteria for the Assessment of Arts Based Research" (Panel with Kerry Freedman)
- Was  invited by the University of Granada in Spain, in January 2014,  to teach a one-week masters class for the Department of Art Education.

Professor Kerry Freedman
- Gave a keynote address, Images that Transform: Analyzing Visual Culture that Changes People's M…