Print Media & Photography Students Work Alongside Artist Willie Cole
Breaking down barriers to students engaging with visual art remains a key mission of the School of Art at Kent State University. This Fall, the School of Art welcomed the first Curlee Raven Holton & Raven Fine Art Editions Distinguished Art Fellowship artist to campus– Willie Cole.
Willie Cole is an internationally recognized artist who has exhibited nationally, with a diverse studio practice including sculpture, printmaking, drawing and painting.
Cole’s artist fellowship at KSU included an exhibition in the CVA gallery, an artist lecture, and gallery reception. Another important aspect of the fellowship was time spent in the classroom working with graduate and undergraduate print media and photography students.
“It didn’t feel like he had any walls up as a professional artist. He was very genuine with who he is– I really appreciated that” said M.F.A. in print media and photography student Danicko Rivera.
The culmination of Cole’s fellowship at KSU is a collaborative print series created alongside the graduate level print media and photography students. This limited-edition print series will be auctioned off to the public to raise money for School of Art scholarships, programming and future endowments.
When asked about working alongside Willie Cole, Michelle Eisen, M.F.A. in print media & photography student said:
“The experience was really interesting. We ultimately let the process and proofing inform the decision. We were able to give him a lot of information about the print while he was here, whilst gaining a lot of experience throughout the process.”
Taryn McMahon, professor of printmaking, was excited to lead the collaboration.
“It was a good challenge for the students– we learned a lot.” said McMahon.
In 2023, the Curlee Raven Holton & Raven Fine Art Editions Distinguished Art Fellowship endowment was established, welcoming artists of all disciplines to campus to interact with KSU students, staff and the broader community. By focusing on underrepresented artists, establishing donors Curlee and his wife Glee hope to "close the gap" on students' understanding of artistic communities outside of their own.
Jillian Sokso, Director of the School of Art, maintains that providing the KSU community with access to artists remains a prominent mission for the School of Art.
“We are bringing makers who are talking about the arc of the human experience. We want to make sure that this fellowship is a high touch point for the community– not just KSU students– but our faculty, staff and broader community. These artist talks and gallery openings are free and open to the public, and anyone from the region can come and participate,” said Sokso.