Griffin Ell / Arts Director

The art and design program at Keene State College has evolved with time and there are some new changes in the spring 2020 semester that students could benefit from.

Dean of Arts, Education and Culture Dr. Kirsti A. Sandy, who has worked at Keene State for about 20 years, said, “We’ve always had a really strong art department, but we branched out to so many different departments.”

Starting in fall 2019, the Thorne Sagendorph Gallery merged with the Keene State art department and in spring 2020 the changes are coming to life. Public Programs and Educational Outreach Coordinator and Professor of Art Paul McMullan is excited because the gallery is restructured to be student-friendly. He said the gallery is a space the art department has never had before and is hopeful that it will help the recruitment of prospective students. 

The merging of the gallery and the department has also provided a few other opportunities. According to McMullan, due to cramped drawing space in Redfern during the fall semester the drawing classes will be moved to the Thorne Gallery. 

Retired art professor Peter Roos will be coming back to Keene State on Fridays starting January 31 to conduct open sessions for students and community members on figure drawing. 

The gallery will also be hosting talks from different art faculties and artists. Author and illustrator Carson Ellis, who is based in Portland, Oregon, was one of the speakers in the fall 2019 semester. 

 Sandy said, “We felt our students were going [to Thorne gallery] as guests, but students aren’t guests; it’s their gallery. We wanted a way for students to feel that they own the Thorne… This belongs to them as much as it does the college, as much as it does to the community. So we wanted to find a way to formally make that happen.”

As for the first exhibition for spring 2020, the gallery is holding a Keene State art faculty biennial exhibition and regional high school art exhibition from January 30 until March 29, 2020.

Another new thing that both McMullan and Sandy are excited for in spring 2020 is the senior show toward the end of the semester. McMullan said, “It’s going to be joining the Academic Excellence Conference, so we’re going to open up here on Friday night.” According to the Keene State College website, the Academic Excellence Conference event brings together student scholars and their families, faculty and staff mentors,  area legislators, university trustees and members of the Keene community in celebration of academic research and other forms of scholarship.

At Keene State, you can earn a BA in art (either graphic design or studio art), a BFA in art (graphic design, studio art or art and design), an art history minor or a studio art minor, according to the Keene State College website.

McMullan is confident about the programs that Keene State provides. “I think what’s great about the department here is we have a well-rounded group of faculty who can teach a lot of different things and let the students pick and choose where they want to go. I don’t think we force students into anything, but let them find their own path,” said McMullan.

 State provides. He said, “I think what’s great about the department here is we have a well-rounded group of faculty that can teach you a lot of different things and let the students pick and choose where they want to go, I don’t think we force students into anything but let them find their own path.”

Sandy is hopeful for the new changes in Spring 2020. She said, “Industry changes, what people look at, what people are interested in changes, we have to evolve and change with the world, we have a responsibility to our students. As faculty, and staff, we can’t just say we’re just gonna look at what we do and we like, we have to think about what are the new developments in the field, what are some new artists producing, how to invite a younger generation of people in art which often isn’t friendly to young people. So we have to make sure that we are providing access to students to the whole world that might be hard to access.” 

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