Family and former students of KSC art department founder Robert S. Neuman gathered at the Putnam Theater to watch a documentary about his life and legacy on Oct. 1. The documentary, titled “Pieces of the World: The Art and Life of Robert S. Neuman,” was composed of interviews from family, former students, scholars and friends.
The documentary featured numerous artworks from Neuman, such as the “Pieces of the World” exhibit and “Ship to Paradise.” The documentary was narrated by Brian Wallace, former Director of the Thorne Art Gallery. Neuman was an abstract painter and a professor at KSC from 1972 to1990 with prior experience teaching at other colleges such as Brown and Harvard.
Christina Godfrey, Neuman’s youngest daughter, said he was hired to assist in the formation of KSC’s art department in 1972. “There were art courses but… using his previous experiences at other universities and colleges, he helped form the art major and department,” she said.
Godfrey said that the documentary was made to not only continue Neuman’s legacy, but to also inform others on his career as an artist and educator.
“It [was made] to inform people who might not know my dad’s work and get to know it more,” Godfrey said. “We have vintage camcorder material, old photos from the 50s and 60s, and we have recent interviews.”
During his time at KSC, Neuman was seen as a mentor to many of his students, Godfrey said.
“Andy St. Martin, who is an alum…. In the film he talks about my dad and the role of a teacher and mentor,” Godfrey said. “Andy said that he had a nice sort of professor, mentor, fatherly way about him that he would check in with students while they were working.”
KSC Director of Development Marilyn Shriver described the process behind bringing the documentary to the Putnam Theater as part of Homecoming Weekend. “The film was produced over a number of years, with help from alumni Anna O’Brien and Brian Wallace,” Shriver said. “Neuman’s family created an exhibit of [his] works back in 2017 [for the Thorne] and that’s where the idea of the film came from.”
Shriver said she was proud of all the hard work Neuman’s family and members of the KSC community have put intothe documentary.
“I’m very proud of what Christina and her family and the college have accomplished with this important piece of art history,” Shriver said.
Neuman’s artistic legacy influenced his own children to be involved within the art community. “I’m an art consultant so I help people source artwork for their homes or their offices,” Godfrey said. “[His children] all grew up and found our own different niches within the art world… we all grew up in an artistic family.”
Neuman was born in 1926 and raised in the small mining town of Kellogg, ID. After moving to California, Neuman found his passion in abstract art.
“The minute he moved to California, he saw abstract art for the first time and it blew his mind,” Godfrey said. “Art took him around the world and he won fellowships to go to Europe [and] his art was exhibited throughout Europe and even in Japan once.”
Godfrey added, “With his passion and his drive, he was really able to see the world and do something maybe he didn’t expect he’d be able to do when he was younger…
Work hard, do your best, and be confident that it can take you somewhere.”
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