College of Fine Arts News Archive

January 2019

  • Step Afrika! to perform at SFA

    Step Afrika! to perform at SFA

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    Presented by the College of Fine Arts and sponsored by Nacogdoches Medical Center, Step Afrika! will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus. Photo credit: Sekou Luke

    January 10, 2019—Robbie Goodrich

    Internationally acclaimed Step Afrika! will bring its high-energy dance form to Nacogdoches with a University Series performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus.

    The performance, sponsored by Nacogdoches Medical Center Health Network, is presented by the SFA College of Fine Arts in partnership with the Nacogdoches Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and in cooperation with SFA's Office of Multicultural Affairs and Greek Life Office.

    Step Afrika! is one of the top ten black dance companies in the United States.

    "The awe-inspiring commitment, talent, skill and teamwork in Step Afrika! performances make them the most exhilarating dances that I have ever seen," said Scott Shattuck, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and director of the University Series. "Drawing on a rich and multifaceted cultural background, this company propels audiences out of their seats with a feeling that combines the best of a hair-raising sporting event, a jaw-dropping historical revelation, an electrifying concert and an incredibly fun party."

    Step Afrika! connects the stepping tradition to thrilling Zulu and South African dance forms and blends exhilarating styles such as tap and hip hop into its internationally acclaimed performances. The Washington Post says Step Afrika! "has elevated stepping to high art."

    "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is pleased to partner with the College of Fine Arts to promote this exciting performance of Step Afrika!," said Lenora Foy, president of the Nacogdoches Alumnae Chapter.

    In the early 1900s, African American college students in sororities and fraternities developed stepping as a way for members of these organizations to show pride and unity. C. Brian Williams, the founder and executive director of Step Afrika!, attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he learned how to step. Later, he visited South Africa and saw a young boy dancing a style that looked very similar to stepping. Recognizing the connection, Williams wanted to find a way for Africans and Americans to share their dances, music and culture. In 1994, he founded Step Afrika! as the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping.

    Committed to arts education since its inception, Step Afrika! presents the art, values and culture of stepping to students of all grades and backgrounds. While in Nacogdoches, company members will conduct master classes for SFA students and for teenagers in the community.

    "I learned that stepping has deep roots in higher education," Shattuck said, "and SFA's Greek organizations have their own strong tradition of stepping." Shattuck said that Step Afrika! is also committed to student success. "This professional dance troupe does so much more than create and entertain. Their mission to inspire diverse young people to attend and complete college is equally meaningful."

    Prior to the performance, Saville Harris, assistant director of student engagement (Greek life) for SFA's Student Affairs Programs, will present an informative talk at 7 p.m. in Griffith Gallery. The gallery is located across the hall from Turner Auditorium, which is inside the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive. The audience is invited back to the gallery for a post-performance reception to meet the performers and to honor the corporate sponsor.

    Single event ticket prices for the University Series are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for non-SFA students/youth. Tickets for SFA students are $3.

    For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, stop by the Fine Arts Box Office in Room 211 of the Griffith Fine Arts Building, or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.

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  • SFA to present 'Caddo Contemporary: Present and Relevant' art exhibition

    SFA to present 'Caddo Contemporary: Present and Relevant' art exhibition

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    Caddo Nation artisan Raven Halfmoon's piece “Do You Speak Indian?” is among the artwork featured in “Caddo Contemporary: Present and Relevant” showing Jan. 24 through March 24 in The Cole Art Center.

    January 10, 2019—Robbie Goodrich

    The exhibition "Caddo Contemporary: Present and Relevant" will show Jan. 24 through March 24 in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

    Featuring ceramics, paintings, beadwork, stonework and drawings, the exhibition is a collaborative presentation of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art and Art Galleries and the Caddo Mound Historic Site in Alto, according to John Handley, director of art galleries.

    The exhibition highlights the work of seven Caddo Nation artisans, including Wayne Earles, Chad Earles, Chase Earles, Raven Halfmoon, Yonavea Hawkins, Jeri Redcorn and Thompson Williams. An opening reception with the artists in attendance is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24.

    Handley said he considers this exhibition to be an important one for two reasons.

    "It is the first exhibition that highlights the work of living Caddo artists," he said. "And, the exhibition is a first for Caddo art displayed in Nacogdoches, the home of the Caddo Nation for thousands of years before they were forced off their land in the early 1800s and relocated to Oklahoma."

    The exhibition will also include programming at both The Cole Art Center and the Caddo Mounds Historic Site, including a film, demonstrations and performances of dance, music, storytelling and poetry reading. A full-color exhibition catalogue has been prepared.

    "Up until now, scholarship on the Caddo Nation has focused on its remarkable, albeit painful, past," Handley said. "Caddo history, art, language and dance have been explored in books and journal articles. Although this work can be applauded, there has been little to no forward-looking work published. This exhibition is a step towards remedying such oversight by seeing first-hand the present day and relevant work in ceramics, paintings, beadwork, stonework and drawings."

    Several of the exhibition's artists have gained national attention, Handley added, most notably Jeri Redcorn, who has spent decades working with scholars to rediscover traditional Caddo ceramic methods. Her work has been displayed at the White House during the Obama administration and is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. Chase Earles was mentored by Redcorn so as to pass on to future generations this unique type of pottery making, Handley said.

    Special programming will accompany the exhibition, including storytelling by Kricket Rhoades-Connywerdy, an enrolled member of the Caddo and Kiowa tribes of Oklahoma who has been telling Kiowa and Caddo stories in Oklahoma, across the United States and internationally for more than two decades. A storytelling session is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at Cole Art Center.

    Dancing in her traditional Caddo dress and Kiowa buckskin, Rhoades-Connywerdy toured extensively with the legendary Charles Chibitty, the last Comanche code talker, and was Gulhei descendent princess (family princess) for 1999-2000. She has won awards for her lead movie roles, which included "The Legend of Billy Fail," "The Alamo," "Chasing the Wind," "Last of the Mohicans" and "UHF." She has an associate's degree from Tulsa Community College and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in Native American studies. She is the former executive director of the Historic Jacobson House Native Art Center and currently works with the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma's Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program.

    Additionally, the PBS film "Koo-Hoot Kiwat: The Caddo Grass House" will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday, March 1, at Cole Art Center as part of the School of Art and Friends of the Visual Arts' Friday Film Series.

    The exhibition is sponsored in part by William Arscott, The Flower Shop, Nacogdoches Junior Forum, Humanities Texas and Friends of the Visual Arts. Admission is free.

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  • Registration underway for spring Music Prep lessons, classes

    Registration underway for spring Music Prep lessons, classes

    January 3, 2019—Robbie Goodrich

    Registration is underway for private lessons and group classes offered for the 2019 spring semester by the Music Preparatory Division of the School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University.

    In addition to the usual 16-week private lessons for young students in piano, harp, violin and Suzuki violin, viola, voice, bass, clarinet, classical guitar, saxophone, composition, flute, trumpet, jazz piano, cello and music theory, Music Prep again offers adult piano classes in the coming spring, according to Pat Barnett, director of the Music Preparatory Division.

    Music Prep offers 12 weeks of musical study with SFA music major students. Lessons in violin, cello, clarinet, classical guitar, piano and jazz piano, trumpet, voice, percussion and other instruments upon request are offered. The student instructors are referred by their major professors and have a high level of mastery of their instrument, Barnett explained.

    Group classes offered are Music Theory Adventures, taught by Laura Treadaway; Adult Beginner Piano Class taught by Matthew Malaga; Adult Intermediate Piano Class, taught by Dr. Ping-Ting Lan; Pineywoods Youth Orchestra, directed by Dr. Evgeni Raychev; and The Raguet Strings, directed by Brenda Josephsen. The Raguet Strings is recruiting interested members to join the adult ensemble.

    Registration forms for the 2019 spring semester are available on the Music Prep website at and are being accepted now. The forms may be downloaded and turned in to the Music Prep office. Sixteen-week private lessons begin the week of Jan. 14, and 12-week private lessons begin the week of Feb. 4. Contact the Music Prep office at (936) 468-1291 for more information.

    Shirley Watterston and Dr. Robert Blocker, a former chairman of the SFA Department of Music, founded the SFA Music Preparatory Division in 1980.

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