College of Fine Arts News Archive

April 2020

  • SFA School of Music announces scholarship recipients

    SFA School of Music announces scholarship recipients

    April 29, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    The School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University has announced the newest list of recipients of the many scholarships that are awarded annually to SFA music students.

    “At the end of every academic year, the SFA School of Music is fortunate to be able to present dozens of students with the many endowed scholarships that so many magnanimous donors have given over the years,” said Dr. Gary Wurtz, director of the School of Music. “This is typically done at our annual Extravaganza student celebration event. With this being an intensely abnormal year, due to the COVID-19 quarantine situation, we were unable to have that event, so we are pleased to instead use this statement to announce the following awardees.”

    Scholarships from the winds, brass and percussion area
    • The recipient of the Kelly W. Lancaster Memorial Music Scholarship is Kurt Swisher, a percussion student of Brad Meyer and music education major from Tyler. Swisher is also the recipient of the J.T. Cox Band Scholarship.
    • The recipient of the Bobby D. Goff Memorial Band Scholarship is Jared Cornett, a transfer student from Kilgore College, entering SFA in the fall of 2020.
    • The recipient of the Charles Lee Hill Band Scholarship is McKenzie Campo, a clarinet student of Chris Ayer and music education major from Nacogdoches.
    • The recipient of the Dirk Wheeler Memorial Music Education Scholarship is Levi Grant, a trombone student of Deb Scott and music education major from Longview.
    • The recipient of the Hubert A. “Butch” Almany Band Scholarship is Hannah Terral, a clarinet student of Chris Ayer and music education major from Clifton.
    • The recipient of the Mary Osborne Ray Memorial Drum Major Scholarship is Eamonn Donnelly, a euphonium student of Danny Chapa and music education major from Nashville, Tennessee.
    • The recipient of the Mel Montgomery Band Scholarship is Braydon Sowell, a saxophone student of Nathan Nabb and music education major from Carthage.
    • The recipient of the Paul Stroud Memorial Band Scholarship is Kristen Mercer, a trombone student of Deb Scott and music education major from Kingwood.
    • The recipient of the Waymon Bullock Music Education Scholarship is Elizabeth Esquivel Mondragon, a flute student of Christina Guenther and music education major from Tyler.
    • The recipient of the Jackie and Neil Grant Music Education Scholarship is Jasmin Limqueco, a flute student of Christina Guenther and music education major from Plano.
    • The recipient of the John D. Dickson Music Scholarship is Spencer Alfredson of Tomball, a horn performance student of Charles Gavin.

    Scholarships from the voice area
    • The recipient of the Ida Pritchett Memorial Music Scholarship is Maiya Williams, a voice student of Scott LaGraff and music education major from Hutto.
    • Two students were awarded the David W. Jones Voice Scholarship: Megan Stone, a voice student of Nita Hudson and music education major from Spring; and Grace Palmore, voice student of Debbie Berry and music education major from Royse City.
    • The recipient of the Doris H. and James A. Jones Music Scholarship is Hunter Dickens, a voice student of Scott LaGraff and music education major from Bullard.
    • The recipient of the James A. and Doris H. Jones Music Scholarship is Hannah Hays, a voice student of Scott LaGraff and music education major from Lubbock.
    • Three voice students were named as recipients of the O. Elbridge and Katherine Gammill Voice Scholarship: Sara Rosado of Katy, a music education student of Debbie Berry; Anthony Perez of Houston, a music education student of Nita Hudson; and Jay Teamer of Lake Dallas, a music education student of Debbie Dalton.
    • Three voice students have the honor of holding the Ron Anderson Voice Scholarship: Jason Padron of Houston, a music education student of Nita Hudson; Grace Palmore of Royse City, a music education student of Debbie Berry; and Matthew Mitchell of Huffman, a music education student of Debbie Berry.
    • The Nacogdoches Symphony Club’s annual Baumgartner Award will be split between two voice students: Taryn Surrat of Houston, a voice performance student of Nita Hudson; and Megan Bucher of Katy, a voice performance student of Debbie Berry.
    • The recipient of the Cum Concilio Club’s Peggy Wedgeworth Wright Award in the voice area is Kayla Luptak, a voice student of Debbie Berry and music education major from Bullard.

    Scholarships from the strings area
    • The recipient of the Isidor Saslav Strings Scholarship is Alina Nebzhidovskaia from St. Petersburg, Russia, a violin student of Jennifer Dalmas.
    • String students who are receiving the Paul Francis Buskirk Strings Scholarship include Caroline Pagano of Kingwood; Emily Duin of Kingwood; Nicole Beltran of Irving; Ernesto Mendoza of Abilene; Veronica Guerra of Harlingen; John Velez of Freeport; and Haley Dunn of Houston.
    • The recipient of the Barbara Brown Schoenewolf Art and Music Scholarship is Isabella Gaertner of Mount Pleasant, a cello performance student of Evgeni Raychev.
    • The recipient of the Cum Concilio Club’s Peggy Wedgeworth Wright Award in the string area is Nicole Beltran, a violin student of Jen Dalmas and music education major from Irving.

    Scholarships from the piano area
    • The recipient of the Jack and Cheryl Nelson Music Scholarship is Davidson Reyes from the Dominican Republic, a piano student of Andrew Parr. Reyes is also the recipient of the Rowena Hinson Music Scholarship.
    • The recipient of the Mamie Middlebrook Music Scholarship is Kaden Harman of Cushing, a piano student of Ping-Ting Lan. Harman is also the recipient of the Shirley R. Watterston Accompanying Scholarship.

    Scholarships from the jazz area
    • The recipient of the Gary Wurtz Jazz Scholarship is Felipe Hernandez of Lufkin, a graduate saxophone student of Nathan Nabb. Hernandez was also named as the Darrell Holt Outstanding member of the Swingin’ Axes for the year.
    • The recipient of the Kermit and Margaret Wilson Agee Music Scholarship is Sterling Davis, a trombone student of Deb Scott and music education major from Cambridge, Ohio.
    • The recipient of the Perry and Martha Brittain Scholarship is Levi Grant, a trombone student of Deb Scott and music education major from Longview.
    • The recipient of the Zack Brittain Scholarship is Sterling Davis, a trombone student of Deb Scott and music education major from Cambridge, Ohio.

    Scholarships from the composition and music theory area
    • The recipient of the G. Darrell Holt Music Scholarship is Scott Hansen from Haines, Alaska, a graduate composition student of Stephen Lias. Hansen is also the recipient of the Dan Beaty Memorial Music Scholarship.
    • The recipient of the Don McManus Music Scholarship is Jasmin Limqueco, a flute student of Christina Guenther and music education major from Plano.

    General music scholarships
    • The recipient of the Aaron and Barbara Smith Music Scholarship is Julia Walden, a flute student of Christina Guenther and music education major from Malakoff.
    • The recipient of the Colvert Family Music Scholarship is Sterling Davis, a trombone student of Deb Scott and music education major from Cambridge, Ohio.
    • The recipient of the H.H. “Hoot” and Bertha Gibson Scholarship is Fernando Martinez, a clarinet student of Chris Ayer and music education major from Brownsville.
    • The recipient of the Jack R. and Claudine W. McKinney Memorial Music Scholarship is Hannah Terral, a clarinet student of Chris Ayer and music education major from Clifton.
    • The recipient of the Virdian Watkins Vaughn Scholarship is Anthony Perez, a voice student of Nita Hudson and music education major from Houston.
    • The Pi Kappa Lambda Award for the sophomore with the highest GPA goes to Joshua (Reed) Sellers, a voice student of Ric Berry and music education major from Cypress.

    The James I. Perkins family has underwritten the Dr. Peggy W. Wright Music Scholarship to memorialize the devoted School of Music supporter, according to Wurtz. The two deserving recipients are Hannah Terral, a clarinet student of Chris Ayer and music education major from Clifton; and Maiya Williams, a voice student of Scott LaGraff and music education major from Hutto.

    Each fall, a new student is selected as the recipient of the Ed and Gwen Cole Music Scholarship, and they receive that award for four years. The current four Cole Scholars are Taryn Surrat of Houston, a voice performance student of Nita Hudson; Sara Rosado, a voice student of Debbie Berry and music education major from Katy; Anthony Perez, a voice student of Nita Hudson and music education major from Houston; and Aaron Milam, a percussion student of Brad Meyer and music education major from Longview.

    Each spring, the prestigious Presser Scholarship, endowed by the Presser Foundation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is awarded to a student who is entering their senior year. That person is known as the Presser Scholar. The 2020 Presser Scholar is Dalia Lee, a clarinet student of Chris Ayer and music education major from Frisco.

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  • SFA’s Texas National virtual exhibition postponed until May 5

    SFA’s Texas National virtual exhibition postponed until May 5

    April 29, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    Due to technical difficulties in the virtual judging process for this year’s Texas National Competition and Exhibition at Stephen F. Austin State University, the video of the exhibition and announcement of the winning entries will not be available for viewing until the afternoon of Tuesday, May 5, according to officials with The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House.

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting closure of Cole Art Center, a virtual exhibition had been planned for late April. But the walking-tour video will not be available for viewing online until May 5, according to Alisa Steed, event coordinator for Cole Art Center. The video will be posted to the School of Art website at art.sfasu.edu and on Facebook at SFA Art Galleries & Cole Art Center and on Instagram.

    For more information about the exhibition, call (936) 468-1131. The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House is SFA’s historic art gallery, located in downtown Nacogdoches.

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    article ID 1885

  • SFA art, music, theatre professors find innovative ways teach fine arts online

    SFA art, music, theatre professors find innovative ways teach fine arts online

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    SFA associate art professor Neal Cox teaches at-home screen exposure development techniques in a YouTube video he recorded for his students who are continuing their education online.

    April 27, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    Each day for the past few weeks, Dr. Christina Guenther, professor of flute at Stephen F. Austin State University, accompanied by her husband, Dr. Ron Petti, director of collaborative piano at SFA, have recorded a video of themselves performing works that Guenther’s students are working on. The videos are posted to her flute studio’s Facebook page for students’ enjoyment and to help them learn the music.

    “I hope it keeps everyone feeling like we’re still getting to be together … at least a little,” she said.

    This is just one of many innovative ideas that fine arts professors at SFA have come up with to teach their students in the virtual world that COVID-19 has created.

    While some college courses translate fairly easily to online content, teaching the fine arts – art, music and theatre – which have been traditionally face-to-face, hands-on instruction, takes extra creativity to make remote learning and interaction work.

    Normally in the SFA flute studio, students periodically perform impromptu duets to work on sight reading, intonation, ensemble performance and adjusting. Because that was no longer possible after spring break this year, Guenther recorded duo videos – a Mozart duo, a Brazilian choro, a tango by Piazzolla – and provided corresponding sheet music for the students.

    “They were to pick at least one duo to play along with – I always play the bottom line – and then comment about their experience,” Guenther said. “While it is not the same as in person, it gave them a chance to have some quasi-duo interaction with me, and, because it was pre-recorded, they couldn’t stop to fix things like we can in person; they had to keep going. Some of their comments were about not being able to stop and realizing they need to work to be able to play along without a metronome and just feel the beat. Because they have access to these videos, they can ‘duo’ with me anytime they want.”

    A particular challenge for art, music or theatre education majors has been trying to fulfill student teaching requirements when public and private schools are closed. According to Claire Murphy, assistant professor of music education, SFA music education majors who are clinical (student) teaching this semester have continued to work to grow and develop, despite the closing of schools.

    “Our clinical teachers are working closely with their cooperating teachers to provide online instruction and learning opportunities for K-12 students in Texas,” Murphy said. “They have participated in Zoom sessions led by faculty and music educators across the state, in order to discuss teaching strategies, resources, concepts, etc. that would be discussed in a face-to-face teaching and learning environment. Our students are rolling up their sleeves to continue to grow and learn and work to help their cooperating teachers and students in every way possible. Our Lumberjacks are adaptable and resilient.”

    With teachers across the nation no longer in classrooms, it has provided Dr. David Campo, director of bands at SFA, an opportunity “bring in” guest speakers online to share their knowledge with his music students.

    “High school and middle school band directors from across the state have spoken to my band administration class,” Campo said.“ Last week, we had a visit with composer Quincy Hilliard. The biggest challenge for us is that there is no way to have ensemble rehearsals, and that is a critical component of the music education degree, not to mention that ensembles develop an important camaraderie that enhances the experience for all of us.”

    Not all SFA music majors had the ability to shelter in place with quality instruments, according to Dr. Andrew Parr, professor of piano. “Our situations have run the gamut from beautiful pianos to none at all,” he said. “I found that any former complaints about the quality of SFA’s practice room facilities have disappeared completely! I also discovered that online lessons could still feel personal and productive, and that we were always glad to see each other again each week.”

    Graduate and undergraduate students in the choral/voice area are taking advantage of the sudden and dramatic shift to music making by scheduling Zoom sessions with world-famous conductors, composers, authors and pedagogues, said Dr. Michael Murphy, director of choral activities at SFA. During normal times, the schedules and fees of getting notable music heavyweights for speaking engagements would be prohibitive, he said.

    “This disruptive event has reminded me how much we need and should value community in the act of music making,” he said. “Music is made more powerful when shared, whether it is with each other or for an audience. Our students miss authentic connection and community with their professors and with each other. To help diminish this sense of loss of community, our alumni in the voice area have been writing encouraging letters to our current voice students.”

    While the SFA theatre faculty is doing “an incredible job” adapting, School of Theatre Director Cleo House Jr. said these are not ideal circumstances for teaching theatre. “Our art form is rooted in human-to-human, real-world interaction, so there is a struggle,” he said. “But what this situation has done is forced a different kind of creativity and innovation that we probably would never have approached without the pandemic. While we miss the face-to-face time with our students dearly, I’m certain there will be takeaways from this time that we will all use moving forward.”

    The School of Theatre has not only adjusted the way classes are delivered, but also how it conducts auditions and interviews with new, incoming students. House said. A new approach was taken for the spring Theatre Day, which traditionally brings high school students from across East Texas to the SFA campus to talk with theatre professors, tour facilities and attend plays. “Our most recent Theatre Day on April 20 was a series of Zoom meetings with the different areas as well as creating YouTube videos that we used to give tours of the facilities,” House said.

    As a professor of movement and acting in the School of Theatre, Dr. Slade Billew said it is a struggle to teach certain performance skills that “are best learned through direct interaction, and often with physical contact, in a context where people must maintain social distancing.

    “I know many of the students have struggled to learn fight choreography and other movement practices via video and without a practice partner,” Billew said. “Theatre is intrinsically about liveness and humans together in a space. It is quite challenging to practice and teach this art remotely.”

    One of hardest transitions from theatre classroom to online has been for Billew’s students who are learning clown performance. “Clowning is a skill that is all about relationship to the live audience,” he said. “We decided to try clowning by Zoom, and the students have been incredibly innovative with using the camera as a scene partner, and finding ways to build a direct connection to an on camera audience in a way that will continue to benefit them in this increasingly mediatized culture.”

    Teaching hands-on studio art classes online inspired associate art professor Neal Cox, who teaches printmaking and alternative processes photography, to send hand-built supply kits to his students. The students emailed Cox files of images they wanted to print, and he printed them on transparent film.

    “Neal spent over two weeks hand building supplies and preparing and shipping packages to students so that they could keep working,” School of Art Director Christopher Talbot said. “He prepared videos of his demonstrations from his own home to show students how to use things they might have around their house to complete the projects instead of using the facilities here at SFA.”

    “I show my students how to expose their screens to sunlight and develop in their sinks,” Cox posted on one of the YouTube video examples he created for screen exposure development. “It's obviously better to have a nice vacuum frame exposure unit and an industrial developing sink, but when COVID-19 sends all of your students home, and you still have to teach them, you send them the basics and show them how to work from home.”

    To view an example of one of Cox’s videos, visit https://youtu.be/xMsUbfUz8Ps. School of Art faculty and students have also posted teaching videos they created of various art techniques at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtbqUvPzKL16lvAFzR788Zw/featured.

    While the pandemic has created teaching challenges worldwide, SFA professors say the forced distance learning has reinforced how committed and adaptable students can be.

    “I said to students at the beginning of this that we would need to ‘improvise, adapt, and overcome,’” Billew said, “and I have been profoundly affected by how hard they have worked to do just that.”

    “Not that we needed a global pandemic to reinforce this idea, but we have some very strong, adaptable and resilient students in our School of Music,” said Jacob Walburn, professor of trumpet. “Many of my own students are working part time, and in several cases, full-time jobs, to try and bring in extra income for their families. Many of my students are at home with both parents and several siblings, trying to manage computer/WiFi time. They are being forced to adapt to a situation none of us has ever been in, yet despite these difficulties, they are showing up, doing their work, and getting the job done. I hope our colleagues in other disciplines across campus are as lucky as we are to be able to teach such dedicated students.”

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  • Lawrence juror for Texas National; online exhibition available soon

    Lawrence juror for Texas National; online exhibition available soon

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    Annette Lawrence, photo credit: Megan DeSoto

    April 24, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    Although The Cole Art Center is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, art lovers will still be able to view all of the artwork and the winning entries in the 26th Texas National Competition and Exhibition, Stephen F. Austin State University’s acclaimed art competition and exhibition, which can be seen virtually starting April 30 and running through June 13.

    This year’s exhibition will be in video format that will be posted on the SFA School of Art Facebook page and website. The show will include approximately 60 pieces of art, including photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media, according to John Handley, director of SFA galleries. An online catalogue will also be provided.

    The School of Art’s annual juried competition and exhibition attracts entrants from across the United States, providing artists an opportunity to have their work juried by highly acclaimed curators and critics, such as this year’s juror, Annette Lawrence, professor of studio art in the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas. She will critique and judge the entries with the assistance of a walk-through video.

    “We have created a walk-through video for our juror, Annette Lawrence, with the assistance of video expert Herbert Midgley,” said Alisa Steed, event coordinator for Cole Art Center. Midgley is music technology instructor in the School of Music. “As soon as the juror lets us know her decisions, we will post a ‘virtual reception’ video announcing the winners and including a brief walking tour of the exhibition. We hope to have this up on our website and Facebook page by early next week. While the exhibition is on display, we will feature the artists on our Facebook and Instagram pages.”

    Lawrence’s work has been widely exhibited and is held in museums and private collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Dallas Museum of Art; The Rachofsky Collection; ArtPace Center for Contemporary Art; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin; and the Art Collection of the Dallas Cowboys. She received a 2018 MacDowell Fellowship; the 2015 Moss/Chumley Award from the Meadows Museum; and the 2009 Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Award from the Dallas Museum of Art. Her work was included in the 1997 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York. She is an alumnus of the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Skowhegan School.

    Texas National is sponsored in part by the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts, The Flower Shop, William Arscott and corporate sponsor R&K Distributors, Inc.

    For more information about the exhibition, call (936) 468-1131. The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House is SFA’s historic art gallery, located in downtown Nacogdoches. The SFA School of Art can be accessed at http://www.art.sfasu.edu or on Facebook at SFA Art Galleries & Cole Art Center.

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    article ID 1883

  • The show must go on! SFA play festival turns to YouTube format

    The show must go on! SFA play festival turns to YouTube format

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    Caroline Aaron
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    Matt Lyle
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    Jack Heifner
    April 14, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    With artists and performance groups worldwide looking at all forms of technology to make sure the show goes on, the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre will present its biennial Festival of New American Plays virtually with a slightly altered schedule.

    East Texans and audiences across the country can still be among the firsts to hear the newest works by three acclaimed playwrights through staged readings on the School of Theatre’s YouTube channel beginning April 22.

    The biennial event showcases the work of some of the best playwrights in the nation in a festival during which each selected play is presented in staged readings by SFA theatre students, according to Jack Heifner, SFA School of Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, director of the festival and one of the featured authors.

    The 2020 festival highlights new works by Heifner; Dallas-based writer, actor, director and SFA theatre alum Matt Lyle; and Caroline Aaron, television, stage and film actress most recently known for her role as Shirley Maisel in the TV series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

    The challenge this year, Heifner said, has been “to wrap our heads around the technology.” CC Conn, associate professor of theatre, has been busy learning the intricacies of Zoom and YouTube platforms and teaching herself how to livestream, with the help of Theunis Oliphant, technology coordinator in SFA’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

    “In order to provide better stability to our performance, I have found myself doing many things to obtain and provide ethernet cables and adapters to students, as relying on Wi-Fi causes a lot of glitches in the video,” Conn said. “And we certainly do not want students to undertake expenses or risk going into the public to remedy this situation. So I have been ordering cables and adapters as needed and getting them mailed to the students as quickly as possible. But it has all been very challenging and exciting.”

    And students are embracing the challenge, Heifner said.

    “We have wonderful student actors scattered all over Texas, and we come together for rehearsals on Zoom,” he said. “It's been like having them back in the Fine Arts Building again. The challenges are enormous, especially with sound and Wi-Fi lags, but we are experimenting all the time.

    “The Festival of New American Plays has been a highlight of our season every other year since 1998,” Heifner added. “The students are thrilled we are continuing the tradition. I have not heard one person complain. It's all about ‘let's do it.’”

    Student leaders are Production Stage Manager Ash Whiting, Deer Park junior, and Assistant Director Gareth Phipps, Dallas senior, plus three stage managers. “The casts have been so eager, so happy to do this, so excited that they can act again this semester for an audience and also to do these wonderful new plays by Caroline Aaron and Matt Lyle,” Heifner said.

    The festival will feature “The Curse of Plenty,” which is Heifner’s play that takes place at a dinner party where there’s only imaginary food and drink and two triangles of lovers competing for attention. Heifner describes it as “a chilling yet, at the same time, very funny view of our possible future – when greed, conspicuous consumption and human willfulness have, at last, plundered the planet and reduced the circumstances of human life to a subsistence level.”

    Lyle’s “The Texas Devil” is an outrageous comedy about a small-town attorney, her football coach husband and her teenage son all trying to cope with instant celebrity, Sean Hannity, Fox News and a visiting Satanist.

    Aaron’s “Such a Pretty Face” is a play about many types of women as they confront issues about their appearance, the ideas of “beauty” as shown in the media, and the constant bombardment of programs designed to make people lose weight, the playwright explains.

    “The play is funny and touching in its examination of how we see ourselves, how we think others see us and how we want to be seen,” Heifner said.

    Livestreams are at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeXFQChOdCd8zf094sQ0jXg with “Curse of Plenty at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22; “The Texas Devil” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23; and “Such a Pretty Face” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 24. The readings will be lightly edited then published on theatre’s YouTube channel April 27 through May 3. Matt Reynolds, assistant professor of lighting, sound and video design at the University of Alabama, is assisting Conn in creating the visual details of the edited videos. There will also be a live-streamed question-and-answer session with the playwrights at 2 p.m. Friday, April 24. The plays are recommended for mature audiences.

    Heifner is the author of more than 30 plays and musicals produced in New York, Los Angeles and theatres around the world. He is best known for the play version of “Vanities,” which ran for five years in New York and became one of the longest-running plays in Off-Broadway history. His musicals include “Leader of the Pack” on Broadway and “Vanities - A New Musical” in New York and London. He has also worked in television and film.

    Heifner has been playwright-in-residence at SFA since 1997. Each spring, he teaches playwriting and screenwriting and has directed many SFA shows. He founded The Festival of New American Plays in 1998, and over the years, the school has presented the new works of Beth Henley, James McLure, Carol Hall, David Ives, Tina Howe, Constance Congdon, John Cariani, Getchen Cryer, William M. Hoffman and many others. Heifner is a member of The Dramatists Guild, The Writers’ Guild of America and Actors Equity Association, and he has been inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters and The Texas Playwriting Hall of Fame.

    Lyle’s plays have been produced across the U.S. His plays, “The Boxer,” “Hello Human Female,” “Barbecue Apocalypse” and “Big Scary Animals” all garnered DFW Theater Critics Forum Awards for "Outstanding New Play." “Barbecue Apocalypse” was nominated for an American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award. Lyle has been commissioned by Theatre Three, Dallas Theater Center and Audacity Theatre Lab. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild and the Playwright’s Center and was honored as the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus of the SFA School of Theatre. His work is published by Broadway Play Publishing.

    Aaron made her debut in motion pictures with a small part in Robert Altman’s “Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” in 1982. Since, she has built her acting career as a character actress and has worked with some of cinema’s most significant directors, including Woody Allen and the late Mike Nichols. She has appeared in numerous TV series, among them “Madam Secretary,” “Grey’s Anatomy,“ Desperate Housewives,” “Modern Family” and “2 Broke Girls.” She had a recurring role in “The Young and the Restless” and appeared in movies “21 Jump Street” and “22 Jump Street,” “Our Family Wedding,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Working Girl” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” among others. She stars on the hit series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

    “Caroline and Matt have been with us all the way,” Heifner said. “Whatever we've proposed, they are all for it. I only wish we could all be together in person. However, this is the next best thing, and we are giving it our best. I truly hope our friends who've supported the festival all these years will join us. The tradition continues, and the plays are wonderful, and so are the students.”

    The plays are recommended for mature audiences. Visit the School of Theatre at theatre.sfasu.edu.

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  • SFA art education students create videos for homeschooled students

    SFA art education students create videos for homeschooled students

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    An SFA art student illustrates one-point perspective drawing in a YouTube video series School of Art students and faculty have created to provide online art instruction for students who are now learning from home instead of in the classroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    April 13, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    Art education students and faculty at Stephen F. Austin State University have created a series of YouTube videos designed to provide art instruction for students who are at home instead of in the classroom as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

    The tutorials, which range from lessons in drawing techniques and photography skills to the Raku firing process, were created to meet the needs of teachers and parents who are homeschooling art classes. The videos are accompanied by lesson plans that can be easily used by teachers/parents and students, according Dr. Maggie Leysath, professor of art education in the SFA School of Art.

    “We decided to create this YouTube channel to help K-12 teachers who are now required to create video content for their classrooms,” Leysath said. “These videos can be used for sketchbook assignments or for unit artwork assignments. Really, these videos are great for parents to use as well, since the projects are relevant and so much fun.”

    Creating the channel also helped to address the challenges art education students were facing due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Leysath said.

    “Since the curriculum for Spring 2020 included numerous opportunities for art education students to teach children in our local schools and at the Boys & Girls Club, which was no longer possible, it became clear that providing online instruction was now a necessary experience and skill for future art educators,” Leysath explained. “This channel and the content the art education students are creating is excellent experience for them in our ‘new normal’ world.”

    The first two videos, portrait drawing basics and Raku firing, were created by Leysath as a way to get the channel up and running. The channel was viewed 708 minutes in the two weeks of March, when these videos were first available. And there’s more to come.

    “The topics will be as varied as the art education students are themselves,” Leysath said. “Currently, there is a video for one-point perspective, one for creating dramatic photographs using your phone, and a really fun emoji lesson.” Videos will be added as students create them.

    “We’ve discovered that quarantined and socially isolated people of all ages are thrilled with the opportunity to learn and grow,” Leysath said, adding she has received several self-portraits from her social media connections. “These videos offer a variety of ways to learn and try out art again.”

    Art education students will continue to provide instructional videos during the month of June as an alternative to the two SFA art academy camps that were canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.

    The art lessons are provided as a service and are not to be used for profit, according to Leysath.

    The videos are at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtbqUvPzKL16lvAFzR788Zw/featured.

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  • Volunteer seamstresses expand effort to include protective gowns for health care workers

    Volunteer seamstresses expand effort to include protective gowns for health care workers

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    SFA School of Theatre costume shop supervisor Barbara Blackwell works on assembling protective gear for Memorial Hospital medical workers as they continue the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    April 9, 2020—Robbie Goodrich

    It began a couple of weeks ago with an offer by Stephen F. Austin State University theatre faculty to sew surgical mask coverings for medical professionals on the front lines of battling the spread of COVID-19 in Nacogdoches County.

    With the Texas Department of State Health Services reporting 25 positive COVID-19 cases and two deaths in this county alone as of April 8, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital has requested that a grassroots community seamstresses effort coordinated by SFA theatre professor Angela Bacarisse expand its volunteer work to include the construction of protective gowns for the hospital’s health care providers.

    Memorial Hospital Community Relations Director Kim Barton told Bacarisse this week that additional personal protective equipment orders have been placed, but hospital officials were uncertain when those orders could be filled amid a national public health crisis and medical supply shortage.

    As a result, the band of local seamstresses have continued to assemble surgical mask coverings out of cotton fabric, while Bacarisse and SFA costume shop supervisor Barbara Blackwell are now focusing on constructing the more complex and labor intensive gowns.

    “Barbara and I looked at each other and said, ‘OK, we have the facilities here at SFA, and we can make this happen,’” Bacarisse said. “But this isn’t just us. This is a group of SFA people – faculty, staff, spouses and a dean – who care about our community.”

    Nacogdoches Memorial is used to collaborating with SFA on multiple levels, Barton said. The hospital utilizes student interns from a variety of departments, sponsors an assortment of cultural and sporting events and supports safety-related organizations like the Driving Jacks because they share Memorial’s mission of keeping Nacogdoches safe.

    “We have always appreciated the value of the university as a partner and a resource, but the COVID-19 pandemic has really driven home the importance and the depth of that relationship,” she said.

    Barton described the work that the SFA costume shop and others are doing as “incredibly personal to our staff,” adding the cloth masks are keeping the Memorial team safer in broad practical terms as they come and go throughout the hospital, “because the coronavirus could be anywhere.”

    “We’re so grateful for that protection, but the isolation gowns are a completely different, extremely personal story,” she said. “They’ll be worn by staff members who know, without a doubt, that they’re dealing with a COVID patient. That barrier is an important layer of the equipment that will help keep them safe so they can continue to fight the fight, without worrying so much about their own health.

    “We’re still early in the pandemic progression here in East Texas, and we’re incredibly blessed to have the advantage of the learning curve,” Barton added. “We’ve seen the news stories about healthcare workers wearing trash bags over their clothes as protection. That’s so incredibly dangerous if you don’t remove them correctly, because you can aerosolize the virus when you take off the trash bags. It’s a comfort beyond words to know that our community cares enough to work as hard as they are to make sure that won’t happen to our team.”

    After seeing news articles a few weeks ago about the local effort, other seamstress volunteers have asked Bacarisse for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-compliant pattern for the masks. In addition to providing the homemade masks for hospital workers, the volunteers have provided cloth masks for local pharmacies, hospice organizations and law enforcement agencies that have asked for them.

    “I have emailed instructions to hundreds of people who wanted to make their own,” she said, adding that anyone interested in volunteering to help with the protective gear construction effort may contact her at abacarisse@sfasu.edu.

    Barton said the life-saving efforts underway communitywide right now are “beyond measure.”

    “There’s just no way to quantify the value of the cooperation,” she said. “It’s not just that we’re working together on the community call center and the COVID-19 screening tent, which is vital to the health of our region. It’s that so many departments are reaching out to help us, from all of the SFA nursing professors and students to the SFA police department to the theatre, art and physics departments. The SFA community is using their time, their talents and sharing their resources to support the medical community, and whenever they meet a need, they ask what they can do next. It’s incredible and so very humbling.”

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