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The fine artists of Eastern: a major that not many know about

Yes, Eastern has a fine arts department.

The department is growing, although struggles still exist.

Ron Matthews is the chair of fine arts and music. He has worked in the music department since 1992, but he has also taken on the fine arts department in the past few years.

“I appreciate the strength of the art majors,” Matthews said. “To get through the hurdles they do speaks highly of their character.”

The department has 15 – 20 artists.

Transportation is a huge obstacle for majors. Eastern only offers two art classes on campus: black and white photography and history and appreciation of art, according to various sources. For black and white photography, a professor’s darkroom is currently used, according to Matthews.

All other fine arts programs are offered five minutes away at Rosemont College.

For first-year Jacqueline Yurik, the commute is no problem.

“I have a car on campus,” shesaid. “The commute is a fend-for- yourself situation.”

Yurik is concentrating on art education.

Junior Mike Skinner does not have such luck.

“If I don’t drive, then I pay for the train. If I drive, then I carpool,” Skinner said. “I try to schedule myself around other students’ schedules.”

Skinner is concentrating on studio art.

Lack of space affects many aspects of Eastern, and the fine arts department is no exception. Offering classes at Rosemont is a solution.

Yet scheduling classes at Rosemont offers its own challenges.

“Rosemont classes are four credits, so it’s like putting together a puzzle when registering for classes,” Skinner said. “It’s very easy to go over 18.”

For Yurik, lack of communication from Rosemont was discouraging.

“I was a little upset at first when I realized that classes began a week before Eastern classes did,” she said. She added that the professors at Rosemont understand when classes are missed and that the classes are helpful.

“The programs [at Rosemont] force you to be independent,” Yurik said.

Skinner and Yurik decided to major in fine arts before coming to Eastern.

“I was really turned off by Messiah’s art program,” Yurik said of her decision to come to Eastern.

“I came in wanting to do art because I did it in high school,” Skinner said.

Not many art majors follow through with certification through Rosemont. Either they change schools or change majors.

“My goal is to [graduate] an art major,” Skinner said.

The program is looking toward the future.

“We need a director of the art program who can connect with Rosemont,” Matthews said. “It’s premature to talk about this because it’s in the process.”

He said that big things will be happening in the fine arts department in the next few years.

Matthews is optimistic that the addition proposed for Workman Hall will allow fine arts some space on campus. He mentioned the possibility for workspace, storage space, and perhaps a darkroom for photography.

The addition has been approved, according to Issue 3 of the Waltonian. Architectural designs are in the process.

“The art program needs more attention, and I think we are getting there,” Matthews said.

Bringing art classes to campus will require space and money. “If anyone has a check for $15 million, we will gladly accept,” Matthews said. “Building will start tomorrow.”

The Eastern Fine Arts Program

Concentrations include studio art, art education, art therapy, graphic design, interior design, art history and fashion design.

There will be two fine arts exhibits on campus in November 2006 and April 2007. Betsy Morgan coordinates the exhibits. More information is to come.

For more information about the Eastern University Fine Arts Program, please contact Ron Matthews at rmatthew@eastern.edu

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