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Department of Theatre

Craig A. Humphrey
Interim Department Chair and Professor

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard
Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499

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VPA Celebrates 2014 Graduates

The IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts celebrated the accomplishments of 85 graduates from the Departments of Fine Arts, Music, Theatre and Visual Communication and Design during commencement at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum May 14, 2014. Graduates from fall 2013, spring 2014 and anticipated graduates from summer 2014 received diplomas and accolades for their stellar achievements, including students who received distinction and highest distinction during their college career.  They include:

Barbara Nohinek – Highest Distinction, Bachelor of Fine Arts
Amaya Mireya Ayers – Distinction, Bachelor of Fine Arts
Jason P. Simon – Distinction, Bachelor of Music
Carly Jean Thompson – Distinction, Bachelor of Arts
Jeffery Allen Weimer – Distinction, Bachelor of Arts

Our 2014 graduates were among 1,928 total graduates, earning 225 master’s degrees, 1,452 bachelor’s degrees, 281 associate’s degrees, and 105 certificates.

Students’ Hard Work Pays Off

Roughly 28 percent or 160 students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ student body were named to the Spring 2014 Dean’s List. Graduates and students who earned a 3.5 GPA or higher for the spring semester will be invited to receive their certificates at the Honors Convocation on October 5, 2014. They include:

37 Fine Arts students - 33.9% of their majors
47 Music students - 30.5% of their majors
12 Theatre students - 24.2% of their majors
64 VCD students - 27.8% of their majors

Mantravadi Receives 2014 Award

Two very special people, R. Prasad Mantravadi, M.D., and Michael Nusbaumer, Ph.D., professor of sociology, were honored by Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) for their outstanding service and contributions. ‘These men have done great things for the university, its students, and the community,” said Chancellor Vicky Carwein. “It is a pleasure to recognize and honor their work.”

Mantravadi received the 2014 IPFW Champion Award on May 13, 2014. Passionate about Indian culture and community service, Prasad was instrumental in helping local residents create Shruti, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing Indian culture with the people of Fort Wayne. Through Shruti, Mantravadi and other Indian community leaders began discussions with IPFW’s College of Visual and Performing Arts that grew into what is now the Indian Performance Series at IPFW.

“Prasad’s efforts impacted both IPFW students and the community by bringing new cultural learning experiences and opportunities to Fort Wayne,” said Chancellor Vicky Carwein. “He built bridges of music and dance, and then invited students and community members alike to share his passion for these arts.”

The first event in the series took place in fall 2012. The series includes two performances each year during the fall and spring semesters.

Mantravadi came to Fort Wayne in 1983 after serving as a clinical associate professor at the Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine and the University of Illinois Hospital. He has been honored for his volunteer work, public education efforts, and outstanding patient care by both the national American Cancer Society and the Indiana State American Cancer Society.

The IPFW Champion Award is given each year to members of the community to recognize outstanding efforts and contributions toward connecting the university with the community it serves. The first recipients of this award were Donald McArdle, Elias Samaan, and Alfred Zacher in 2011. Other recipients include Karl LaPan (2012), Maclyn Parker (2012), and David Molfenter (2013).

For more about Michael Nusbaumer, Ph.D., recipient of the 2014 Chancellor’s Medal click here.

McCroskey Wins Excellence in Service

Associate Professor Nancy McCroskey has received the College of Visual and Performing Arts 2014 Excellence in Service Award. McCroskey continues her tradition of dedication to her department, students, and colleagues by representing them on important, difficult, and time-consuming service commitments. For example, this past year Nancy represented our college on the University Taskforce on Promotion and Tenure; an extremely important committee to all of our faculty. Since 2000, McCroskey continues to serve her department as the coordinator of the Annual Department Assessment Report, time-consuming and taxing on anyone willing to undertake the endeavor.

Nancy continues to serve her students as adviser to the Ceramics Club and a driving force in bringing world-class regional and national artists to campus for workshops benefiting all fine arts students. In Fort Wayne, Nancy is recognized for the boards she has served on over the years and for the commissions of public art that are on display across campus and Fort Wayne, completed during her tenure here at IPFW.   

The Excellence in Service Award comes with a $1,000 stipend, the recipient’s name on a service plaque located in the Dean’s office and acknowledged during the fall convocation on Monday, August 25, 2014.

David-West Presents Research in Spain

Professor Haig David-West was invited to present a paper on his field research in Cuba at the International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities (ICNDH) at San Pablo University, Madrid, Spain from June 11 – 13, 2014. David-West is the chair of the Department of Visual Communication and Design and his research paper is entitled Ancestral, African Cultural Signifiers in Afro-Cuban Visual Art: An Analysis of the Presence of Ekpe and Abakuá Iconography.

The international conference draws researchers, practitioners, and scholars from a wide range of cultures and disciplines who have a shared interest in themes and concerns regarding the humanities. Delegates from more than 50 countries and all continents were in attendance.

Alumnus “Hooked” on Crochet

Robert Hoffman (’07, B.F.A. in painting) has become well known among the Baltimore, Maryland, art community, where reporters have dubbed him Baltimore Highlandtown’s favorite yarn bomber. Yarn bombing is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber rather than paint or chalk. The yarn installations, called yarn bombs or yarn storms are about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places.

Hoffman quickly entered the art scene once he moved to Baltimore and participated in several shows for worthy causes, which brought interest in his imagery and sales of his art. Recently, he was involved in coordinating a yarn bomb installation in cooperation with the American Craft Council’s YarnBOMBS AWAY which was on display at the Pratt Street entrance of the Baltimore Convention Center from Feb. 21-23, 2014.

“I have aligned myself with an establishment called Baltimore Threadquarters (BTQ), a fiber store and art collective in the Highlandtown neighborhood where I live,” said Hoffman. “I continue to use my degree by combining my drawings and self-taught fiber art into two-dimensional works that coincided with my three-dimensional fiber work.”

Multi-Talented Student Named as Finalist

Fine arts major and ceramist Jan Krist-Finkbeiner, renowned as a professional folk musician, along with her songwriting partner Jim Bizer, recently were named as finalists in the 2014 Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Songwriters Competition held annually in Kerrville, Texas. Thirty-two finalists were selected from a field of 800 entries to share two of their original songs in an afternoon appearance on the stage of the Threadgill Theater. From these 32 finalists, six winners are selected by a small group of well-established performing songwriters.

A win at Kerrville carries considerable prestige in the singer-songwriter community, in part due to the peer-professional judging and the festival’s long history of recognizing emerging artists who have later gone on to wider success. Although Krist and Bizer were not among the final winners, there are examples of notable performers who have appeared as finalists in the competition without ever earning a win such as Nanci Griffith (1978) and Lyle Lovett (1980, 1982). Visit the 2014 Winner’s Page for a complete rundown of the finalists.


Hamilton's Love of Theatre: Contagious

Department of Theatre alumnus Adam James Hamilton, 26, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and formerly of Fort Wayne, died Saturday, June 7, 2014, at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne. He was involved in a head-on crash on U.S. 33 in Ohio, as he was returning home for a family reunion. He received a B.A. in theatre from IPFW in 2011 and a M.F.A. in theatre performance from Regent University in 2014. All of Hamilton’s fellow M.F.A. cohorts traveled from Regent University and attended at his funeral on June 12 at Feller and Clark Funeral Home in Auburn, Ind.

Known by many as the “gentle giant,” Hamilton was hard to overlook at 6’8” tall. He performed in a variety of productions while at IPFW including character roles in The Taming of the Shrew, The Lark, The Diviners, The Yellow Boat, Down the Road, Wonderful Town and Shakespeare’s King Lear.

“Adam was a dedicated theatre major while he was at IPFW, certainly loved acting, auditioned for every show while he was here and was cast in many,” said VPA Dean John O’Connell, who was chair of the Department of Theatre during Hamilton’s undergraduate work. “He served his peers by acting as president of the Student Theatre Organization from 2009-11 and as our college's new student orientation representative between his junior and senior year. We were very proud that Adam went on to graduate school immediately after graduating with his B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in acting. He will be missed by so many in our community.”

Hamilton’s untimely death came as a shock to his peers and educators at Regent University, who had just conferred Hamilton’s Master of Fine Arts degree on May 3, 2014.  “Adam was a wonderful actor who brought joy and laughter both on and off the stage. He was a tremendous stand-up comedian, too,” said Dr. Mitch Land, Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Regent University. “We pray for his family, devoted friends and other loved ones during this time.”

His credits at Regent include The Three Musketeers, Blithe Spirit, The Adding Machine, Fiddler on the Roof and Almost, Maine. His M.F.A. thesis role was as Antipholus of Syracuse in Regent’s production of Comedy of Errors.

“After spending the last three years together, I know none of us in the Regent family will ever forget him,” remarked Associate Professor Eric Harrell, who also serves as the producing artistic director of the Tidewater Stage, the professional summer theatre affiliated with Regent University. “He had a heart as big as his stature, a gentle kindness that made him a friend to all and a passion for the theatre that was contagious.”

West’s Work at Cherished at FWMoA

In 2009, Jamie West, then Jamie Cook, a senior at IPFW, made a bold leap and entered a contest. “I remember her telling me she had entered a painting into this contest and that she had won,” said John Hrehov, professor and chair of the Department of Fine Arts. “She also said the Fort Wayne Museum of Art had purchased it from her after the show and I thought she was kidding me, but she wasn’t. I have never had a student receive that kind of honor before or since.”

The painting, titled Cupcake, is a portrait of a giant cupcake rendered in rich colors. It is described by the museum as “a whimsical depiction of a sweet treat, inviting the viewer into a world of happy sentiments.” The painting was the fulfillment of an assignment Hrehov gives to his advanced painting students each year. It requires the use of a style called super realism, which is part of photo realism.

For the painting assignment, the student is asked to take an everyday object out of context through the use of scale. The stretchers are built by the student in the shape of the object they choose. “Using a shaped canvas changes the orientation of the artist, forcing them to work out of the box. The paintings end up having a sculptural quality,” said Hrehov.

Knowing that Jamie's painting is part of the permanent collection of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has given comfort to many who knew her, especially in light of the tragic circumstances surrounding her death. Jamie was killed by a drunk driver while attending Austin’s South by Southwest music festival on March 13, 2014.  She and her husband, Evan West, were riding on a moped when they were struck. Jamie was pronounced dead at the scene and Evan, critically injured, was taken to the hospital where he continues to recover.

“I was so sorry to hear about Jamie's death,” said Hrehov, “She was a student who was loved and admired by everyone in the department and will be greatly missed.”

Many who knew Jamie remember her as a kind-hearted young woman. Jamie and Evan West met while attending Garrett High School in Garrett, Indiana. The two had moved to Austin where Jamie took a job as a sales and inventory clerk for Eliane et Lena Boutique and a second job as a jewelry assembler at Leighelena Jewelry.

“She was a wonderful person and an ideal student,” said Christopher Ganz, associate professor of Fine Arts. “She was passionate about art and very intelligent.”

Ganz recently had recommended West for a fellowship at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. “She was very excited and I’m pretty sure she would have gotten it,” he said. “She had her whole life in front of her. It’s really sad this happened.”