Bryan College is hailed as a liberal arts school, but despite this the visual arts program at Bryan has struggled as an accessory to the college’s main programs of study.
“This is a liberal what college? You would think in that context there would be some sort of visual representation,” said Dr. Ray Legg, professor of English.
According Legg there has always been talk surrounding visual arts on campus. However, even with talk, the college has only ever had small programs which came and then fizzled out over the years, and never an official program with an accompanying major or minor.
Twelve years ago Legg researched and wrote a proposal for a visual art minor with the goal of eventually developing a full major. It was proposed at a time when the college faced financial struggles, and though it passed, it never officially became a minor due to lack of funding.
This might still be the status of the visual arts had Elaine Davis, instructor and art fellow, never pursued her desire to teach art classes at Bryan.
Davis graduated from Bryan in 2003 with a degree in Elementary Education. She taught kindergarten at Dayton City School, and then applied for and received a grant that enabled selected teachers to further their education through a master’s program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Davis said she realized what she really loved about teaching was the various art projects she got to do with the kids, so she decided to pursue a master’s in Art Education and moved to Knoxville, Tenn. to work on her degree full time.
Once she completed her degree Davis spoke to Dr. Bradford Sample, academic vice president, about teaching art classes at Bryan.
“I had always loved being at Bryan, and I had always wanted there to be more art here,” Davis said. She was surprised at how open to the idea he was, and in the spring 2010 semester Davis taught her first two classes: Painting I and Drawing I.
In fall 2010 Davis began her fellowship program, which allows her to teach three classes and take one online class as she works to achieve a master’s in Fine Arts, a terminal degree in art, through the Academy of Arts University based out of San Francisco, Calif.
But that is not all she is working towards. Along with teaching, Davis is keeping busy working to develop a minor in visual arts.
The minor will require students to complete 18 hours of credit. These classes include painting, drawing and sculpting classes as well as a class in fine arts, the history of arts and opportunities for photography and digital imaging classes.
The minor must go through several stages to receive official approval, and it has already passed the first two stages. To begin, a proposed minor must be approved by the department it is under, in this case the Communication Department. Next, the visual art minor was approved by the Humanities Division. Once it has received approval from the curriculum committee, it will be voted on by Academic Counsel.
Kathryn Saynes, assistant professor of education and member of Academic Counsel, said the minor will go before Curriculum Committee on April 3, and then possibly presented to Academic Counsel April 10, but the agenda is not yet set for that meeting.
Once passed by Academic Counsel, the minor will be presented before the entire faculty for a vote.
“I definitely feel the creative side of us is just as important as the logical and reasoning side… It is another way we can love God with our whole self and our whole mind and not just parts,” said Davis.
Davis said she has received “very supportive” responses from faculty and hopes to have the minor available at the start of next school year.