The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) is proud to encourage the continued creative development and expansion of our faculty, offering them time and resources to pursue the interests that energize them beyond their classrooms.
Established in 2018 by Robert Purks, a long time Arts at Mason Board member and supporter, The Robert K. Purks Faculty Enrichment Endowment provides perpetual support to further the research and creative activity of faculty in the College. Faculty across CVPA can apply annually for funds in support of projects that fuel or are fueled by their own creative ideas and artistic expression.
For 2022, nine faculty members from the School of Art, the Film and Video Studies Program, and the Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music will use their grants to explore projects and work that ranges across mediums and styles, connecting communities and sharing new ideas.
Read on to learn more about each faculty member and their projects, in their own words.
Juana Medina, Assistant Professor in the School of Art, will integrate the stories, livelihoods, and cultural practices of Zapotec women of Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico into a children’s book centered on the community’s attainment of financial independence through mastering the art of Oaxaca rug weaving.
Justin P. Sutters, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Art, is attending the highly competitive leadership training program “School for Art Leaders,” hosted by the National Art Education Association (NAEA) in Bentonville, Arkansas. During the year-long training program, Sutters and his cohort will engage in workshops, interactive activities, and reflection exercises with trained mentors to advance his skills as an arts educator.
Peter Kimball, an adjunct faculty member within Film and Video Studies, is bringing his award-winning American Sign Language play “Millstone,” to the big screen, with the funds awarded from Purks financing on-set ASL interpreters and ASL coaches during the film’s pre-production.
Robert W. Gillam, Director of Music Technology in the Dewberry School of Music, is using his expertise and abilities as an electro-acoustic composer to research, write, and share music amplifying the benefits of National Parks.
James Justin Plakas, an Assistant Professor in Film and Video Studies and the School of Art, is merging historic photographic processes with motion picture film to create his multimedia project "Camaro Lucinda." With a vision to make the film "colorful, comedic, and visually dynamic," Plakas’s converging of several image-capturing methods is in the pursuit of creating a new, unique, and surreal visual experience for viewers.
Victoria Ellison, an adjunct faculty member within the School of Art, is attending a workshop in the art of Nihonga—a traditional Japanese mineral painting technique. The workshop, taught in Washington State by authority Judith Kruger, will allow Ellison to expand her artistry and share one of Japan’s oldest art practices with Mason students.
Samirah Alkassim, Assistant Professor in Film Theory, Film and Video Studies, is traveling to Jordan in pursuit of research for her upcoming book “A Journey of Screens in 21st Century Arab Film and Media,” (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2023). Exploring Jordan’s visual media over the last two decades, Alkassim will be visiting Jordan’s Department of the National Library, the Cinema Section of the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, and the library of Darat Funun to access their archives of film, film makers, and film history.
Mark Cooley, an Associate Professor within the School of Art, is using the Purks Faculty Enrichment Fund to support the distribution of his documentary "Fighting Indians," which premiered in November at the American Indian Film Institute. The film chronicles the last school in Maine - the homogenously white Skowhegan High School, known as "the home of the Indians" - as they fight to keep their mascot prior to the historic legislation banning Native American mascots in the State's public schools.
Edward Knoeckel, adjunct Professor within the Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music, is utilizing the Purks Faculty Enrichment Fund to implement problem-based learning (PBL) methodologies in a Music for Non-Majors course. With the objective to enhance students' learning experiences beyond traditional teacher-based approaches, Knoeckel will be spearheading a pilot study to analyze the effect of implementing the PBL learning style in a music appreciation course at Mason.