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Alfredo Ramon

Alfredo Ramon, who taught generations of Kalamazoo College students from 1958 to 1996 in K’s foreign study program in Madrid, Spain, passed away on January 30, 2015, at the age of 92, just days before an exhibition of his paintings opened at the Centro Cultural Nicolás Salmerón on 3 February. A professional painter, inspiring teacher, and genial lecturer, Alfredo embodied in his work and personality the history, spirit, culture, and character of Spain. He was an artist of great versatility who worked in a variety of media and subjects, from portraits to landscapes to street scenes. He also worked in diverse artistic areas such as restoration, stage and costume design, and poster painting. In the words of one of Madrid’s dailies reporting his death, he is perhaps best known for his street scenes of old Madrid which captured its soul and spirit and made of him a chronicler of the visual history of his adopted city. A master teacher, he conveyed to his Kalamazoo College and other American students the essence of Spain, past and present, through its artistic treasures. His classes in the Prado brought to life the glories of a Goya or Velasquez; a trip with him to Toledo resurrected the days of the Christian kings and El Greco. Alfredo was the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, and the list of his one-man shows dates from 1955 to 2015. His works are a part of permanent public and private collections in Spain and abroad, including Kalamazoo College, where he was well known as a visiting professor and frequent visitor. Alfredo Ramon was an esteemed colleague, a loyal and true friend of Kalamazoo College and its students. His contributions to the College and K students reach back to our first program in Madrid in 1958. In recognition of his achievements and role in the life of the College, Alfredo was awarded the degree Doctor of Fine Arts by Kalamazoo College in 1991. (Obituary by Joe Fugate)

 

Katina Bitsicas ’11

Katina lives in Columbia, Missouri, where she is an assistant teaching professor of digital storytelling at the University of Missouri. At K Katina earned her B.A. in art and participated in the GLCA Arts Program (New York City). She earned a post-baccalaureate degree from from SACI in Florence, Italy, and a M.F.A. from the University of South Florida. Katina’s work has been shown both nationally and internationally, and she has exhibited in multiple venues and festivals such as The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida; Project Space Kleiner Salon in Berlin, Germany; Index Art Center in Newark, New Jersey; Tractionarts in Los Angeles, California; and AIVA Video Art Festival in Finspång, Sweden.

Tom Rice, Professor of Art

Tom had a solo exhibition titled “Monuments to the Ephemeral” at the Firehouse Art center in Longmont, Colorado. The exhibit opened April 22 and ran through May 25. The exhibit comprised several large ink drawings on transparent plastic that explore ideas related to the effects of climate change on the environment. Tom wrote, “As early as the 19th century, American landscape painters of the Hudson River Valley School realized that the natural resources of the Americas were under assault by industrialization. Their work idealized the pristine landscape of the Americas in order to preserve and glorify its grandeur. My work references these paintings with a renewed alarm at the effect of climate change and the fragility of the environment. Monuments to the Ephemeral speaks to environmental concerns through the futile attempt to immortalize disappearing geological features in images that are even more fragile and ephemeral. Comprised of transparent plastic and ink, these drawings have a fairly short life span. In the gallery, they hang loosely against the wall and sway with any gentle breeze caused by the movement of our human bodies. To personalize the drawings, each piece also includes an excerpt from a love letter. Like the environment, love is ephemeral and can be nurtured or easily destroyed. Both subjects confront issues associated with loss.”

Mark Crilley ’88

ark CrilleyMark has published The Realism Challenge: Drawing and Painting Secrets from a Modern Master of Hyperrealism. The book is a step-by-step guide that teaches artists to draw and paint exact duplicates of common objects, rendered in the trompe l’oeil, hyper-realistic style of Mark’s popular YouTube video series, “Realism Challenge.” The eponymous book contains 30 lessons demonstrating how to render mirror-like duplicates in the trompe l’oeil tradition of everything from shells, leaves, and candy bars to your very own still life arrangements. Each lesson builds off the previous one in order to master essential artistic techniques like creating drop shadows, adding highlights, and building from light to dark. Mark is the author of Mastering Manga and Mastering Manga 2, as well as several manga novels, including the Akiko series, Miki Falls, the Billy Clikk novels, and Brody’s Ghost. Since being selected for Entertainment Weekly’s “It List” of the 100 most creative people in entertainment in 1998, Mark has published nearly 20 books and developed a massive Internet following for his drawing demonstration videos, earning him a spot as one of the top 25 Most Subscribed to Gurus on YouTube. At K Mark majored in art and studied abroad in Senegal.

Gail Griffin, Professor Emerita of English

Gail joined two other Kalamazoo writers in a recent issue of the journal Quarter Past Eight. It was the first time that longtime colleagues and fellow writers Gail and Di Seuss ’78 appeared in print together. Di is Writer-in-Residence and a professor in the English department. The two colleagues were joined in print by Hadley Moore ’99, a short story of whose appeared in that issue of the journal. Di’s piece won the journal’s Short Prose Contest. Gail’s two pieces were both finalists.

In other “English” news, Gail may have retired, but she keeps a close eye on K graduates in the arts. She sent us the following note:

Lisa Kron ’83 is almost sure to win the Tony Award for the book associated with the Broadway hit Fun Home, and possibly share the Tony for lyrics as well. Joe Tracz ’04 was just nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award (off-Broadway) for the musical The Lightning Thief. David France ’81, of course, received an Oscar nomination for his documentary film How to Survive a Plague, and it’s being turned into a series on F/X. It’s interesting to me that Lisa was a theatre arts major, Joe an English major, and David a political science major. And then there’s Jordan Klepper ’01 (a math major!) of The Daily Show fame and Steven Yeun ’05 (psychology) who plays Glen on the The Walking Dead. What a crop of media stars from K! And the breadth of their liberal arts journeys is incredible.”

Teju Cole ’96

Teju has published a new collection of essays titled Known and Strange Things. The topics are digressive and eclectic, just one element of their individual and intense interest. Teju is the author of two previous works, the novels Every Day is for the Thief and Open City. At K, Teju went by the name of Obayemi Onafuwa. He majored in art and art history. Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times wrote a review of the essay collection that includes a delightful interview with the author, including his final, wonderful and liberal arts-ish quote that ends the piece: “It’s OK not to be the smartest boy in class, because knowing how much you don’t know can then be the starting point for engaging with the world.”

Keeney Swearer ’13

Keeney has been hired as exhibit designer for the Mackinac State Historic Parks, working on Mackinaw Island and the mainland to design, build, and maintain exhibits for five state parks. He was part of a group art show at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center in Kalamazoo in February. Read more about Keeney and see his artwork at his website.

Tom Hennes ’78

Tom is working on the $150 million expansion and renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, scheduled for completion in 2020. Tom is founder of Thinc Design, a New York City-based firm that has provided exhibit designs for clients worldwide, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, the USA Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The Detroit-area native moved to New York City to become a theater designer after graduating from K with a B.A. degree in German. His assignment in Cleveland includes moving the Perkins Center from the north to the south side of the institution’s complex in University Circle, plus creating interior displays in the new main exhibit wing.

Kristian Bjørnard ’03

Kristian Bjørnard ’03Kristian is a new faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where he will teach courses in advanced design, interactive media and graphic design. Kristian is a designer, thinker and “sustainabilitist.” He is the director of “The Office of Kristian Bjørnard,” a design studio focused on publishing in all its forms. Kristian holds an MFA in graphic design from MICA; he earned his bachelor’s degree in art at Kalamazoo College. The artist nearly became an engineer. His exploration of physics and mathematics filtered through the lenses of painting and drawing led Kristian to graphic design. Current research includes “sustainable graphic design” and new publishing utilities. This has resulted in various “sustainable” aesthetic exercises, a more purposeful interest into systems, exploring reusable processes, a focus on rules-based design concepts, and investigating vernacular design methodologies. Kristian keeps abreast of current web trends, standards, and technologies, and explores time and motion in both digital and print media. His myriad interests make for interesting insights and connections among science, philosophy and the practice of design—-both in the classroom and in his professional practice.