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College of Visual and Performing Arts

John O'Connell,  Dean

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

  • Office: Visual Arts Building
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Fine Arts | Music | Theatre | VCD

Expressions Archive: May 2013

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Welcome Dean John O'Connell Dean John O’Connell

Following a nationwide search, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Steven T. Sarratore announced the appointment of John O’Connell as the new dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), effective July 1, 2013. “The quality of the candidates who visited campus was high and I commend the search committee for their outstanding work. Please join me in welcoming John in his new (non-interim) role,” said Sarratore.

O’Connell has served as interim dean of VPA since July of last year. “I am grateful to the search committee and my colleagues for their vote of confidence in this appointment! I am excited about the tremendous possibilities that lie ahead for me working alongside our talented and dedicated colleagues in the College of Visual and Performing Arts,” said O’Connell on his selection.

O’Connell began his tenure at IPFW in 2007 as chair and professor of the Department of Theatre. From 1998 to 2007, O’Connell was at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark., as an assistant and associate professor of theatre. From 1995 to 1998 he was a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Prior to that, O’Connell worked in various off- and off-off-Broadway theatres as a producer, director and stage manager.


Top-Ranking Visual and Performing Arts Graduates

Top-Ranking Visual and Performing Arts Graduates

  • Highest Distinction - Heather M. Moser, B.A. in Theatre, 3.99 G.P.A.
  • Distinction - Tylar M. Allison, B.F.A. in Visual Communication and Design, 3.96 G.P.A.
  • Distinction - Kearstyn M. Keller, B.A. in Theatre, 3.95 G.P.A.
  • Distinction - Amy E. Schwarz, B.M.E. in Music Education, 3.94 G.P.A.
  • Distinction - Nicole M. Metzger, B.A. in Art Education, 3.93 G.P.A.

Spring 2013 Dean’s List

The College of Visual and Performing Arts is pleased to report that 23.7% of our students or 150 out of 633, made the Dean’s List for spring 2013. The Dean’s List is reserved for students who have achieved a 3.5 minimum cumulative G.P.A. and a minimum 3.0 G.P.A. for the semester. CVPA extends a hearty congratulation to these students for their hard work and dedication to their studies.

VPA Hits a Home Run

three rivers logo

In April, students from IPFW Visual Communication and Design (VCD) won $1,000 for their department by designing and presenting their campaign for a new logo and promotional materials for the Three Rivers Festival (TRF) at the downtown Allen County Library. Faculty advisor and continuing lecturer John Motz helped the VCD students prepare for the design competition that included teams from the University of Saint Francis, Indiana Tech and Ivy Tech. “Through strong research, excellent design and a professional-quality presentation by the students we won the competition and secured the $1,000 prize,” explained Motz.

The PITCH, an event devised and sponsored by the American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne (Fort Wayne AdFed), was a competition for area university graphic design students to create a marketing plan, new artwork and communication tools for the Fort Wayne Three Rivers Festival 2013. Students had to pitch their concepts to local ad agency executives and Jack Hammer, executive director of TRF, in an attempt to win the prize money.

The PITCH was designed to provide an opportunity for university students to work with actual clients in the community, helping them enhance essential skills to take with them into their future careers. Fort Wayne AdFed members who organized this event included Megan Tiffany (’10), a VCD alumna and email designer with Vera Bradley, and Michael Limmer, vice president of marketing, Fort Wayne TinCaps. The event was such a great success they already are making plans for next year. ”I was blown away by the local talent from our students and their sheer enthusiasm in their presentations,” explained Tiffany. “All schools talked about ‘next year’ and how great the experience was.”

Fort Wayne AdFed directors already have begun planning for next year's PITCH competition and plan to prepare the students for another great experience. To learn more about Fort Wayne AdFed visit


Excellence in Research Award

Assistant Professor of Art Education Laurel Campbell

The College of Visual and Performing Arts Faculty Affairs committee has awarded Assistant Professor of Art Education Laurel Campbell the VPA Excellence in Research/Creative Endeavor Award for 2013. Campbell’s recent project, an anthology titled, “The Heart of Art Education: Holistic Approaches to Creativity, Transformation, and Integration,” published in September 2012 by the National Art Education Association was the focus of her application.

The committee took note of not only her recent book publishing, but also her collaboration with other scholars who contributed to the book and her “myriad articles and presentations in publications and conference.” The committee noted this was all evidence of diligence in Campbell’s research and growing national reputation. Campbell received a $1,000 award and will be added to plaque honoring past recipients currently on display in the dean’s office.

Campbell co-edited the book with Dr. Seymour Simmons III from Winthrop University; they reviewed more than 70 submissions in order to end up with 36 chapters, and spent years editing the material to perfection. The 34 authors are from the U.S., Canada, Sweden and South Korea. Campbell’s research chapter was the culmination of many years of work on various topics, including spirituality in teaching, curriculum theory, theory in practice and teacher education.


Sasha Allgayer – Graduate Student Employee of the Year

Sasha Allgayer – Graduate Student Employee of the Year

IPFW’s Career Services (CS) and Financial Aid Office (FAO) awarded Sasha Allgayer the Graduate Student Employee of the Year award in April. Allgayer works for the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) as the producer of the weekly television series Arts Weekly and was recognized for his commitment to IPFW and the arts.

IPFW has more than 850 student employees and in an effort to recognize the invaluable work these students do, each year CS and FAO ask for nominations for this award that consists of a plaque and a cash award to be used for education. Nominated by Melinda Haines, assistant to the VPA dean for community engagement and host of Arts Weekly, Allgayer was congratulated for treating his graduate assistantship like a career with a high level of professionalism in what can be a high-stress environment.

“Sasha is wonderful to work with,” explained Haines. “All of our guests and team and crew members enjoy working with him. He is respectful, smart, industrious and hard working. When presented with a new challenge, he doesn't panic but works through it, alerting team members in advance if necessary. He always has a smile on his face and is willing to go the extra mile.”

Jeff Casazza Wins Leepoxy Plastics Teaching Award  Jeff Casazza – Leepoxy Plastics Teaching Award Winner

Jeff Casazza, associate professor of theatre, won the Leepoxy Plastics, Inc. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for his innovative approach to teaching Theatrical Composition. The award was established in 2003 by area businessman Lawrence Lee to recognize and encourage innovative undergraduate teaching that enhances student learning.

The selection committee, comprised of two faculty members, two students and a staff member designated by the vice chancellor of academic affairs, chose Casazza from among five nominees from three colleges. In coming to a consensus on the winner, the insights and perspectives of the student members of the committee were particularly persuasive. Further, Casazza provided ample convincing evidence showing that his innovation enhanced learning outcomes. The chancellor will present Jeff with the award and $1,000 in professional development funds at the annual convocation ceremony in August 2013.


Jazz Combo Invited to Play in NYC

Jazz Combo Invited to Play in NYC

The jazz combo Postmodern Prohibition was invited to perform at the New York City Jazz Festival held April 18-21. Sponsored by Sweetwater Sound, which helped finance the trip, the group (also known as the Sweetwater Jazz Project) includes two IPFW music majors, sophomores Evan Gidley on sax and Travis Lyons on guitar, and two high school seniors, Leland Nelson on bass from Canterbury High School and Sean Christian Parr on drum set from Carroll High School.

Postmodern was one of only ten groups selected to play at the festival. Other festival performers included four big bands from high schools and a middle school from California, Florida, New Jersey and Canada, along with five vocal jazz ensembles from high schools and a small university. They performed in the Allen Room located in Jazz at Lincoln Center, located on the fifth floor of the Time Warner building, overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park.

“The entire experience was very memorable,” reflected Gidley, “and it was a ton of fun to finally go after all of the hours spent playing gigs around town to make the money we needed to pay our portion of the trip.”

Other highlights of their trip included listening to live jazz at Birdland and the Jazz Standard jazz club, participating in a clinic by a local jazz pianist David Berkham and attending a Q&A session with John Fedchock, a trombonist from NYC, and Janis Siegal, one of the members of the renowned vocal jazz group, the Manhattan Transfer. The festival concluded with a concert featuring Fedchock’s big band and Siegal singing with members of the vocal jazz ensembles, followed by a midnight cruise on the New York Harbor for the festival’s participants.

A Visceral Interpretation of Space Gregor Roth

In May, Visual Communication and Design (VCD) alum Gregor Roth (’11) received his M.F.A. in Studio Arts from Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland, Maine. The 2013 M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition of the graduates’ work is on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA from May 14 through June 12. Roth has served as adjunct faculty in VCD while working on his advanced degree. MECA offers a low-residency M.F.A. in Studio Art, among the first of its kind in the nation.

Roth’s project abstract explains his view that typically art viewership is a static process where one stands in front of the image, gazing and studying, never merging in a real and natural manner with the artwork, rarely making more than a short-term emotional connection. In Roth’s site-specific thesis installation, string and yarn act as line and are used to draw in space to construct the illusion of structure. Roth asks the viewer to engage in a more intuitive and visceral interpretation of space by forming a third environment, encouraging the viewer to merge physically and emotionally in the work, altering his perceptions of space and time. Roth’s work has been well-received and contemporary performance groups are interested in exploring more about his visceral interpretation of space.


Sara Nordling Exhibition

 Sara Nordling Exhibition

 The solo exhibition Plication, Weavings by Sara Nordling currently is being shown at The Arts Place in Portland, Ind., from May 17 – June 28, 2013. Her weavings celebrate the process of producing textiles that stand on their own; works that are simple yet very complex. Nordling, adjunct faculty in the Department of Fine Arts, teaches design and painting for non-majors. Visit The Arts Place online for more information.

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Alumni Successes

2012-2013 Outstanding Seniors, Elected by the Department of Music Faculty:

Outstanding Senior in Music Technology: Adam Robison

Outstanding Senior in Music Performance: Dalen Wuest, Saxophone

Outstanding Senior in Music Education: Kavin Ley

Outstanding Senior in Music Therapy: Cassandra Haines

Outstanding Senior in Music and an Outside Field: Hope Arthur


Recent graduate Amy Schwarz (’13), having earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree at IPFW, has been accepted into Indiana University’s Master’s in Public Affairs and Arts Administration program in Bloomington.

Shannon Schoville (’11, music) earned her Master’s of Music with a concentration in opera in May from Converse College in Asheville, North Carolina.

Adam Hamilton (’11, theatre) currently is an M.F.A. candidate at Regent University in Virginia Beach and will be the head intern for the inaugural season of Tidewater Stage, Regent’s new professional theatre company in residence, beginning July 2013. The summer 2013 season includes Forever Plaid July 5-14 and Barefoot in the Park Aug. 2-11.  Hamilton currently is playing the role of Lord Biron in Love's Labours Lost  at the Tidewater Shakespeare Theatre in Virginia Beach through June 1, then will begin work on his M.F.A. thesis role playing Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors in October.

Jeff Casazza, associate professor of theatre, will be training in the Linklater technique and rehearsing and performing The Proserpina Variations: The Wrath of Mother Nature in Italy in July. He will be presenting three workshops for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education National Theatre Conference in Orlando, Florida, from August 1 – 4, 2013.

Recent graduate Kearstyn Keller (’13, theatre) was accepted into the Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts program at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.  During the academic year, the School of Theatre and Dance mounts approximately15 productions of varying scope and complexity on three separate stages. A select group of students each year are selected to study for a month at the famed Moscow Art Theatre School.

Mezzo-soprano and adjunct music faculty member Ashlee Beth Bickley will be singing the title role in Rossini’s Cenerentola at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s Realizing Rossini Festival on July 6.

Ashlee Beth Bickley’s student Okara Imani, a double major in music performance, with a concentration in voice and music therapy, is the new Miss IPFW for 2013 and will be representing IPFW in the Miss Indiana pageant in June. “I believe a large part of her success in pageants has to do with the talent portion,” explained Bickley. Imani sang “At Last” for the Miss IPFW talent portion and will be singing another jazz standard for the Miss Indiana pageant.  Imani’s platform is entitled “We Can Do More to Treat Veterans, and Music Can Help.”

Associate Professor of Music Melanie Bookout is on the board of directors of the Viola da Gamba Society of America and will be travelling to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., for the 51st annual VdGSA Conclave in July.  Bookout will have a series of articles published in their future VdGSA newsletters and she has been appointed co-chapter liaison for this society.

Department of Visual Communication and Design

Spring 2013 B.F.A. Exhibition Awards, April 19, 2013

  • 1st Place Graphic Design
    Simone Mullin-LeClear
  • 2nd Place Graphic Design
    Simon Fisher
  • 3rd Place Graphic Design
    John Ilang-Ilang
  • 1st Place Imaging and Photography
    Lucas Carter
  • 2nd Place Imaging and Photography
    Barbara Mendez
  • 3rd Place Imaging and Photography
    Ryan Hake
  • 1st Place Modeling and Animation
    Tony Gerardot
  • 2nd Place Modeling and Animation
    David Perry
  • Best-in-Show
    Simone Mullin-LeClear
  • Viewers’ Choice
    Barbara Mendez
  • Outstanding Senior
    Simon Fisher
  • Excellence in Graphic Design
    John Ilang-Ilang
  • Distinguished Service in VCD
    Simon Fisher