I had the pleasure over the past several weeks to spend time with the weaving class at the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, and to work with them as they learned about tapestry weaving. I have special ties to the weaving classes at UNG since I began the program back in the day. The "day" being in 1972, in fact, the first year I began teaching at what was then North Georgia College, in the second year of a newly created department at the school.
In 1971 Bob Owens, a ceramicist and art educator, was appointed as head of the department that he'd been instrumental in developing NGC. The new department was called the Fine Arts Department and included music and theatre classes as well as those in visual arts. For the first years there were only a few of us on the faculty--three in visual arts, three in music, and one in theatre/speech. There were maybe 8 or 10 students majoring in visual art when we began offering bachelor degrees (B.S. in art education and in a degree we were calling craft design at the time).
Although we were a small department, like the little engine that said, "I think I can, I think I can!" we thought we could make a difference by having the option of an arts education degree for students to choose. And we did. Over the next twenty + years, art education majors from North Georgia found jobs throughout the region. They went on to make wonderful contributions to arts learning for youngsters, many of them being recognized as teachers of excellence in their schools and communities.
In fact, the visual art and music areas of the program grew to the point that they were made into two distinct departments several years ago. The university now covers four campuses throughout north Georgia and the Visual Arts Department has a combined total of around 28 or so faculty, including full and part-time members. The Visual Arts program has over 300 students across all campuses now. Here's a link to the Visual Arts Department at the University of North Georgia.
Today I visited the UNG Library and Technology Center to see the latest exhibit of senior art students' work. Once again I was impressed with the level of the technical abilities in the works created (this exhibit has sculpture, surface design on fabric, weaving, and digital work on display), as well as the thoughtful artist statements presented by each student.
Bob Owens is no longer with us; he passed on in 2004. But his legacy is certainly alive and well in the arts at the University of North Georgia. Congratulations, students, faculty and staff of the Visual Arts Department at UNG!
Now--a few photos from the tapestry sessions: