Graduating seniors from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia will gather with fellow students, friends, family and members of the community at The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art on Sunday, April 15 to celebrate the fourth annual COLLEGE CONNECTIONS exhibit: Placing the Capstone ART SPEAKS.
COLLEGE CONNECTIONS is an integral part of the Museum’s wide-ranging educational outreach programs, and features ongoing creative collaboration between the Museum and seniors from area colleges and universities. This year’s program, under the guidance of Dr. Leara Rhodes, Associate Professor of Journalism at The University of Georgia, and STMA’s Lisa Thomas Conner, is the culmination of a three-month long project-based literary arts publication of student essays inspired by the life and art of Steffen Thomas.
Beginning with a day-long Museum visit in early January, 20 seniors gathered to begin their exploration of Thomas’ work. Working individually and in groups with Museum staff, they spent the day listening to lectures, taking mini-tours of Thomas’ art and artifacts, and discussing issues affecting contemporary cultural arts.
By the end of the day, each student had selected a single piece of the artist’s work which resonated with them, the subject of which they would use to complete their assignment: to research and write a scholarly critical analysis of a work of Thomas’ art to be published and distributed in the community. With deadlines firmly established, the following months were marked by follow-up visits to the Museum, phone interviews with Lisa Thomas Conner, who is also the artist’s youngest child, as well as texts and emails back and forth.
According to Conner, such ongoing contact enabled students to dig deeper, making their writing rich, relevant and engaging. “I am so impressed with the students’ writing; they truly seem to have such fresh insight into the work of my father.” Dr. Rhodes commented, “Such a project deepens critical thinking and connection to community. The skills learned in this project are invaluable and will help to continue a lifelong relationship with the arts.”
This year alone, STMA’s educational outreach has served 1,100+ students in surrounding counties. Mission-driven and curriculum-based, the programs stress personal growth and creative expression – as well as ongoing connections and respect for family, community and the environment. For more information about the event, or to learn more about the Museum’s educational offerings, please visit www.steffenthomas.org or call the Museum at 706-342-7557. The Museum is located at 4200 Bethany Road, Buckhead, GA 30625, just outside Madison, and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.