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Alumni Bob Harrell Donates Lerch Work

Bob Harrell, an alum from 1977, and his wife Kristin Kuhlman donated a painting by Harrell's uncle, Franz Lerch, an Austrian painter who left the country before the war because his wife was Jewish and he hated the Nazis. “Don’t ever return the painting to Austria.” That was the only stipulation Bob Harrell (pictured left) had for his recent donation of the Franz Lerch painting “Fishing Boats.” Lerch was an important figure in Austria’s Neue Sachlichkeit (New Realism wave) and happens to have been an uncle to MSU Denver alumnus Harrell. In the late 1930s, Lerch and his wife fled Austria due to his wife’s Jewish heritage, and the artist destroyed much of his work. Having witnessed the horrors of a Nazi-occupied nation, Lerch was adamant that his paintings never return to the country that had scorned his family. Now, Harrell and his wife Kristin Kullmann (right) are graciously entrusting MSU Denver with preserving “Fishing Boats,” one of the artist’s few remaining works, and honoring Lerch’s wishes. “I fully trust MSU Denver and the institution’s commitments to excellence, without reservation,” Harrell said. “Service and integrity are cornerstones which have enabled MSU Denver to build a sterling reputation and exhibit outstanding performance in the realm of higher education.” Soon, the colorful painting will hang in the Art Department conference room as part of a materials collection that was started by faculty in the Art History, Theory and Criticism program. “Art is a strong part of a culture’s history, and it is part of what shapes a culture’s values,” said Deanne Pytlinski, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of Art, who is excited at the opportunity to bring art and history alive for students.

Michael Matsushita | Class of 2020

Congratulations to Michael Matsushita (BFA Communication Design, Spring 2020) for gaining acceptance into Logo Lounge Book 12.

Over 40,000 logos were submitted globally with 3,000 gaining acceptance. Logo Lounge is one of the most prestigious identity design competitions in the industry and Logo Lounge Book 12 being the largest design volume yet to date.

Becky D'Arcey | Class of 2019

Alumni Becky D’Arcey earned a bachelor’s degree in Art History, Theory and Criticism. While she pursues a graduate degree, D’Arcey writes about art.

This fall, she also worked as a gallery host at the Denver Art Museum’s exhibit, “Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature.” Read Becky’s primer of Must-see Monet, from the largest exhibition of the french impressionist’s work in more than 20 years, as published in MSU Denver’s RED.

Angel Lopez | Class of 2016

After briefly attempting coursework in an unrelated field, Ángel López realized art is what made him happiest and began to explore design at MSU Denver. His senior experience course helped him focused on his core values and how those pillars related to his identity as a designer. Of those values, he said, “I use them as a driving force to combat social and cultural oppression,” he said. “I also use the pillars to celebrate the rich culture that I come from.” After graduating from the Communication Design program in 2016, Ángel was looking for a graduate program that allowed experimentation and innovation. He found that in the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons School of Design. “The program spoke about sustainability, social change, interdisciplinary collaboration, and actually working on contemporary issues,” he said. He encourages students with similar passions to make time to give themselves creative assignments outside of school and work. “There are so many moments of inspiration for an artist,” he said. “You may find inspiration in film, commercials, someone knitting, graffiti, food, music, from wherever. Challenge yourself to create from what inspires you.”

Madeliene Kittman | Class of 2015

Madeliene Kattman, currently a student in the Master of Arts program in the History of Art Department at the University of Toronto – first became interested in art history as an art student who discovered a passion for reading and writing about other artists’ works. She began studying Art History at MSU Denver and graduated from the program in 2015. “The academic program itself was challenging, but it really helped me to know what I wanted my research to be,” Madeliene said. With the help of faculty members, she narrowed her research focus to contemporary art, performance art, and its architecture. In addition to her time in the classroom, she worked at the Center for Visual Art for two years. For prospective art history students, Madeliene encourages engagement with the art community. “I think it’s important for art historians to be flexible, take criticism, enjoy reading, and be invested in their art community,” she said. “The best way to develop your research and to understand its implications is to talk to artists, curators, and other historians about their methods and what issues surround art and its histories.”

Molly Bounds | Class of 2014

Molly Bounds, a BFA in Art graduate, chose to concentrate on Printmaking for the freedom it provided. “Printmaking has a way of encompassing any medium you want so it felt the least confining as a major,” she said. “It felt limitless and without too many boundaries, which was the perfect thing for me. But the tight-knit print community is what ultimately drew me in.” She encourages art students to really support each other and care about each other as individuals rather than just networking. “You should not have to bend your beliefs or break your convictions to do what you love to do,” she said. Molly recently had a show entitled Critical Focus: Molly Bounds at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. “Showing at the MCA was an amazing opportunity, especially coming mostly from a world of DIY artist-run spaces,” Molly said. “Getting to show your work on a larger platform whether within an institution or on a giant wall is a position that is all at once liberating and vulnerable.”

Rory Overdorff | Class of 2012

Rory Overdorff first developed an interest in design during high school. “I had an amazing photography teacher in high school who I really admired and his philosophy for creativity not having boundaries,” Rory said. Since graduating, Rory has started working for Sphero, designing packaging for new products, including the company’s Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid. From his time as a student to his time as a professional now, Rory cites an ongoing appreciation for the freedom he finds in design work. “I owe a lot to the teachers I had in the program,” Rory said. “Peter Bergman sticks out to me because he always reminded us there is no right and wrong direction when given a project. I think it was that sense of freedom that a lot of professions don’t get that really made me appreciate the program. Design means so many things to so many people and I love thinking about having total control in my path as I grow as a designer.”

Rebecca Totman | Class of 2005

MSU Denver Department of Art alumna Rebecca Totman has over 10 years of experience in the television and animation industries. As an associate producer of animation for the long-running series “The Simpsons,” she manages over 180 artists and production personnel, as well as the complex 2D animation pipeline, to deliver 22 episodes per season. In addition to her work on “The Simpsons,” Rebeca has also produced and curated six collaborative art shows with her group, Love/Hate Los Angeles.

Submit Alumni Stories

MSU Denver Department of Art alumni are an important part of our past and future. We are making a cooperative effort with the Office of Alumni & Friends to help maintain its primary mission, which is to develop and maintain a knowledgeable and involved alumni constituency dedicated to the well-being of the University. If you are an alum who would like to share your “after experience” with students via this website and/or our social media channels, please contact us.

Alumni Stories, Art Stories and Events

MSU Denver Art students, alumni, faculty and staff are invited to submit your art stories and events so we can help spread the word on this website, in social media and via other promotions.

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