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Arthur Skinner
Chair and Professor of Visual Arts

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Interdisciplinary Arts

Interdisciplinary Arts

IA Prehistory

Although the IA major at Eckerd is relatively new (since 2006), we have long encouraged interdisciplinary approaches to the arts, and some of our very best arts students during IA's "prehistory" have crossed those bridges in one way or another. Indeed such individuals were the very model and inspiration for IA's existence. A few of these alumni predecessors are here mentioned:

Taryn Sabia ('01) spent many hours in the Eckerd Dance program* while also pursuing her Visual Arts major. A visually impaired student, Taryn had long been concerned with the issue of equal access to opportunity. Her interests in body movement and visual arts was evident in her thesis exhibition (photographs, some of them printed on ceramic slabs, depicting dancers). Upon graduation Taryn earned her Masters in Art Education at Harvard, and following that she earned her Masters of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. Now she is a practicing architect in Tampa, and co-founder of the Tampa Urban Charrette, a forum created to discuss how the design of the city of Tampa may become more sustainable.

*(Dance is not currently offered at Eckerd as an academic course, but we do have an Eckerd Dance Team).

Kristin Harrison ('01) developed a concentration bridging Literature and Visual Arts, and her thesis gallery exhibition was a series of photographs imaginatively illustrating one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Since graduating Kristin earned an MFA in photojournalism at the University of Texas, and she has served on the editorial staff of several magazines, and freelances for the Washington Post and National Geographic Traveller.

Stuart Hyatt's ('97) interests at Eckerd included both art and music. As a Visual Arts major his thesis gallery exhibition was a sound installation, a veritable solar system of uniquely painted fiberglass spheres suspended from the ceiling, each embedded with its own original sound track that the listener/viewer would plug into with headphones.

Stu went on from Eckerd to get his MFA in sculpture at Indiana University. Thereafter his first position of employment was Artist in Residence at the Coleman Arts Center in Sumter County Alabama, one of the poorest counties in that state. Stu drove up and down all the back roads of the county in his pickup truck, collaborating in making and recording original music with school children and gospel singers. The resulting cd, titled Clouds, was so fresh and inspiring that it made the rounds of radio stations as far away as New Jersey, and it was ultimately picked up by the American Composers Forum and issued on their Innova label. Not only that, but Stu's original cd package design, using recycled materials, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award in 2006!

Stuart is founder and owner of Team Records, and he continues to be involved in innovative recording projects.  And more recently, he has also gone on to earn a Masters in Architecture from Ball State University, and is now a member of M12, an award-winning collaborative group of artists and designers devoted to community arts projects. M12 was represented in the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, in 2012.

Blaze Birge Jones ('97) collaborated with her show partner NiCole Manuel to stage a stunning performance work in the gallery for their senior thesis, transforming the gallery space into a cabaret, complete with original dance, music and costume. After graduation Blaze went to London to learn the art of trapeze, and then co-founded the Flynn Creek Circus, headquartered deep in the forests of Mendocino County, California. The circus is described as "pushing tradition to the edge," and is dedicated not only to performance throughout northern California but also to the arts of the community, offering classes and workshops.

With these several examples of IA prototypes, it should be plain why we were inspired to create the Interdisciplinary Arts major, to give shape and identity to what has been done so well in the past here, and to raise a banner high in hopes of attracting students who are similarly innovative and inspired to creatively integrate their arts experience at Eckerd.

The Arts at Eckerd

Since our first senior class in 1964 we have graduated nearly 500 majors in Visual Arts, and many have gone on to graduate school in a variety of fields. Click here for a list of graduate schools our alumni have attended since 2000.