$1.5 million gift to create program drawing master artists and scholars to campus

26th October 2017

A new fine arts program at IU Southeast will bring master artists and creative scholars of national and international renown to teach, work and research at the university on a temporary basis.

Supported by a $1.5 million bequest through the Brian and Cynthia Jones Artist in Excellence Fund, the Master Artists and Scholars Program will attract prominent multi-disciplinary artists, art historians, authors and critics to share their knowledge with the campus and community.

Through a diverse mix of lectures, workshops, seminars and gallery exhibitions, the Master Artists and Scholars Program will serve as an invaluable resource for IU Southeast students and the local public to develop a greater appreciation for and understanding of contemporary art, design and scholarship.

“Our students need that experience, that interaction, that inspiration and that networking,” Brian Jones said.

Brian Jones, Cynthia Torp and Chancellor Ray Wallace smile together during the 2017 IU Southeast Founder’s Day Luncheon.

Both Jones and his wife, Cynthia Torp, have deep connections to IU Southeast and its students. Jones taught fine arts at IU Southeast for 36 years and, since he never had biological children of his own, always considered his students to be members of his family. Torp graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from IU Southeast in 1984 and has hired six graduates for her visitor destination design and build company, Solid Light.

The couple has supported three scholarships for gifted and talented students, including the Kate Torp Fine Arts Scholarship at IU Southeast.

Because the IU Southeast Fine Arts program is geographically separated from a major metropolitan art center, Torp and Jones see an inherent value in bringing artistic talent and knowledge directly to students. The ability to watch and learn from a diverse range of master artists and scholars will further prepare IU Southeast students for the highly competitive professional arts world.

“It has been our life’s work to help expand and enrich the creative class and culture of this region,” Torp said. “We hope by supporting IU Southeast and its fine arts students through this enrichment program, we will continue that work growing a vibrant creative culture in the future, and that is the legacy we want to leave the Louisville area.”

Master Artists and Scholars Program invitees will be selected through a search process determined by a committee composed of Fine Arts studio and art history faculty.

In addition to teaching an Honors Seminar, they will be required to teach a hands-on Honors Intensive Workshop open to students and the community, present creative work in a one-month exhibition at the Ronald Barr Gallery, present two public lectures in the Paul W. Ogle Center and participate in a professional dialogue with members of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Residencies will last from two weeks to a semester.

Torp and Jones envision that the program will enhance the Fine Arts program’s reputation in the region, as well as shine a brighter light on the existing talent the program produces.

“The recognition of IU Southeast’s arts and culture assets is an important aspect of the economic development in our metro area,” Jones said. “Creatively acknowledging and marketing such assets can attract bright and talented students to the university, and nourishing a creatively strong workforce and successful businesses, helping to sustain a positive quality of life in our region. A viable creative artist and scholar program at IU Southeast is essential to that development.”

This gift counts toward the $2.5 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.

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