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Curtis Steele Commits Gift for Visiting Artist, Scholar Series


Kelly Damphousse and Curtis Steele
Curtis Steele (right), is congratulated by Chancellor Kelly Damphousse at his induction into A-State’s Legacy Society.

JONESBORO – Arkansas State University announced today a gift commitment to support a visiting artist and scholar series.

The donor, professor emeritus Curtis Steele of Jonesboro, is establishing the art education enrichment program as a tribute to his parents.  The Donald E. and Barbara L. Steele Visiting Artist and Scholar Endowment will enrich the Department of Art + Design's outreach and educational programming through support for accomplished professionals to share their experience and insight with A-State students, and the public via workshops and lectures.

Steele, a faculty member in art for 39 years until his retirement in 2017, will add to the endowment annually until it reaches the target level of $50,000.

Donald Steele, born in Iowa in 1904, and Barbara Lowe, born in Utah in 1910, met in Hollywood and married in 1934.  He enjoyed a 45-year career with an oil refinery in California, and was manager of its chemical lab.

The couple raised three sons, including Curtis, who majored in art then began his A-State career in 1978, teaching countless students and serving much of his career as the department chair.  The other brothers became a news magazine editor and a technical systems manager for a chemical company.

"My parents always supported the educational, professional and personal goals of my brothers and I," Curtis Steele recalled.  "Through this endowment program, I hope to support and enhance the educational goals of art students at A-State for many years to come."

Artists and scholars of the visual arts and design will be invited by the chair of the Department of Art + Design, based on the recommendations of the Visiting Artists and Scholars Committee. Those who come to campus will provide critiques and workshops for Art + Design students, and give a public lecture on their work.

The Department of Art + Design is dedicated to the creative, aesthetic and cultural development of visual art students that builds upon a well-rounded liberal arts education. The faculty prepares its students to assume leadership positions in their professional lives while maintaining a commitment to the conceptual and aesthetic standards of their chosen discipline.

“The Department of Art + Design is thrilled about the Steele Visiting Artist Endowment commitment," commented Dr. Temma Balducci, professor of art history and department chair.  "Having the financial means to invite nationally recognized contemporary artists to engage with students of Art + Design will provide incredible one-on-one educational experiences and make our program more competitive in the region.

"As the former chair of Art + Design, Curtis Steele well understands the positive impact this will have on our department moving forward," she added.  "We are grateful for his continued support.”

Four different Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, in studio art, graphic design, graphic design with digital design emphasis, and art education, are offered, along with the Bachelor of Arts degree in art history.

The department develops and supports a nurturing creative community that builds confidence through academic rigor and provides an environment in which students can build and refine their craft, develop critical thinking skills, and realize their full potential. Graduates of the Department of Art + Design join the community as socially responsible artists, designers, educators and historians ready to contribute to diverse and changing creative fields.

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