An interview with Mr. Kelly Phelps of the Art Department

By: Zenab Saeed ~Staff Writer~

Xavier University’s Art Department, located in the A.B. Cohen Center, is looking forward
to continued success.

Kelly Phelps, the current chair of the Art Department, shared his experiences and goals for his first year in the department.

Phelps received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in ceramics and sculpture from Ball State University and his Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics and sculpture from the University of Kentucky, joining Xavier in 2003.

He is also the head of the sculpture program, where he teaches all levels of sculpture, 3-D design, drawing and the senior seminar course.

Before coming to Xavier, Phelps was a faculty member at the University of Dayton, where his identical twin brother is currently a professor in visual arts.

Though Phelps loves teaching all of his classes.

On teaching: “I think my two favorites would be sculpture, of course, because it’s my first love: transforming raw materials into beautiful three-dimensional objects.

“The second most favorite course would be my senior seminar course, which allows students to see behind the scenes into what art making is: the business and technical side of art.

On the art department: “Xavier students are sometimes oblivious to the going-ons of the department because of the Cohen Center’s  remote location. Traditionally, a lot of schools have art departments, and they typically are on the outer edge of the campus. It would be nice to have an art department that is right in the main heart of campus, but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.”

However, Phelps is still hopeful for the future of the art department and looks forward to seeing how the department will progress. “A lot of schools are so incredibly techno driven and depend on technology, 3-D printers, CNC replicating machines and things of that nature.

“What I would like to see in our department is to maintain a sense of craft within the fine arts but also be progressive in a way that we are just as competitive as the larger schools.

On the objectives of the art school: “I like to think we’re a program that’s a graduate school for undergraduate students, because we have a small class ratio. Our students are often working directly with the professors, so there’s a lot of one-onone interaction and contact in the classroom. We’re all professional artists first and educators second, so we do have that one on one interaction with students.”

Phelps is also looking forward to the future.

On Arts and Innovation: “Now with this whole new School of Arts and Innovation that is coming on way, we hope to interact more with the other disciplines music, theater and art, so that we’re not working against each other. We’re considered a division where music, theatre and art are together and more unified and we can help to promote each other, especially when it comes to recruiting and college fairs.

On the Xavier student body: “I love Xavier and I love the students here,” Phelps said. “The students are spectacular and they’re just marvelous, energetic and very hungry students. I think the only downside about being here in Cohen is the disconnect between campus and where we’re located, but I still enjoy it.

“I think the students are definitely starting to figure out who they are. It takes a while to figure out who you are in the visual arts world anyway, but by the time they get out, they’re really prepared to go on to the next level whether that be grad school or work in the art world.”