FSU professors showcase their latest academic works

FSU professors Timothy McDonald and Erika Schneider spoke about their latest projects at the “Authors and Artists” event held on Wednesday, March 23 in the Heineman Ecumenical Center.

These professors held in-depth discussions focused on McDonald’s sabbatical project and the release of Schneider’s newest publication.

Although these talks promote the work of professors on campus, organizers of the event said the main focus is to “celebrate faculty” and to show students and audiences their “creative process.” 

While meant to support and encourage staff, this particular series was also intended to inspire students and demonstrate that the artistic journey is different for everyone.

In the first presentation, “…from dream to dream,” McDonald discussed his 2013 sabbatical project in which he traced the steps of American author and poet Henry David Thoreau.

His journey would require conquering 11 mountains and involve 15 walks in and around New England, which would serve as the inspiration for his following project, “Walking is Drawing.”  His trek resulted in several collage-based paintings that integrate photographs from the actual hikes.

He described his method of making art as a personal one, in which he feels guided and inspired by “music, poetry – mainly [his] relationship and encounters with wild nature.” Most of his discussion focused on the spirit of a wild coyote that seemed to drive him artistically and instinctually.

McDonald described his artistic process as destructive to some of his pieces after completion.  After being told this, an audience member asked “why?” McDonald responded it was simply “part of the process,” implying that creating art is often a long and unexpected journey.

Schneider discussed her new book, “The Representation of the Struggling Artist in America, 1800-1865,” which analyzes American artists in the 19th century. Schneider talked in depth on her topic, but also revealed the lengthy process of writing her book.

Schneider told her audience that she began writing about the ignored and suffering American artist in grad school several years ago. She said, “It’s been part of my life for so long. It was a graduate paper topic when I was at Delaware. It became my dissertation, and then it became this book, but there was no smooth path along the way.”

Several 19th century paintings and other artworks displayed by Schneider throughout her discussion only solidified her point that American artists in this time period were left feeling disregarded by society.

Audience member Austin Gaudreau described the presentations as “insightful. It’s great to see that professors here are always growing and reaching new professional heights, but it’s really special to get to hear them talk about what goes in to creating artwork and writing books. It’s a lot more work than I had imagined.”