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Photography department changes focus for next semester

Photography department changes focus for next semester

Associate Professor of Art Marcella Hackbardt, middle, and Professor of Art Gregory Spaid, right, are likely off campus next fall.

By Phoebe Carter

Next fall’s Kenyon photography staff won’t quite be picture perfect.

With Professor of Art Gregory Spaid on sabbatical next year and Associate Professor of Art Marcella Hackbardt teaching her semester photography courses as part of the Kenyon in Rome program, Kenyon’s aspiring photographers are left wondering what their options will be next fall.

An area of study that usually offers four courses per semester and enrolls close to 60 students with many more on the waitlist, there will be pressure to replace courses traditionally taught by Hackbardt and Spaid. Courses offered for first-year photography students are always in particularly high demand.

Kenyon will be looking for a temporary photography professor beginning in mid-February, and plan to determine next year’s course offerings and faculty by the end of this semester. Faced with finding a replacement, the Studio Art Department may seek someone with a similar skill set as the faculty being replaced, or opt for someone with a new approach.

“Hiring a replacement … is an opportunity to not just replace what we have, but to try something different,” Hackbardt said. She hopes having an interim photography instructor will provide an exciting new perspective for returning photography students, as well as high-quality introductory courses.

Hackbardt acknowledged that finding someone to teach her and Spaid’s non-photography classes, such as Color and Design and New Botanical Art, would be more difficult.

But Department Chair and Associate Professor of Art Read Baldwin said he does not believe it will be difficult to find a high-quality professor to teach next year’s photography courses. He did acknowledge, however, that it will be “a bit of a lean semester for aspiring photographers,” with only two courses offered instead of the usual four. The Department hopes to see photography course offerings back up to full volume by the spring semester of 2015.

Despite the slight readjustments for the Department next year, Spaid envisions the photography program growing in the future in terms of content and course offerings. He cited his new course on multimedia digital storytelling, a medium that combines photo, video, voice-over narration and music, as an example of this growth.

Spaid will be spending his sabbatical year in Colorado, pursuing a photography project in the high plains and Rocky Mountains. Spaid’s self-admitted special connection to the high plains of Colorado will provide a contrast to his last sabbatical in Manhattan.

In the fall, Hackbardt will teach Narrative Photography in Italy and Contemporary Artistic Practice: Working in Rome as part of the Kenyon in Rome program. The annual program will focus on photography and fine arts next year.

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