"In curating this exhibition, I was surprised to discover that it caused me to reflect on my past experiences and those of my classmates from years ago ... where we were then, and what has transpired since. The diverse group of artists in this exhibition have all studied at CSN and while several have earned degrees, others have simply passed through, making a brief stop on their journey. The individuals in this exhibition studied at different times from one another and while some still reside locally, several have followed their dreams to far away places.
The title for this exhibition is borrowed from a short film on sustainable farming, made by a classmate from my undergraduate days. My friend, Katharina’s modest film has enjoyed international success and garnered multiple awards since its release, quietly expanding a sphere of influence as it travels the globe. In many ways her film parallels the way in which the artists in this exhibition have continued to grow, flourish and extend their reach beyond the walls of CSN. So, while this exhibition isn't really about farming of any type it certainly is about planting seeds. Without exception, the wonderful artists in “Seed to Seed” have gone on to find their place in the world, carrying with them the seeds of knowledge, beauty and change."
- Professor Wayne Littlejohn
The Inaugural CSN Art Alumni Virtual Exhibition: Seed to Seed features artwork by 10 CSN Art & Art History Program alumni nominated by CSN Art Faculty and curated by CSN Professor of Art, Wayne Littlejohn. These alumni were selected for the quality of their work and the outstanding contributions they have made to the cultural community as artists, educators, arts administrators, graphic designers, muralists, public artists and more. The artworks represented in this exhibition reflect the diversity of the CSN Art & Art History Program which includes digital media, drawing, metal work, mixed media, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. The Inaugural CSN Art Alumni Virtual Exhibition: Seed to Seed features CSN alumni artists: Zahra Bilal, Daniel Cope, Jeanne Hua, Lani McKay, Henry Morales, Ailene Pasco, Sarah Petkus, Ross Takahashi-Brummer, Lilia Todd, and Juan de Dios Varela. Professor Wayne Littlejohn earned his MFA from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and his BFA from the University of Manitoba, Canada. Professor Littlejohn is known for his public artworks that are unabashedly bold, distinct from a distance, provide contrast to the surroundings, and integrate seamlessly with the environment.
Originally from Hawai'i, Lani McKay has always had a passion for experiencing other cultures and environments. Being of mixed race, McKay enjoys portraying women of various ethnicities, interlaced with beautiful elements of nature. Since attending CSN, McKay has taken on a range of art related work, including, but not limited to, murals, graphic design, pet portraits, sculpting painting dinosaur bones for museum exhibits and creating her own fine art. Most of McKay's large-scale work is hanging in restaurants and bars in Montana, where she lived for eight years before recently moving to Colorado. Speaking of her work, McKay says, "My artwork is an extension of my love for nature, beauty and diversity. The works displayed here represent six of eight paintings that were custom ordered for The Michi Ramen Bar in Missoula, Montana and are still on display there today." Reflecting on her studies, McKay adds, "CSN helped me gain the confidence and skill to become a professional artist. At CSN I was fortunate to take classes with both Wayne Littlejohn and Dennis Angel. As the only two teachers I have ever studied oil painting with, they were extremely influential and are still the voices I hear in my mind when I paint today."
Jeannie Hua was a criminal defense attorney for twenty years before she returned to her love of art. Taking classes at CSN provided the foundation for her to create and exhibit her artwork in group shows nationally including Nevada, California, New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Hua recently was accepted to an artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux in France and is currently an MFA candidate in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Low Residency Program. Speaking of her work, Hua says, "my artwork comprise of collages, a mix of magazine paper, gel medium and old photographs. They deal with boundaries and overlapping of values and resources. These schisms and overlays define competition between families, countries, races, ethinicities, and politics. It's a Rorschach test for the viewer. How viewers regard the children in the collages is indicative of love's discriminations." According to Hua, "The faculty at CSN all contributed to the artist I am today with their technical expertise and their kindness. Anne Hoff has been my mentor and friend since I've taken her classes. She's devoted to helping her students be better artists and also better people. I feel lucky I met her. She's a treasure at CSN."
Ailene Pasco is a Philippine born sculptor and small business owner, who works as a Professional Artists Education Coordinator, working on a public art workshop called Full Scope for Clark County Government. Since attending CSN, she earned her BA from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with concentrations in sculpture and art history. Pasco's artwork uses the practical skill of crochet to build three-dimensional sculptures. She is a passionate advocate for public art, and she creates art to help raise awareness of important issues such as conservation of nature and positivism. Speaking of her experience at CSN, Pasco says, "When I started at CSN, I was a Vet Tech student. After taking Art Appreciation, I switched to an art major, and it has changed my life. CSN helped me become who I am today because of the knowledge and preparation I received from Professor Tsouras and Professor Russell’s Portfolio Emphasis Class. Four years later and I still refer back to this class when I need help preparing for art calls."
Daniel Cope is an artist based in Henderson, Nevada. Cope studied at the College of Southern Nevada and Otis College of Art and Design where he received his BFA in Sculpture and New Genres. Cope's work deals with his obsession with automotive speed. He uses the language of automotive diagrams, color, and materials to exercise a narrative through word play and association. On a material level, Cope uses polyester and epoxy resins to create a glossy yet rigid surface as a nod to the exterior. Airbrush and pin-striping along with the use of One-Shot enamel and other automotive paints are common materials and applicators are used when dealing with automotive customization and their use alongside acrylic, oil paint, and other traditional art materials. Cope's paintings are successes and failures within his quest for speed. Speaking of his educational experience, Cope says, "CSN created the environment that made me want to expand my skill set. This has not only aided in my artistic practice but my professional life as a mold maker and metal worker." Cope cites courses at CSN taught by Adjunct Professors Erik Beehn and Chris Bauder as having "introduced new ways of thinking about art and pushed material exploration."
Lilia Todd makes artwork centered around map making. She is grounded in the Las Vegas Valley and her artwork is made with the discarded material that lines the streets. Since attending CSN, Todd earned her BFA from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. According to Todd, "My experience of sharing art classes with people that were old and young, very different people, made me get a feel for the art community in Las Vegas. CSN was the start of building an art community that could support me as I grew. I was lucky enough to take classes from Bobbie Ann Howell and Anne Hoff. Each of those women have an outstanding work ethic; they really pushed me."
Sarah Petkus is an internationally accredited new media artist, illustrator and roboticist who designs, fabricates, and exhibits wearable electronic devices and robotic entities as part of a dialogue about the future relationship between humanity and technology. Speaking of her college experience, Petkus says, "As a student at CSN, I benefited greatly from the mentorship of Keith Conley, Wayne Littlejohn, Anne Hoff, Jeff Fulmer, Dennis Angel, and Linda Angel. They were wonderful resources of experience and knowledge during my time as a student at CSN and continue to be active contacts and influences in my professional life as a creator/artist." Petkus's artwork translates the world of drawn illustrations into functioning wearable technology and electronic-mechanical entities. Her goal as an artist is to inspire others to create what they wish to see in the world and reflect on the nature of their personal relation to technology.
Juan de Dios Varela started his education in commercial art at the National University in Mexico City. After he and his family emigrated to Las Vegas, Varela continued his education at CSN and UNLV. He became design manager, painted more than 15 restaurant wall murals and illustrated 12 children's books. Varela wrote and illustrated his own children's storybook, “The Mons Story” which remains unpublished. He has participated in more than 14 art exhibits in Las Vegas and Guadalajara, Mexico and for three years, he had his own studio at the Arts District, where he taught drawing workshops and held art exhibits for local artists. Varela's award-winning artwork is a mixture of reality, fantasy and visions that have nothing to do with each other, until the drawing instruments drop their colored spots on the paper, compromising reality with imagination. He defines his work as "a silent narrative, apparently without an order". This “visual readings” allow the viewers’ fantasy to tell the story from the images they see on the canvas, using their own perspective. According to Varela, "Attending CSN helped me greatly to improve my drawing, painting and art skills. I will always appreciate Anne Hoff, Wayne Littlejohn, Curtis Fairman and Alfonso Lirani among others for their dedication to the Art program."
Zahra Bilal was born in Kenya, Africa and moved to Las Vegas where she discovered her passion for art. Her artworks embrace her love of imaginative and whimsical worlds where the characters are captured in fantastic yet surreal moments. Bilal earned her Associates of Arts Degree from CSN and recently participated in her first public art project. While at CSN, she found Professor Anne Hoff to be her most empowering and influential instructor. Bilal also fondly remembers Adjunct Professor Mark Brandvik whose laid back personality always encouraged her art to improve. Bilal continues to develop confidence as she pursues her career as an artist.
Ross Takahashi-Brummer is an interdisciplinary artist and art educator living in Nevada. His work focuses on the human cognition, ecological impacts, and Hapa identity and culture. He holds a BA in psychology from Nevada State College. Since attending CSN, Takahashi-Brummer has been selected for the Hot Metal Art Residency at Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minnesota, was awarded a solo exhibition in 2020, and is continuing to showcase his work across the west coast. Speaking of his study, he says, "CSN's art coursework allowed me as a public-school art teacher to explore different mediums while attaining extended education credits for license renewal. It also provided new philosophies and perspectives on art that I was able to bring into my classroom and artistic process." According to Takahashi-Brummer, "Every day I see the life and death of nature in the world around me as the developing world continues to dig its roots. Emergence, growth, preservation, death, and decay - are the harmonious elements of nature, which humanity attempts to control. My sculptures explore these concepts while utilizing the darker elements of nature and humanity to invoke an emotional response within the viewer. Through the paradoxical medium of metal casting, I aim to preserve nature with what is rapidly causing its demise. Insects grow, but their surroundings often become industrialized and fall into disarray."
Henry Morales is a first-generation Guatemalan American whose artwork informs his practice, which, in turn, allows him to explore themes of labor, immigration, identity, and place. Morales was born in Los Angeles and moved to Las Vegas where he received his Associates of Arts from the College of Southern Nevada in 2018. Since attending CSN, he was able take part in the ZAP10! through Clark County Public Arts which led him to paint electrical boxes on the CSN North Las Vegas Campus. Morales is currently enrolled in the BFA program at Temple University's Tyler School of Art where he was recently awarded a Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship Grant. Morales said, "At CSN I had the pleasure of meeting some very influential faculty. The teachings of Anne Hoff, Wendy Kveck and Keith Conley have stuck with me and, to this day, continue to impact the way I approach my own work. CSN helped me build a strong artistic foundation that has helped me grow in ways I could not imagine. I would not be where I am today in my art career if it wasn't for the teachings that I learned at CSN."