October 26, 2005


By Connie Kachel White

The following is excerpted from the original article.

Wichita State’s College of Fine Arts, with its schools of music, performing arts, and art and design, offers a colorful and moving history. And this year, the School of Art and Design celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Master of Fine Arts program.

WSU College of Fine Arts Dean Rodney Miller sees the broad sweep of artistic enterprise behind art and design’s venerable MFA program. “…we are among the first in the United States to have offered such a program. This anniversary is an opportunity for us to say, ‘Look at what we’ve done. Look at what we’re doing.’ ”

Ron Christ, professor of painting and drawing who has taught at Wichita State since 1976 says “we help and encourage the MFA student to develop artistically, intellectually and professionally. The ongoing accomplishments of MFA students and alumni are the clearest and most rewarding evidence that we are achieving our mission.”

Sculptor Michael Flechtner ’84 of Van Nuys, Calif., serves on the board of trustees for the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles and has permanent works installed in such far-flung locations as LA, Tokyo, Ohio and Alaska. He says that while at WSU, he “discovered my roots as an artist. That is, after learning theory, technique, history, materials and so on, I realized my art-making process stemmed from childhood, going through my grandmother’s junk drawer, finding string, pulleys, batteries, screws and wires and trying to put them together in some kind of machine or structure.” The art history he gleaned from Merriman and Stockton Garver, he says, “gave me a context for my art.” And he adds with a laugh, “That danged WuShock always comes to mind. I keep thinking what he’d look like animated in neon!”

Flechtner decided on WSU primarily because Jay Sullivan, now professor of sculpture with SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, took a personal interest in his work: “I liked that approach and figured if I had the tools to work with, I could get the work done.” 

(C) 2005 The Shocker Magazine