September 8, 2017

The Kishwaukee College Art Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of watercolors by artist Shei-Chau Wang, titled Reconstructing Landscapes. The show will run from September 11 - 30. There will be an Artist’s Reception on Wednesday, September 27, that will include a demonstration of Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting by Shei-Chau Wang from 1-2:00p.m. followed by a performance by the Northern Illinois University Chinese Music Ensemble at 3:00p.m. in the Art Gallery. Hours for the Kishwaukee College Art Gallery for Fall 2017 are Mondays and Wednesday from 12:30-3:30p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00a.m.-3:00p.m. The Gallery and Artist’s Reception are both free and open to the public.

Shei-Chau Wang is an Associate Professor in the School of Art and Design at Northern Illinois University. He is an Editorial Board Member for the International Journal of Education through Art. He has served as a Visiting Associate Professor with the Graduate Institute of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan in Spring 2014 and as a Visiting Scholar in the College of Fine Arts, Fujien Normal University, Fuzhou, Chin, in summer 2010.  He holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum Leadership from NIU and an M.F.A. in Printmaking from NIU, an M.A. in Studio Art from Adelphi University in New York, and a B.F.A. in Studio Art from Chinese Culture University in Taipei, Taiwan. His works have been exhibited and are housed in public collections throughout the U.S. and Asia.

In Reconstructing Landscapes, Shei-Chau Wang combines Chinese art traditions with the Western medium of watercolor. “My watercolor landscape series illustrates a visual journey of my air travels. I always enjoy a window seat when travelling by airplane because I can see the “landscape” from the air. Looking out from the window, I am especially fond of the abstract shapes and the distorted forms I see from up high,” he explained. “Traditionally, Chinese artists seldom make art directly from their observation; rather, it is a recall process that requires an extensive memory of experience. The most important part of the painting always lies in the abstract forms or shapes that implicitly suggests what they thought about it. In this process, various types of brush strokes are used to symbolize both the artists’ actual visual memory and their existence or “being” in the art work. Influenced by this tradition, I attempted to create a landscape that I see as part of my journey. In my artwork, I did not particularly care about the content of the actual landscape, but instead, I focused more on the limited open space behind and beyond where it can possibly be defined as sky, cloud, water, and mostly air.”

Shei-Chau Wang’s Reconstruction Landscapes is presented in the Gallery installation in chronological order, documenting the development of his abstract landscape paintings. Selected sketches, small-scale watercolor studies, and photos of his ink paintings are also displayed to help Gallery visitors understand how he applies his knowledge of Chinese art and culture to his own work in a Western medium.

For more information on Reconstructing Landscapes, contact Jaime Long, Dean of Arts/Communications/Social Sciences at Kishwaukee College, at or at 815-825-9532.

May 17, 2017

Sage Gutierrez, DeKalb, credits her grandfather, Cesario Zartuche, and father, Thomas Gutierrez, with her love of working on cars. “They brought me into the garage one day to work on my father’s 1969 Monte Carlo. As soon as my eyes saw such a unique car I knew I what I wanted to do,” she said. “Working on vehicles feels as if I am working in an art studio.” Sage would know all about art studios. In addition to being in the Collision Repair Technology (CRT) program at Kishwaukee College, she takes art classes and has had her works included in Student Art Exhibitions on campus.

When Sage talks about repairing vehicles, she is energized by the creative aspects. “I don’t see cars as merely a means for transportation; I see them as a personal canvas, where you are allowed to express anything you want in any way you want,” she explained. “I love the artistic freedom CRT provides. I appreciate the freedom of starting to work on a plain old boring car, and bringing an idea for the car to fruition, making it a piece of art.”

The DeKalb High School graduate asked body work professionals in the area if there was a good place to get the training she would need to pursue her goal of working in Collision Repair. Their response was Kishwaukee College. She stated, “They all said Kish had a great program and great teachers. They were right! Greg Brink is an outstanding teacher! He has allowed me to become more comfortable and confident with power equipment and with fellow students! As one of the few women in the field, he ensures that I am treated equally and fairly in all cases.”

After enrolling in CRT, Sage sought out her other passion in the art classes and studios on campus. Her imaginative and creative side gives her a different kind of expression in working with clay in her ceramics classes.  She said, “I get all my creativity from my lovely mother, Dollee Magarotto! I started working with clay when I was seven years old, under the supervision of my Mom, of course, in case I forgot to turn the heat off!”

One of her ceramics/pottery creations, titled “Until You Try” that reflects a bit of Alice in Wonderland, was included in the Student Juried Art Show in December and won an award in the 2017 edition of The Kamelian, the College’s award-winning literary/arts magazine. “I created the piece through a hand-formed, coil-pot method. My idea for the mushrooms and grassland area was to show the audience how big and beautiful our world is, and how opportunities are endless. The caterpillar symbolizes one being frozen in memories or present recurring actions. The big picture is you’ll never know until you try, because only you know what makes you happy. You must un-freeze your own mind.”

Sage sees her two passions – Collision Repair and art – as parallel expressions. “Collision Repair and art are very similar: they both require a ton of patience, an eagle’s eye for proper measuring, and detail,” she said.

Sage will graduate from Kishwaukee College with an Associates in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Collision Repair in May 2018. Her plans after graduation are to work for a local shop and eventually own her own business. In the interim, she will pursue creativity in all ways. “I will also be taking more art classes while I am at Kish because I enjoy it. It makes me extremely happy,” she said.

April 12, 2017

Students in Ami Irmen’s English 291 Creative Writing: Poetry class at Kishwaukee College were prepared to explore writing poetry in a variety of formats, but what they were not expecting was a collaboration with students in Miles Halpern’s Art classes to create a visual representation of their words. That is exactly what happened this spring at Kish College and the result was a mini-exhibition and an open mic poetry reading event in the Kishwaukee College Art Gallery on April 6.

The idea behind the collaboration across creative disciplines originated with Ami. “It was a crazy idea I thought up, and I threw it out to Miles - and he said sure.” She said. “I was hoping to bridge the gap between visual and written art. Plus, it just sounded like fun!”  Miles Halpern agreed, “It sounded like fun. This is a great opportunity for poetry and art students to get their work out there, participate, collaborate, and build their résumés up in the process.”

Ami’s original idea was to have the poets and art students work together, but differing section times made that difficult. “The original hope had been to have them collaborate from day one - come up with a theme/idea together and go from there,” she explained. “But the class times didn't line up, so we had the poets write the poems and then I gave them all to Miles who handed them out to his students.”

Miles turned the collaborative process into a learning experience that was far reaching. “I spoke to them about the relationship between how a poet communicates ideas through allusion, metaphor, simile, personification, description, and how an artist might communicate ideas though symbolism, allegorical reference, personification, and description as well,” he said. “I also showed them examples of artists and poets who have responded to each other's works over the years, such as William Carlos Williams poem "The Great Figure" and Charles Demuth's painting "I Saw the Figure Five in Gold," and how Demuth went about interpreting the poet's work in an interesting manner.”

Spencer Siebeck, Sycamore is a poetry student whose poem, “Planetary Paint Chip,” was interpreted by art student Devon Buza, Oregon. “I took poetry because I wanted to challenge myself,” Spencer said. “I hate having to do rhyme so my poetry has always been free form, but in this class I learned to discipline my creativity. I wrote a sonnet and was forced to adhere to a form. I wasn’t used to it but I really liked it. It wasn’t restrictive, it just forced me to challenge myself.”

Devon looked over the poems that Miles had distributed to the class and immediately chose Spencer’s work. “It appealed to me because I had done some artwork with galaxies and that drew me in,” she said. “My original idea was a prism, but then that looked like Dark Side of the Moon (by Pink Floyd) so I just looked for colors and played around with it. It took me several tries to get the composition how I liked.”

When Spencer walked into the Gallery on April 6, she knew immediately which artwork was the one married to her poem. “The color just explodes and I just knew it had to be the piece that went with my poem,” she said. Devon added that she had simply felt a connection with the poet when she read the poem. The two students met for the first time at the Open Mic Reading at the installation of their collaborative work.

Ami would like to make the exercise in collaboration one that is repeated. “When I proposed the idea in class, I wasn't sure how well it would go over - if they would go for it or not,” she recalled. “But they were all super excited about it. This isn't a normal venue for showing written work, so I think they are enjoying the unique experience.”

Miles agreed, “I think one of the challenges and pleasures as an artist is to step out of your comfort zone, to get into someone else's mind and point of view, and to respond to it, to try something different. I think if we were to try this again, it could be interesting to do things in reverse, where the art student makes an artwork, and then the poet must respond to it.”

For more information on Kishwaukee College, visit Registration for summer and fall is currently in progress. For enrollment and registration information, contact Enrollment Services at 815-825-9375 or at

Pictured are student poet Spencer Siebeck, Sycamore, who wrote a poem titled “Planetary Paint Chip,” and student artist Devon Buza, Oregon, who created a painting in response to the poem. Between them are their framed poem and painting.






Categories: English, Art
March 31, 2017

When McKenzie Cullen was a student at Oregon High School, she had no idea what she wanted to do, though she had an interest in make-up, specifically special effects make-up in movies. “I didn’t know how to get into it, so I went to cosmetology school. I figured that would be a good step towards a wider range of makeup abilities,” she said. But she had always been interested in art and the great outdoors, too. Then she found her way to Kishwaukee College and through a series of classes, she discovered her passion: theatrical costuming or “cosplay.” This spring she is submitting her replication of the costume for the character Kili in the film The Hobbit for inclusion in the Student Juried Art Show.

“I kept my costuming on the down low. It's a hobby, and I didn't really feel anyone would care or that it was much to talk about,” she explained. “In anthropology, my instructor Sarah Koepke, allowed me to use cosplay as a social norms experiment. So just being able to write a report on my hobby and my experiences with it was greatly encouraging. Then I took metalworking and jewelry making and (instructor) Dan Connelly and he was supportive, too. I started taking art classes with Miles Halpern and he has encouraged my ability and has really loved the work I've produced for it.”  Suddenly, what seemed like a dream to McKenzie, was something that could become a reality.

McKenzie researches costuming in films that catch her eye. She said, “Any movie I watch that has interesting makeup or costuming, I always look for behind the scenes footage of how it was done. For me, with costuming, I love figuring out scale and detail.” For her replication of the Kili costume, McKenzie had to figure out how the cosplay professionals on the film created a costume that made the actor, six-foot tall Aidan Turner, look like the much smaller and stouter dwarf clan member he portrayed. McKenzie then adapted the same principles to create a costume that would work the same visual magic on her own 5’ 4” frame.

Using techniques she learned in her art classes, McKenzie distressed the leather, crafted metal studs and grommets, and improvised with artificial fur and other materials. The result is a stunning, life-sized work of art. She is thrilled to find herself able to turn her secret hobby into a possible career. “Until this semester my dreams of being in movie production seemed very far away,” she stated. “But with the help of my instructors, I feel it's very achievable at this point!”

Recognizing that she is pursuing a career goal that admits very few, McKenzie is also pursuing her other passion: outdoor education. After graduating from Kish, she plans to transfer to Western Illinois University to major in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration. She has worked at White Pines Ranch in Oregon for the past six years. “Outdoor ed is a career that I can really get behind. I truly believe that what we do helps our future generations in being more open-minded, earth conscious, confident, and able individuals,” she explained.  She is exploring a double major in Theatre and minor in Art to prepare herself for any and all possibilities.

She noted that choosing Kish was an excellent decision for her as an undecided major. “Whether you do or do not know what you are doing, get to a community college,” she said. “Take a random course in auto repair, alongside a landscape design class. Take an anthropology class alongside an art history class or a religions class. Go learn about rocks in geology and then look to the stars in astronomy. Opening up our minds to possibilities is what encourages passion. And passionate, inspired individuals, are going to have lives far wealthier than those with just material wealth. And maybe, if we're lucky, we can get the chance to have both!”  

As McKenzie looks forward, what had seemed like a fun hobby has become a fulfilling path, one that will take her to Macomb and WIU next year and after that, who knows? The sky is the limit.  Her advice to students is simple, “Chase that crazy dream. Figuring out what you need to get there and then start running. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, do your very best and success will find you in one form or another. That's what I have found in my costuming!”

For more information about Kishwaukee College, visit

Categories: Art, Students